by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Olde Town’s first modern hotel is getting closer. Design plans were delivered to the City of Arvada for approval last week. The new Hilton Garden Inn will be located on Olde Wadsworth across from Lowe’s at the old Brooklyns site that now houses the Mile High Vineyard church just south of Olde Town.
Checking with the designers earlier this week confirmed that the project is to include:
a $17 million project cost,
employment for 60 to 80 people, depending upon the season,
a restaurant and lounge,
indoor pool and fitness center,
business center, and
up to 3000 square feet of available event and meeting space.
The next step in the approval process will be a hearing before the City of Arvada Planning Commission which must approve a building height exception for the five-story hotel. That’s scheduled for August 6th. The building is expected to top out at 64 feet above ground level. Community Development said that the hotel is far enough from the center of Olde Town that its design does not have to go before the Design Review Committee for an architectural review.
The developers recently said they are hoping to close on the property as soon as this October, and the project could break ground the same month. Construction is expected to take 14 months, which means the hotel could open as soon as January of 2017.
But other construction projects in the metro area are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, and additional construction or approval delays are still possible. The builders of the Solana Olde Town Station apartments recently asked for a nine-month extension of the time needed to complete construction of about 350 new apartments near Olde Town. They are to be built just east of the mini-storage facility on the Wadsworth Bypass, and construction is expected to start on that project at the end of the year as well.
Why is the design pictured being used? The answer: because it’s what the public said they preferred. In a public meeting held by the developers in March, attendees were asked about four design choices that were consistent with what Hilton Garden Inn would accept for their branded hotels. The choice shown here was favored more than the other designs offered.
Although it does not match very well with the structures immediately adjacent to it, those who favored this design said they liked it because it is a better match for the older buildings in the heart of Olde Town. The developer also likes it. Since it does not use expensive brickwork in it’s design, it can be built at a lower cost than the other options. What looks like brick in the renditions is actually stucco that will have a brick-like appearance.
This hotel nearly didn’t happen. AURA, and the City, have been working for at least a decade to bring a hotel to Olde Town. According to the urban renewal authority’s statements, they have entered into negotiations to build a hotel on the site on four previous occasions – only to have each fall through because the developers could not get the financing needed to build a hotel at this location. This is the first time the numbers seem to be working and acceptable to the banks that actually finance the project.
To help make the numbers work, AURA is subsidizing the developer. According to its balance sheet, AURA is selling the land (valued between $783 thousand and $1.31 million) to the developer for only $500,000. In addition, the urban renewal authority is giving back to the developer up to $800,000 in new occupancy taxes that the hotel is expected to earn for AURA over the next ten years.
Those taxes are paid by the hotel’s guest and are added to their bill as a separate 2% item, along with other taxes and fees added by the hotel. There’s nothing out-of-pocket for Arvada residents in these numbers. If you don’t stay at the hotel or use its facilities, you don’t pay any taxes or fees. The cost of a stay at the hotel will be competitive with the overall Denver-area market.
Frequent reports in social media that the land being sold is actually worth $3.3 million, or even $3.6 million, are not true. Those figures are, instead, what AURA has invested in trying to develop this property over many years. And the building itself is a liability, not an asset, since the developer has to bear the cost of demolishing it before a hotel can be built.
The City of Arvada has “skin in the game” as well. As a church, this property hasn’t generated any sales taxes for years. But once it opens as a hotel, the City will be redirecting about $172 thousand a year in new sales taxes the hotel earns back to AURA. That will last until AURA’s authority has run out in 2033. This money will be used to further urban renewal by AURA.
However, the Arvada Police Department does receive all of its new sales taxes. The APD is expected to receive $23,000 a year for law-enforcement purposes. The City is also rewriting a loan AURA has on the property to receive a lower interest rate.
The intangible benefits the new hotel and its guests will bring to the City are substantial. Visitors to Arvada will have a pretty nice place to stay within walking distance of the many things that an increasingly popular Olde Town has to offer. That’s good for business, and it’s good for friends or relatives coming to visit residents for things like weddings or family reunions.
But even with a subsidy, the hotel seems to be a good financial investment as well. From a property that for years has produced no revenue at all, the new hotel is expected to bring $3 million in new retail sales to the City each year. That alone will bring in about $100,000 a year in new City sales taxes to be spent throughout the City on things like parks and road maintenance. In addition to that, over the next 17 years, the hotel project is expected to net nearly $3 million each to AURA and to the City in direct benefits. And the money that AURA gets has to be reinvested in further urban renewal projects in the area.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
AURA has been very open in its financials about the project and the risks involved with it. There is a pretty complete rundown available of who-gets-what financially in the proposal. You can find that material in the AURA Board of Commissioner’s meeting packet posted when the proposal came up for approval at their January 7, 2015 meeting. That’s on their website at
or you can download just the approval document itself by clicking on this link.
Your neighborhood association, the CLRC, has posted several articles on the proposed hotel in the recent past. Here is one link:
It has the alternative designs proposed and views of the surrounding buildings.
For a very different view of the work urban renewal and the City have done to bring this project to Olde Town, you can also look at an article put out by a group in opposition to the new hotel at this link. Although there is no byline, it’s thought to have been written by mayoral candidate Dave Chandler.
And, as always, the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from the Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
You can read all of our articles on our main website at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
July 11, 2015