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May. 15, 2013

Gaylord Aurora 1,500-Room Hotel Project Finds Developer

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor

The Gaylord Aurora convention hotel project, which was abandoned by the company that proposed it, has a new lease on life. Aurora officials told the Colorado Economic Development Commission that New York-based Area Property Partners will arrange financing for the $824 million project, while Houston-based Rida Development Corp. will develop the property.

The Denver Post reports that the key to getting the stalled project back on its feet was the fact that Marriott International will manage the 1,500-room hotel parallel with four existing Gaylord convention hotels. Rida Development Corp. and Area Property Partners are also currently developing a $350 million, 1,000-room hotel in Houston that will operate as a Marriott Marquis. Additionally, the two companies have partnered up on the 1,400-room Hilton Orlando—which they financed and built—and renovated the 1,200-room Hyatt Regency in New Orleans.

Area Property Partners intends to have the financing arranged by late summer, and Rida Development Corp. is in talks with contractors for the construction of what would be one of the largest convention hotels in the country, outside of Las Vegas. Construction is planned to start in late 2014 or early 2015, and the convention hotel is expected to open in 2017.

Located on land within the 1,800-acre High Point development, the project is expected to create around 1,200 construction jobs, with the hotel generating around 2,500 permanent positions.

One key element of the project is to keep the $81.4 million in credits against future state sales taxes, which the Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded Aurora under the Regional Tourism Act last May. Those incentives will be in addition to around $170 million in credits against future sales tax obligations, which Wendy Mitchell, president and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council, said the city is providing.

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