Walt Disney Co. has put a hold on plans to build a luxury hotel in the Disneyland Resort’s shopping district, citing a feud with Anaheim officials over tax subsidies that the Burbank media giant was expecting to get from operating the hotel.
The dispute centers on a $267 million tax break that the Anaheim City Council approved in 2016 for a 700-room hotel — the fourth hotel at the Disneyland Resort and the first high-end property built in 20 years.
“You have given us no other choice than to put construction of the hotel on indefinite hold as the resort reevaluates the economic viability of future hotel development in Anaheim,” according to a letter dated Wednesday from David Ontko, chief counsel for Disneyland Resorts, to Anaheim City Atty. Robert Fabela.
Asked to respond to the dispute, Disneyland Resort representatives said the resort’s position is made clear in Ontko’s letter.
“Disneyland’s decision to halt development of their fourth hotel is a devastating blow to Anaheim and a direct result of the city’s increasingly hostile actions towards our local economy,” Todd Ament, president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
But Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who has opposed the subsidy for the hotel project, said Disneyland Resort has the option to build the project without a subsidy from the city.
“It’s a matter of law, and legally the city cannot pay the subsidy because it’s a fundamentally different project,” he said. “If Disney wants to build a luxury hotel they should build it with their own money.”
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The hotel was originally proposed for the site of a parking lot on the north end of Disney’s property, at 1401 Disneyland Way.
But since the hotel project was announced and the 20-year tax break was approved, Disneyland Resort has changed the hotel location to a larger site within Downtown Disney, a shopping district adjacent to the resort’s Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks.