City officials: Gaylord hotel in Aurora is on again

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AURORA | Plans for Aurora’s Western-themed hotel and conference center are still moving forward, city officials said at an economic development meeting Feb. 14.

Marriott International Inc., which bought the division handling the Gaylord development last summer, is still committed to building out the $800 million project, Aurora City Manager Skip Noe said at a Colorado Economic Development Commission meeting.

A rendering of the proposed Gaylord hotel and conference center is shown in this image provided by Gaylord. The hotel and conference center project was recently approved for tax incentives under the Regional Tourism Act. Under the act, the project will be able to keep about $81.4 million.  (Courtesy Gaylord Entertainment)
A rendering of the proposed Gaylord hotel and conference center is shown in this image provided by Gaylord. The hotel and conference center project was recently approved for tax incentives under the Regional Tourism Act. Under the act, the project will be able to keep about $81.4 million. (Courtesy Gaylord Entertainment)

“Marriott International is extremely interested in moving this project forward, and purchased it with the intention of expanding and actively working on this project,” Noe told members of the commission.

The size and scope of the project will remain the same, Noe said.

The hotel would feature 1,500 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of exhibition and conference space, to be built in Aurora near the Denver International Airport, and it would still be a Gaylord-branded hotel.

The Gaylord Hotels brand, along with the rights to manage its four resort hotels, was sold to Marriott for $210 million in May 2012, just a few weeks after the state awarded Aurora incentives to help pay for the construction of the “Gaylord Rockies.”

Currently, Marriott is running the Gaylord Opryland in Tennessee, the Gaylord Palms in Florida, the Gaylord Texan and the Gaylord National near Washington D.C.

“(Marriott has) thinks there’s real value in expanding the brand,” Noe said.

Marriott has been in negotiations with investors and has a project developer in mind to construct the hotel and conference center, but Noe said he’d have more details about the proposal in March. Aurora’s economic development officials declined to name the possible project developer.

“There’s lots of interest,” Noe said. “Analysis of the market and of this project is very favorable.”

Dick Robinson, a member of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, said that under statute, Aurora has a total of five years from the day the project was awarded state incentives to negotiate official plans for the project.

“Based on the award, under the statute, there’s not a shorter time frame we can go with,” Robinson said.

In May 2012, the commission approved a tax incentive package for the project worth $81.4 million over 30 years. Commissioners originally asked Aurora officials to finalize negotiations for the project 120 days after incentives were awarded, but Robinson said at the meeting Feb. 14 that was “not legally binding.”

The announcement that the Western-themed hotel project is not dead comes five months after Gaylord officials said the company would continue working on the project with “minimal financial commitment.”

In a statement about the quarterly earnings report in August 2012, the company said they “will no longer view large-scale development of resort and convention center hotels as a means for growth. As a result, the company will not proceed with its previously announced development projects in the form previously anticipated.”

Wendy Mitchell, president and chief executive of the Aurora Economic Development Council, said Aurora’s Western-themed hotel would be the largest hotel project to be built west of the Mississippi River outside of Las Vegas since 2009. She said  projects of this size can take years to plan before construction begins.

“People think economic development is this overnight thing, and it’s never like that,” she said. “This is something that’s important, and as a result of that, it’s our responsibility to continue to move it forward the best way we can.”

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]

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daisy rothschild
9 years ago

no-o-oooo

kaje
kaje
7 years ago

Best thing to happent to Aurora, CO!