AG files amended complaint against ABOR over ASU real estate deals

Apr 5, 2019, 4:25 AM
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Thursday that his office filed an amended complaint against the Arizona Board of Regents in a lawsuit over Arizona State University’s real estate deals.

The amended complaint adds a claim that ASU’s deal with Omni Hotel for a project located at University Drive and Mill Avenue is unconstitutional.

“In our complaint we claim that the Board of Regents is violating the (Arizona Constitution’s) gift clause by essentially giving $38 million upfront in discounted property values to (an) out-of-state hotel corporation in order to build a hotel and conference center in Tempe,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

The attorney general’s office said ASU gave Omni Hotel those millions in discounted property valuation and funding for a conference center and parking garage.

ASU has said the hotel paid a “fair market value” for the land, but records show that ABOR waived its policy of requiring a public auction and determined a sale price of $85 per square foot, when a similarly located property sold for $212 per square foot, according to a press release.

“What the university is essentially doing now is providing a mega hotel corporation new properties that really are as nearly free as possible, when the constitution requires that tuition be nearly free as possible,” Brnovich said.

“So what is happening is they are enriching out-of-state billionaires at the expense of hard-working Arizona taxpayers.”

The overall lawsuit alleges that ASU has misused its tax-exempt status to benefit private developers in a number of real estate deals.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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AG files amended complaint against ABOR over ASU real estate deals