DALLAS - Denver District Court Judge Norman Haglund on April 9 dismissed a lawsuit by 11 Colorado hotels seeking to block $81 million in state tax incentives to build a competing resort in Aurora.
Haglund ruled that the hotels did not have standing to challenge the Colorado Economic Development Commission's decision to award the incentives for the Gaylord Rockies project under the state constitution.
The lawsuit claimed that the state tax incentives were not allowed under a state law known as the Regional Tourism Act enacted to promote tourism.
"The Regional Tourism Act contains no provisions providing express enforcement rights to private parties," Haglund said. "Nor can parties such as the plaintiffs here assert they have a generally protected legal interest arising from their rights as taxpayers."
Attorneys for the 11 hotels did not immediately announce whether they would appeal the decision. A second lawsuit challenging the incentives is pending in Adams County, which includes part of the eastern Denver suburb of Aurora.
The lawsuits have delayed private financing for the $824 million hotel and resort that is planned near Denver International Airport.
EDC members approved $81 million in state sales-tax-increment financing for the 1,500-room hotel in May 2012 as part of the Regional Tourism Act. In addition to the state incentives, the city of Aurora added its own tax breaks, bringing the total to about $300 million.
"The Gaylord project will create thousands of construction jobs and more than 2,500 permanent jobs once the hotel and conference center are complete," Aurora officials said in a prepared statement. "Independent economists project that Gaylord will attract over 400,000 new visitors to our area, and contribute $273 million new dollars to Colorado's economy each year. The project is structured to make sure the developers are accountable and deliver on their promises before receiving a penny in tax incentives."