Westminster Oks Tax Subsidy for “Bolsa Row” Four-Star Hotel & Housing

Voice of OC

July 9, 2018

A local developer will receive a 25-year tax subsidy from the city of Westminster to build a four-star hotel, banquet hall and mixed-use residential project on a vacant lot on the corner of Bolsa Avenue and Brookhurst Street, the city’s first full-service hotel project.

The Bolsa Row project, by developers Bac Pham and Joann Pham, is designed based on French colonial architecture in Saigon, and would include a festival street for outdoor events, 37,550 square feet in retail space, 15,869 square feet of event space, a 144-room four-star hotel and 201 multi-family residential units.

The project includes a tax subsidy in which the city will return 65 percent of hotel bed taxes for 25 years – estimated to be worth $11.6 million — to the developer. The city also has pledged to spend $4.5 million of its own money on public improvements around the site.

City staff estimated the project will generate a net $21.5 million in hotel bed tax and sales tax revenue, generate 733 temporary construction jobs and 237 permanent jobs.

At a June 27 meeting, councilmembers voted 4-0 – councilwoman Margie Rice was absent – to approve the development and the accompanying subsidy.

“The alternative is dirt – an empty dirt lot,” said Councilman Sergio Contreras. “It’s a dirt lot where people place campaign signs and billboards.”

The subsidy is part of an overall economic incentive policy passed by the City Council last year, which includes plans for business improvement loans and rebates for car buyers. Last year, the City Council approved a taxpayer-funded rebate program that would give $500 in taxpayer funds to Westminster residents that buy a new car from a dealership within city limits.

Officials at the cash-strapped city – which passed a one-cent sales tax increase in 2016 to avoid a bankruptcy – say the new incentives will spur economic activity and generate new revenue for the city.

The Bolsa Row project is located on a 6.2-acre corner lot that has been vacant for several years aside from a steady rotation of campaign signs and advertisements. City leaders have tried for several years to transform Bolsa Avenue – the main thoroughfare running through Little Saigon – from a common shopping destination for the Vietnamese American diaspora to more of a “destination” for outside visitors and tourists.

The four-star rated hotel would have live entertainment, a 24-hour restaurant, and bar and lounge that would serve alcohol from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. The complex is permitted to host outdoor live entertainment events up to six times a year, and includes two electronic billboards facing the street which would display ads and other messages from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.

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