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Anschutz Medical Campus Digs Into The Meet Of The Matter: Aurora Conference Center

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“This is such a welcome addition and it’s something we have desperately needed in urban Aurora,” Sally Mounier, Aurora city councilwoman for north Aurora said. “The economic impact that’s going to be spurred will create even more development, which is going to trickle out into our neighborhoods and allow them to really prosper.”

BY QUINCY SNOWDON STAFF WRITER 09/22/14 7:49 am :: Last updated: 09/22/14 7:49 am

AURORA | The crown that is Aurora’s Fitzsimons redevelopment area is getting a shiny new jewel.

Corporex Colorado, the commercial development giant that has been instrumental in revamping the blossoming area of north Aurora, broke ground on a new Hyatt hotel and posh conference center Sept. 17.

“This is such a welcome addition and it’s something we have desperately needed in urban Aurora,” Sally Mounier, Aurora city councilwoman for north Aurora said. “The economic impact that’s going to be spurred will create even more development, which is going to trickle out into our neighborhoods and allow them to really prosper.”

Located just east of the corner of Ursula Street and East 13th Place, the $90-million project will boast 249 hotel rooms and 31,500 square feet of conference space, which almost matches the conference capacity of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver. A terrace will connect the main building with an adjacent 41,000 sq. ft. parking structure that will house 525 parking spaces. The city has agreed to pay $25 million to Corporex to build the conference center and manage the facility for a $50,000 annual fee.

The development is slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2016 and bring approximately 200 permanent and 685 temporary construction jobs to the city.

Corporex partnered with the City of Aurora on the project, which will result in the city owning the conference center and parking garage, while Corporex will own and operate the hotel.

“The City of Aurora has been a fantastic partner,” Mark Witkiewicz, chief operating officer of Corporex Colorado, said. “One thing we’ve really liked about the city is that they want to work with us as much as we want to work with them. They understand where their future is and they want to do the right things.”

The conference space will be the first and only of its kind in Aurora and is a project some city officials believe will fill a gaping economic hole for the city.

“We’ve needed a conference center for a long time,” Wendy Mitchell, president and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council, said. “Being right across from Anschutz, this space will mainly serve the campus, with a lot of medical conferences and medical-based tourism now able to come in that up until now didn’t really have anywhere to go.”

For years, the city has had to turn away parties interested in hosting conference-style events in Aurora or refer them to appropriately resourced amenities in Denver.

“Space is a limitation we face,” Justin Clark, director of sales and marketing for VISIT Aurora, said. “One of our main partners is Crowne Plaza, which has a fairly large convention meeting space, but it’s only one location, so having another option will be really, really wonderful. When we have interested clients come to town, we’ll now have more capability.”

That increased conference capacity will help to bring more disposable spending dollars into the city, though the hotel is where the majority of the economic upside lies, according to Mitchell.

“It’s the hotel and the beds that are the important result of the conference space,” she said. “When you have a conference, all of the people stay here which produces lodger’s tax and more people spending money right here in Aurora, which the city obviously really likes to see.”

On top of the conference center and hotel, Corporex has tentative plans to erect at least two additional residential buildings, another $90-million project which would add close to 500 apartment units and approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space to the area in coming years. Mitchell believes that the addition of housing so close to the Anschutz campus has the ability to turn the Fitzsimons area into a hub in which medical and bioscience professionals can both live and work.

“Up until now, the only housing we’ve had has been onsite on the Anschutz campus,” she said. “But I really think you’ll start to see some of the doctors and nurses living over there (Fitzsimons). You’ll see people moving in and around the campus, which will be good for everybody – for the doctors so they don’t have to drive 15 miles after a 48-hour shift, and for the city by having more people with disposable income to spend here in Aurora.”

While the redevelopment of the Fitzsimons/Anschutz area is less than a decade old, Mitchell said that the frequent addition of projects from investors like Corporex is a step toward enhancing the city’s long-term plans for the once defunct part of town.

“When we were lucky enough to get the (Anschutz) campus relocated to Aurora, the vision was to have something to help redevelop Colfax, and we’re starting to see that process take place” she said. “Things don’t happen overnight, but with the hospital expanding, all of the entities around the campus and all of the traffic that brings – you’re starting to see so much new development as a result, and we’re very excited about that.”

#hyatthotelconferencecenter #aurora

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