It's one of the Pikes Peak region's more visible reminders of the area's recent economic downturn: the hulking, partially finished Renaissance Hotel that has sat dormant on Colorado Springs' far north side for nearly four years.
Now, there's movement on the hotel's possible sale and completion.
A Denver-based investor has contracted to buy the hotel, according to Fred Veitch, a vice president with Nor'wood Development Group, the Springs-based real estate company that's developing the InterQuest Marketplace retail center that includes the hotel site.
Veitch said he didn't know the investor's identity, and that the potential buyer is going through a due diligence period to evaluate the hotel. He said he didn't have any additional information.
Houston-based Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, a commercial real estate firm that's marketing the Renaissance, also says on its website that the hotel is under contract; the website describes the hotel and adjoining conference center as "half-constructed" and "can be completed in 10-12 months from construction re-start."
Holliday Fenoglio Fowler representatives didn't return phone calls.
Putting a property under contract is a sign a buyer is serious, but doesn't necessarily mean a deal will get done. Commercial investors often contract to buy a property, but walk away before a deadline to commit money if their research shows there are financial, regulatory or logistical hurdles on a project.
In the case of the Renaissance Hotel, a buyer will have to spend millions on the purchase, and millions more to complete the project. The Holliday Fenoglio Fowler website says "the hotel can be acquired at a significant discount to the original completion estimate."
The hotel is owned by a limited liability company controlled by Flintco Inc. of Tulsa, Okla., the hotel's original general contractor. Flintco CEO Tom Maxwell didn't return phone calls; last year, Maxwell said Flintco had received offers for the hotel, but not at a price the company deemed acceptable.
The Renaissance and InterQuest Marketplace sit on nearly 20 acres east of Interstate 25, and the 11-story, 300-room hotel is visible to thousands of vehicles that pass by daily on the interstate.
The Renaissance was launched by Missouri hotelier John Q. Hammons, one of the nation's foremost hotel developers. After spending $47 million of his own money on the project, Hammons failed to obtain financing to complete it; work stopped in October 2009.
The elderly Hammons was placed in a nursing home the next year. His company underwent a management shake-up, and officials who took over the business said the poor economy stalled the hotel's completion. Hammons died last month at 94.
Flintco had filed a legal claim against the property and bought it for $28.8 million in October 2011 at an El Paso County Sheriff's foreclosure auction. Flintco has since sought to sell the hotel.
In addition to its 300 rooms, the hotel's planned amenities were to include 46,495 square feet of meeting space, a 191-seat, full-service restaurant, a 100-seat atrium lounge and bar with outdoor seating, a coffee bar, spa, fitness room and heated indoor pool, according to Holliday Fenoglio Fowler's website.
Nor'wood's Veitch said the stalled hotel hasn't affected development of InterQuest Marketplace, a planned 131-acre, 900,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex. But once the hotel is finished, he said, it should give the project a boost.
InterQuest Marketplace currently includes a 14-screen movie theatre complex, a Brunswick Zone XL entertainment center, Cheddar's Casual Cafe, Colorado Mountain Brewery and a Kum & Go convenience store.
Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he's heard about the hotel's possible sale, but didn't have any information on the deal.
The far north side of Colorado Springs and northern El Paso County have been strong growth areas in the Pikes Peak region, and the hotel would serve the nearby Air Force Academy, tourists, businesses and neighborhoods, he said.
"Having a new hotel would be kind of like having a crown jewel up there," Price said.
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