MARRIOTT HOTEL RENDERING
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A groundbreaking took place Monday for a 259-room, dual-branded Marriott hotel that will be built in the 400 block of South Tejon Street on downtown Colorado Springs’ south side. The hotel is targeted for a 2021 opening. COURTESY CS DUAL HOTEL

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Downtown Colorado Springs’ south side, already buzzing with new restaurants, bars, apartments and a planned multi-purpose outdoor stadium, is getting another big boost.

A ceremonial groundbreaking — pushed inside because of chancy weather — took place Monday for an eight-story, 259-room Marriott hotel to be built in the 400 block of South Tejon Street, southwest of Tejon and Costilla streets. The $75 million hotel, to open in spring 2021, will carry Marriott’s SpringHill Suites and Element brands.

The hotel’s several hundred guests a day will pump money into area stores and restaurants, project backers say. The hotel also will generate hundreds of new jobs and cater to growing numbers of tourists, some attracted by next year’s opening of the downtown U.S. Olympic Museum a few blocks away.

“It’s very significant,” Mayor John Suthers, one of several speakers at Monday’s event, said of Marriott’s downtown presence. “The number of tourists that we’ll be bringing to this town, when you add the Olympic Museum to the portfolio of places to go and things to do, I think tourism’s going to take a huge leap in the next couple of years.”

Jim DiBiase, a director with Olive Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs and part of the hotel’s development group, called the project a “cornerstone” to redevelopment in south and southwest downtown. His partners are Kevin Engelhardt of Hotel Operation Services in Monument and Springs general contractor Vince Colarelli. Hotel Equities, an Atlanta-based management company, also is a partner and will operate the property.

“On any given day, there will be 400 to 500 people staying at this hotel,” DiBiase said. “They’ll be eating out at our neighborhood restaurants, shopping in our neighborhood shops.”

The hotel will have 134 SpringHill Suites and 125 Element rooms, an extended-stay product that project backers expect will be especially attractive to business people and tourists. Element guests stay for a little more than five days on average, DiBiase said.

“That’s a person that’s coming in, probably a business traveler or a family, and spending significant dollars downtown,” he said of Element guests.

Other hotel amenities include a 216-space underground parking garage; 4,200 square feet of eighth-floor meeting space; an indoor pool and fitness center; a street-level, indoor-outdoor restaurant; an outdoor courtyard; and a rooftop restaurant and outdoor bar.

Hotel Equities will employ about 175 full-time people and 60 to 75 part-time workers, DiBiase said. More than 300 construction jobs and 200 spin-off jobs will be created as a result of the building activity, he said.

The construction also will result in an estimated $117 million in annual economic activity over two years, and the economic impact of the hotel once completed will be $35 million a year, DiBiase said.

The Marriott’s groundbreaking comes a few months after the launch of Kinship Landing, a boutique hotel with 80 beds in a mix of 27 private rooms, seven suites and six shared dorms that’s under construction on South Nevada Avenue and targeted for a 2020 opening. Also, a 10-story, 168-room Hilton Garden Inn is to open this month at Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue.

Two more downtown hotels, The Mining Exchange and a Holiday Inn & Express Suites, opened in recent years in remodeled office buildings.

“We went a long time without any hotel development downtown,” Suthers said. “The fact that Hilton Garden Inn is being completed, this one’s (Marriott) coming quick on its heels, is a pretty good indication that people feel comfortable in major hotel investment. My guess is we’re going to have another one or two coming up here pretty quickly.”

The new Marriott will join a growing list of projects in a multi-block area in south and southwest downtown generally bounded by Vermijo and Wahsatch avenues, Fountain Boulevard and Conejos Street. They include:

• The Atomic Cowboy bar, Denver Biscuit Co., Fat Sully’s Pizza and Dos Santos Tacos were among restaurant and entertainment uses that opened last year in the remodeled Trolley Building in the 500 block of South Tejon.

• The 33-unit Blue Dot Place apartments opened on South Nevada Avenue in 2016; the 27-unit Casa Mundi Lofts will open this year next door to the Marriott hotel site; and the 184-unit Cascade Apartments are under construction at Cascade Avenue and Rio Grande Street and targeted to open in late spring or early summer of 2020.

• The U.S. Olympic Museum is to open to the public next year at Vermijo and Sierra Madre Street.

• A 10,000-seat outdoor stadium that will be home to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team and house other sports and events has been proposed southwest of Cimarron and Sahwatch streets.

The Colorado Springs City Council designated the Marriott hotel site as an urban renewal district; the property had been home to the vacant Al De Mark auto repair shop, a vacant lot and two small office buildings, which the city deemed blighted.

The urban renewal designation allows new sales and property tax revenues generated by the project to be used to fund sidewalk, utility and other public improvements at the site.

Also, the Marriott hotel is the first Colorado Springs project to take advantage of a 1 ½-year-old federal program that offers tax breaks to investors who fund projects in state-designated “opportunity zones” — distressed areas in need of enhanced economic activity.

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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