Corporex Companies CEO Bill Butler has built hotels across the country and oversaw construction of Daniel Libeskind’s ground-breaking, crescent-shaped Ascent building outside of Cincinnati.
But he believes he’s never been involved in a game-changer quite like Denver’s new ART hotel.
Butler said in an interview Wednesday at a ceremony to mark the new 165-room, art-themed luxury property at East 12th Avenue and Broadway that he believes it will be a catalyst for the revitalization of Broadway around it in the Golden Triangle neighborhood.
On a broader scale, he said he thinks architects in other cities may try to undertake similar daring and nuanced projects as the hotel Corporex developed.
The thing that is likely to keep ART clones to a minimum, however, is that the project was an enormous undertaking that drew upon the specialties of its three instigators — Butler, Corporex Colorado Managing Director Mark Witkiewicz and Platte River Equity founder/art philanthropist Lanny Martin — and evolved repeatedly. And it breaks the common construction planning for just about every corporate hotel on the market, he said.
“I’ve probably built 30 hotels. We’ve never done anything like this. And some of them are pretty cool, with 14-story atriums,” said Butler, who operates out of the Covington, Kentucky headquarters of the 50-year-old commercial development company. “I don’t think that you could repeat this — or that you would want to repeat this.”
The ART, which officially opened on Tuesday, is the first luxury hotel in the Golden Triangle area and enters a market full of corporate endeavors as a rare non-branded hotel (though it is a part of the Preferred Hotels worldwide collection of independent properties).
It sits on land originally planned as condominiums until the one-two punch of the Great Recession and the rise of construction-defects lawsuits at the end of the past decade changed the owners’ minds, Martin noted.
Instead, Corporex and Martin teamed up to track down artists from around the world to install signature pieces in the hotel that overlooks the Denver Art Museum. There are bronze horses, avant-garde videos playing on the elevators and a dancing light display that stretches down the block and illuminates the porte cochére.
Beyond just the installed art, there also are unconventional aspects to the space, Butler explained as he walked around the property Wednesday. Davis Partnership was the principal architect for the hotel.
The fourth-floor terrace outside the hotel’s main lobby and bar is dotted with sculpture installations, including a gas-fired pit. Many windows in the guest rooms are nearly floor-to-ceiling, offering temporary residents a full view of the city around them.
Each floor has its own specific paintings that are reproduced in prints in the rooms, as well as floor-specific tiling. And even the ceilings have been designed differently throughout the hotel to give patrons one more thing to see.
“These aren’t the largest suites, but they’re thoughtful, with a lot of touch,” Butler said.
Butler has very high expectations, despite going into a neighborhood that is untested in hosting luxury hotels. He believes the hotel could generate its first sell-out as soon as this weekend.
And if visitors are as astonished by what they see as he was when he first saw the light display on Tuesday night, the sky-high expectations he has may just be within reach.
“It’s an experience. It’s like going to Disney,” he said, setting a bar that no Denver hotel has ever tried to reach. “You don’t have to go to Disney anymore. You can come here.”
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