Downtown's newest hotel, an 80-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites, is expected to open in the next few days - nearly a year later than expected and at least $1 million over budget.
The converted office building just west of Interstate 25 previously housed offices of the El Paso County Department of Human Services, but it needed major work. The Jarosz Family Partnership bought the run-down 40-year-old building at 105 N. Spruce St. from the county in October 2012 for $2.4 million, and planned to spend $4 million gutting and converting it into a mid-priced hotel that was originally scheduled to open in mid-2013.
But the cost of replacing everything but the concrete shell and installing power, plumbing, heating and air conditioning rose to more than $5.5 million, and construction went on nearly 11 months longer than projected, continuing into this month.
"All of the windows are custom-made because they aren't a standard size," said Richard Wall, sales director for the new hotel, describing one of the many reasons the cost of the project, including the purchase price, escalated to $8 million. "Obviously it (the project) took longer than expected, but we wanted to ensure we did it right. We replaced all of the wire and pipe in the entire building and kept only the concrete shell."
Even the negotiations to buy the 64,640-square-foot building were drawn out. The partnership first approached the county three years ago about buying the four-story structure, but talks broke down and the deal wasn't completed until nearly 1? years later. By the time the project was completed, the cost per room was about 20 percent higher than typical mid-tier hotels, but the partnership wants the downtown property to be the "flagship" Holiday Inn Express in Colorado Springs.
"We wanted to be different and unique since we are the fourth Holiday Inn Express in Colorado Springs," said Jerome Hopkins, general manager of the new hotel. "Compared to other similar properties, we believe we have gone a long way to achieve that with the room size and features. Our suites look like apartments."
The top two floors include 20 suites that are 650 square feet - nearly twice the size of the other rooms in the hotel - and include a wet bar and sofa. All 80 rooms include free Internet access, refrigerators and microwave ovens, and the hotel has an indoor pool, spa, 24-hour fitness center, 24-hour business center and a dining room where free breakfasts are served.
A hotel spokesman said last week that it would open Friday, but some people involved with the project said Wednesday that opening could be delayed until next week because of inspections. The Holiday Inn Express will fill a gap for mid-priced rooms downtown, with nightly rates at $129. Rooms at the nearby Clarion Hotel and Quality Suites - also owned by the partnership - are $79 to $89. The downtown area also is served by Wyndham Grand Hotel, which opened in 2012 in the former Mining Exchange Building, and the Antlers Hilton hotel.
Wall said the Holiday Inn Express is part of ongoing efforts to redevelop the western fringe of downtown, which already has been spruced up by the $14 million renovation and expansion of the former Fish Market restaurant into The Pinery at the Hill meeting and event venue four blocks west on Bijou Street.
"A lot of The Pinery's customers use our hotel and we refer customers to them since we have a small amount of meeting space," Wall said. "We have already exceeded our pre-opening booking goals with 30 groups and another 30 national corporate accounts."
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234