August 2, 2006 - An annexation deal between the town of Oro Valley and Westward Look Resort may fall through as the deadline to sign nears.
Town officials say the deal has been put on hold because the Westward Look Resort is up for sale. And as the Aug. 26 deadline approaches, the town still is without the lone signature needed to bring the resort into the town's domain.
Scott Nelson, Oro Valley's special projects manager, said he doesn't think the resort's owners have chosen a buyer yet.
"Until they have new ownership, everything is on hold," Nelson said. "The current owner isn't in a position to sign."
Nelson said the current owners probably want to give potential buyers options and the flexibility to do what they want with the resort.
A hotel spokesperson said Boutique Hotel Co., the hotel's owner, put the property on the market this past spring. It started touring potential buyers in May.
National real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle listed the property out of its Los Angeles office. Through an e-mail to the EXPLORER, the broker managing the sale declined to comment.
The resort approached Oro Valley about annexation in July 2005. Nelson said the company entertained several ideas about expansion, one of the primary reasons for annexing into Oro Valley. Oro Valley, in turn, would receive bed taxes from the resort.
Including expenses, the town expects to generate $448,761 of sales and bed taxes revenues in the first year from the resort.
To compete with other resorts in the area, Nelson said Westward Look owners discussed adding more guest rooms and increasing the amenities.
They also considered adding condominiums to the property - a trend among upscale resorts - though doing so would require Oro Valley to rezone the area for residential property.
But Nelson stressed that until the resort signs the annexation agreement with Oro Valley, nothing can move forward.
"They were really trying to leave as many options open as possible," Nelson said. "From a time you start a plan and the time you carry it out, things change completely."
Sandra Esparza, general manager of the resort, was unavailable for comment.
If the resort or its new buyer misses the year deadline to sign the annexation petition, state law requires the town wait 45 days to draw another annexation map, Nelson said.
But an exception in the law allows for the owner of the property being annexed to waive the 45-day rule and redraw the map immediately.
Pima County's zoning still classifies the resort as a dude ranch, from the 1930s.
In order for the annexation to occur, 51 percent or more of the property owners, who own at least 51 percent of the area's assessed value, must sign the petition. In Westward Look's case, the resort's owner is the only signature necessary.