$500 million hotel, convention development announced for Aurora

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AURORA, Colo. -- After five years of whittling down the hotel project and battling Denver hoteliers over funding, Aurora is getting into the convention business in a big way after funding was secured for the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center.

Most large “A-list” conventions want 200,000 square feet of space under one roof and 1,500 rooms in the same hotel. This project will provide for that on the eastern Plains, just south of Denver International Airport.

“So, if American Express has 1,400 people and they need 200,000 square feet of meeting space under one roof, there is really no facility in the state of Colorado to take care of them,” RIDA Development’s Ira Mitzner said. “This funding from an eight-bank consortium, led by Wells Fargo, is a significant step in the process as we move toward vertical construction.”

The project could run as high as $800 million. Site work began in April and the construction could see more than 10,000 jobs created, with 2,500 permanent jobs when the complex is completed.

“This project will be a perfect addition to the city and help redefine what our future will be," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. "Along with the Fitzsimons hospital complex, light rail, which is creating a downtown around the Aurora Town Center, development along the E-470 corridor and the new Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora is now changing its stripes, in a very positive manner.”

The Gaylord folks were bought out in 2012 by Marriott, and when lawsuits challenged funding from the state, the project dropped plans to use the National Western as its theme. The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center will use a Colorado ski lodge as its motif.

The hotel could come online in about 38 months. And while the Denver hotels have filed a writ with the Colorado Supreme Court, Hogan said that group has lost challenges to funding at the district and appeals court levels.

“I don’t expect the court to hear yet another appeal," he said.

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