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Vice mayor calling on Phoenix to sell downtown Sheraton

PHOENIX — Phoenix Vice Mayor Jim Waring wants the city to put up a “for sale” sign.

He claims that a downtown business that’s owned by the city is draining Phoenix’s bank account.

The city opened the Sheraton Hotel in the middle of the recession in 2008. It was expected to be the cornerstone of downtown redevelopment, and supporters of the hotel claim that it has led to a resurgence that is about to bring Pro Bowl and Super Bowl activities into the downtown area.

But Waring said the Sheraton is costing Phoenix too much money.

“We have had commensurate losses with the Sheraton,” said Waring. “We’re losing tens of millions of dollars. It is an edifice that, if we sold it now, we would lose our shirts. We basically have a mortgage that is way under water. It was built at the wrong time.”

Waring talked about how much money the city has lost on the hotel.

“I believe it’s about $30 million,” Waring said. “During the next five years, you might be able to expect losses of another $30 million, but that assumes that we’ll have the economy that we’re seeing now or better.”

Even though the economy appears to be getting better, he still wants Phoenix to sell the hotel.

“Because the economy is turning around, and we’re still accumulating losses. We’re still not even close to breaking even,” said Waring.

One problem is that the city signed a contract where it would face significant financial penalties if it sells the 1,000-room hotel before 2016. Waring said as soon as that contract is up, the city should sell the Sheraton, and not wait one minute longer.

He said, as of right now, he does not know if there are any potential buyers.

Waring called the Sheraton a “fiasco.” He blames the previous Phoenix city council with leaving the current leaders with “a mess.”