Marriott Moves Forward with CO Convention Center

Development on the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center is set to begin after the closing of a $500 million construction contract.

GaylordRockiesResort1Development of the long-awaited $824 million Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, Colo., will begin following the closing of a $500 million construction from Wells Fargo Bank as lead agent on an eight-bank consortium.

Marriott International, Inc. and its owner and development partners RIDA Development Corp. and Ares Management L.P. also announced that they had entered into a $530 million construction contract with Mortenson Construction and WELBRO Building Corp.

Joining Wells Fargo on the bank consortium are co-lead agents Bank of America and Bank of Nova Scotia as well as Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Credit Agricole, CIT Financial, MidFirst Bank and US Bank.

Marriott will manage the 2 million-square-foot, 1,500-room hotel and convention center under a long-term contract. The development, which will also have 337,000 square feet of meeting space and a water park for hotel guests, is expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs and about 2,500 permanent direct and indirect employees at the hotel. The project, which has been in the planning stages for about four years, is estimated to generate more than $7 billion in economic activity for the state of Colorado. It is expected to bring over two million visitors to the city of Aurora and state during the first several years after its opening in late 2018.

Michael Kofsky will serve as director of sales and marketing and lead a team with the goal of pre-booking more than 1.25 million room night prior to the opening.

“I am extremely pleased that the financing for the project has closed and major vertical construction is underway. At a time of uncertainty in the economy, it is especially fulfilling to know that the partnership should create over 10,000 jobs for the great State of Colorado over the next three critical years,” Ira Mitzner, president of Houston-based RIDA, said in a prepared statement. “The partnership would like to recognize the city of Aurora, led by Mayor Steve Hogan, and the state of Colorado for their tireless partnership in bringing the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center to fruition.”

The project will receive nearly $300 million in tax incentives from the city of Aurora and $81.4 million from the Colorado Economic Development Commission, according to the Denver Business Journal.

The original developer Gaylord Entertainment Co. stepped away from the project in May 2012 when Marriott acquired the Gaylord Hotels brand. A year later, Aurora officials told the Colorado EDC that Ares Management, a global alternative asset manager, RIDA and Marriott would proceed with the project and Marriott would manage it.

“Adding a western group destination of this scale to Marriott’s portfolio allows our sales teams to leverage existing group business demand into the property and create new demand in the market with meetings customers who have never considered Colorado for their events,” Dave Grissen, group president, Marriott International, said in a statement about the construction loan.

Mark Lanspa, executive vice president in Wells Fargo Commercial Real Estate’s Hospitality Finance Group, noted that the development is a “significant project, not only for Aurora and the Denver area, but for the entire Rocky Mountain region.”

“The Gaylord Rockies is designed to attract out-of-state visitors to our Colorado convention center for particularly large-scale corporate and association meetings, as well as be a dynamic leisure destination,” said Luke Charlton, RIDA Chief Operating Officer.

Andrew Holm, managing director in the Ares Real Estate Group, called it a “transformative project.”

“The construction of the Gaylord Rockies continues Ares’ history of developing best-in-class properties across major markets in the United States, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with the city of Aurora on this $800 million project,” Holm said.