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Thursday, July 01, 2009

Biltmore Hotel owes $2M in back rent

According to a letter the city received, The Biltmore Hotel, a, they want to have until July  2012 to pay more than $2.3 million the Coral Gables hotel owes in back rent the City.

Their proposal asks if the Biltmore could begin July 1, 2012 paying $100,000 quarterly. It would take at least 5 years for the Coral Gables hotel to pay back the money it owes since it stopped paying rent in April 2009.

On Monday, Elizabeth Hernandez, Coral Gables City Attorney, she had not finished reviewing the proposal and, ``We are always willing to resolve differences of opinion as long as it doesn't have a negative effect on the city or the city's legal position.”

The city of s Coral Gables says the Miami commercial property owes about $2.3 million in back rent. The city and the Biltmore have been at odds for more than a year over how much the Biltmore owes the city. In April 2009, the Biltmore stopped paying its rent which is 3.5 percent of the hotel's gross revenues.

The Coral Gables hotel argues that some of the money they have paid since the beginning of the lease in 1992 should be credited for restoration and maintenance of the historic 1926 landmark. Seaway Corporation manages the hotel and signed a 99 year lease with the city owns the property.

The Biltmore president, Prescott, quotes a letter from deputy director of operations for the U.S. Department of Interior, Daniel Wenk, which has oversight of the property because it's a national landmark. ``Expenses relating to the property's repair, rehabilitation, restoration and recurring maintenance requirements should be paid before any excess income is realized,'' Wenk wrote to various city officials.

City attorney, Hernandez responded by saying, ``used the excess rental receipts from the Biltmore for public historic preservation, park or recreational purposes.''

Hernandez has said that the city has a binding contract with the Coral Gables hotel and it’s the city’s position that they owe them the rent. Hernandez said that are waiting for PricewaterhouseCoopers to complete an audit before a final decision is made on a new contract. The audit should be done by the end of the year, Prescott wrote in his letter.


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