Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gaylord resort appears in limbo for Mesa

The company that was planning an $800 million resort and conference center in southeast Mesa appears to be getting out of the resort -development business.

Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Inc. said Thursday that it has agreed to sell the Gaylord Hotels brand, along with rights to manage its four existing hotels, to Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc. for $210 million.

Upon completion of the sale, Gaylord officials said, they will revamp the company's business model to cease being a developer of multimillion-dollar resorts and become a real-estate investment trust, or REIT.

A REIT pools investor money to buy or develop revenue-generating properties, with proceeds distributed to investors as dividends.

Gaylord officials did not say whether the restructuring, to be completed by Jan. 1 if shareholders approve, would put an end to the already-postponed Mesa resort plans for land owned by Scottsdale-based DMB Associates.

Still, a company news release issued Thursday did say the transition to a REIT would halt existing plans to develop a resort of similar size and cost in Colorado.

"The company will no longer view large-scale development as a means for growth and will not proceed with the Colorado project in the form previously anticipated," the release said. "The company will re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase."

DMB Associates spokeswoman Cassidy Campana said it's too early to tell how Gaylord's proposed restructuring might affect the Mesa plans.

"It appears that shareholders will still have to approve this proposed deal later this summer," Campana said. "It sounds like this will be a wait-and-see."

Last July, Gaylord executives reassured DMB and city officials including Mesa Mayor Scott Smith that the company still intended to build the resort despite postponing the project until economic conditions improved.

Smith and the other local officials had traveled to Gaylord's Nashville headquarters that month to address a growing concern that the resort never would be built.

by J. Craig Anderson - May. 31, 2012 06:20 PM The Republic |

Gaylord resort appears in limbo for Mesa

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