Proposed $105M Palm Beach hotel caught in property tax imbroglio

Plans for a $105 million, 400-room Hilton hotel on Okeechobee Boulevard, adjacent to Palm Beach County’s convention center in downtown West Palm Beach, are in danger of falling apart because of a dispute between the city and the county, the Palm Beach Post reported. Under a 2005 agreement made between the hotel’s developer and the county, the city is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes, but the county is demanding that the city wave those taxes in order to keep the deal alive. The county wants taxpayers to contribute $27 million in subsidies and for the developer Related Cos. to pay  $70.8 million into the project. The hotel would also receive an additional $8 million in federal tax credits. Under this plan the county would own both the hotel and the property it sits on, exempting it from all property taxes.

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However, West Palm Beach officials argue that the county’s plan for tax exemption is a violation of the terms of their 2005 settlement agreement, which promised the city property tax revenue from the hotel. “There is an existing legal agreement between us and they just decided to ignore it,” said Elliot Cohen, a West Palm Beach spokesperson. “It doesn’t really get any simpler than that.” [Palm Beach Post] — Christopher Cameron