Vacancy at the Gaylord site? City still waiting on hotelier action

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AURORA | Two months have passed since city officials said Aurora’s Western-themed hotel and conference center project was still moving forward, but now city officials are keeping mum on the topic.

City Manager Skip Noe told the Colorado Economic Development Commission on February 14 that plans for the project were still moving forward and that he’d have more details about the proposal to report to them in March.

Now, in mid-April, city officials still don’t have any news.

“Skip said that he doesn’t have any new information at this point to share,” city spokeswoman Julie Patterson said April 12.

In an e-mail, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said Marriott would need to produce something for the city, “one way or the other,” by mid-May, the next time the CEDC meets.

Kathy Green, spokeswoman for the CEDC, said the city is expected to give an update to the CEDC at their meeting May 9.

Calls to Marriott International Inc. were not returned.

A High Point sign is seen near East 64th Avenue and Tower Raod in Aurora. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center development is proposing to build on the High Point property. (Heather L. Smith/Aurora Sentinel)
A High Point sign is seen near East 64th Avenue and Tower Raod in Aurora. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center development is proposing to build on the High Point property. (Heather L. Smith/Aurora Sentinel)

Noe said at the meeting in February that Marriott International Inc. was still interested in moving the hotel project, previously known as the Gaylord Rockies, forward.

Aurora still has until 2017 to negotiate official plans for the project.

“(Marriott) thinks there’s real value in expanding the brand,” he told development officials.

Marriott has been in negotiations with investors and has a project developer in mind to construct the hotel and conference center, Noe said.

The size and scope of the project will remain the same. 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.”

Wendy Mitchell, president of the Aurora Economic Development Council, said more time is needed to present plans.

“We’re not going back (to the CEDC) right now; we don’t have anything put together yet,” Mitchell said.

She said they’ll wait “as long it takes” to get something done to give updates on the project.

Mitchell has previously 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 in February. “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]