Marriott-branded hotel planned for downtown Colorado Springs

A local development group plans a $50 million, 230-room Marriott-branded hotel for downtown Colorado Springs, part of a series of hotel projects taking shape in the city’s core and outlying areas.

The project, proposed for the southwest corner of Tejon and Costilla streets, would be the first Marriott property in downtown. It would include 120 rooms under Marriott’s SpringHill Suites brand that caters to business and leisure travelers, and 110 rooms as part of Marriott’s new Element flag, which targets extended stay travelers.

“The time is right for this project,” Jim DiBiase, a director with Olive Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs, said Wednesday. He’s part of a development team that includes Kevin Engelhardt of Hotel Operation Services in Monument and Springs general contractor Vince Colarelli. Hotel Equities, a national management company based in Atlanta, would operate the property.

“Getting the Marriott brand into our central business district brings incredible credibility to redevelopment of our downtown,” DiBiase said. “We have 500,000-plus people in this city, and we don’t have a Marriott brand in our central business district. There’s no reason for that.”

A preliminary plan shows the nine-story hotel’s amenities would include 6,000 to 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail, 3,500 square feet of meeting space and a fifth-floor activity area with a pool, fitness center, bar and outdoor patio.

But the project has several hurdles to clear.

To make it work, developers say they need financial help and want the city to declare their nearly 1-acre property an urban renewal site. An urban renewal designation would make the project eligible for financial assistance under Colorado’s urban renewal law. Without that financial help, the project isn’t feasible, DiBiase said.

According to the developers’ proposal:

– Increased sales and property tax revenue generated by the hotel would fund construction of a $14.3 million, 340-space adjacent parking garage behind the hotel to the west and another $720,000 in improvements in the area – costs that would be on top of the hotel’s privately funded $50 million price tag. Marriott wants parking for its guests, and a hotel of this size probably would require at least 160 spaces, DiBiase said. – The Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority would issue $20 million in bonds to fund the upgrades; $15 million would fund the parking garage and the rest would cover bond underwriting, legal costs and reserves.

– The bonds would be paid off by additional city and El Paso County sales and property taxes generated by the project, a public improvement fee levied on hotel users and parking garage revenues. Other funding sources could include the city’s Parking Enterprise Fund, the Downtown Development Authority and a special taxing district.

– Developers estimate the project would create 200 full- and part-time jobs, and 200 construction jobs.On Wednesday, the Urban Renewal Authority took the first step toward the project’s approval; it voted to hire DGC Consulting of suburban Denver to determine whether blighted conditions exist on South Tejon, which would qualify the property as an urban renewal site.

DGC also will assemble a more detailed urban renewal plan and an economic impact report. The authority will decide whether to accept DGC’s findings, but the Colorado Springs City Council will make the final call on whether the hotel site qualifies for an urban renewal designation.

DiBiase said his group’s project could break ground in May or June and be completed 16 months later.

DiBiase’s group continues to assemble land for the project; this month, it paid nearly $1.5 million for two parcels in the 400 block of South Tejon, the vacant Al De Mark auto repair shop and a vacant lot, El Paso County land records show. The group also has two small office buildings under contract, DiBiase said.

In downtown, a 10-story, 165-room Hilton Garden Inn is under construction at Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue. Meanwhile, southwest side redevelopment plans presented to the City Council this week showed a 19-story hotel across from the Olympic Museum. Other hotels around the city that are in various stages of planning and construction include a 100-room Best Western Plus and Executive Residency at Interstate 25 and Fillmore Street; a 122-room Comfort Suites and Mainstay Hotel at Powers and Stetson Hills boulevards; an 87-room Holiday Inn Express southwest of InterQuest and Voyager parkways; and an 80-room Fairfield Inn & Suites southeast of Tutt Boulevard and Barnes Road.

In general, developers have cited a stronger economy and increased business travel and tourism as factors that are driving the boom in hotels.

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