Gaylord hotel project: Meet the locals in love with it (and one guy against it)
|Senn on YouTube.|
Senn was the lone person to testify against the project. President of the Laredo Highline Neighborhood Association, Senn was described in a Denver Post story as "a retired Aurora employee who ran for City Council in 2005 and frequently criticizes city actions."
Yesterday, he argued that Aurora's designation of the 125-acre parcel of land where Gaylord wants to build as "blighted" was an expensive move. The city council voted to do so back in August in order to afford Gaylord about $100 million in property tax breaks. But Senn said it could end up costing the state $7 million per year; that's the amount Colorado will have to pay to the Brighton 27J School District in order to make up for a loss of property tax revenue from the land, he said. He asked the commission "to prevent bags of cash from leaving the treasury."
Adams County Commissioner
Hansen formerly served on the city council of Thornton and then as that city's mayor. He noted that the piece of land where the Gaylord would be located is currently generating less than $10,000 in property taxes. "It's basically doing nothing out there," he said.
Though Adams County is not providing any cash incentives to Gaylord -- whereas Aurora has pledged a package that could be worth up to $300 million -- Hansen said the county is allowing the "blighted" designation under the state's urban-renewal law to go forward.
President, Hensel Phelps Construction Company
If Gaylord wins the incentives it says it needs to build its behemoth in Aurora, Hensel Phelps will be the company to do it. Wenaas said the construction would create 1,500 construction jobs -- jobs that are badly needed considering the state has lost about 60,000 such jobs since 2006. He noted that Hensel Phelps would likely hire between 500 and 600 subcontracting firms, more than 90 percent of which would be Colorado companies. "It'll stay local," he promised.
Economic Development Manager of Northglenn
Tuttle worked for Adams and Jefferson counties before taking the job in Northglenn. Yesterday, she was full of cliched praise for the Gaylord project, calling it a "win-win," "a dream project," and "a major home run." She and others emphasized their commitment to regionalism. "This is a partnership," she said. "This is a regional partnership."
Vice President of Transportation, South East Business Partnership
The South East Business Partnership represents the interests of the southeastern I-25 corridor, and Klausing, who spent part of his career as an attorney, looks out for the area's transportation interests. How is the Gaylord project relevant to his work? "These kind of projects lift all economic boats," he told the commission.
Vice President, Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation
Claymore, who once worked for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, also emphasized regionalism. She told a story about how a packaging company headquartered in Golden merged with an Atlanta company and, after a few years, moved its operations to Georgia. The reason, according to Claymore? DIA didn't have enough international flights. Claymore said she believes the Gaylord project could lure more international airlines and flights to DIA, which she called a "shining asset."
In addition to the folks who testified about Gaylord, four people spoke in favor of Pueblo's proposal to expand the city's convention center and riverwalk, and build a new aquatic center, along with three new mixed-use development projects that will include housing.
Two people spoke in favor and one spoke against a project in Estes Park that would renovate the historic Elkhorn Lodge and build a ski area, museum and history center in order to boost the area's lagging winter tourism.
And three people spoke for and one spoke against Douglas County's proposed Colorado Sports and Prehistoric Park. One person who spoke in favor of that project also praised Glendale's proposal to build a riverwalk.
The commission will hold another public hearing at 1 p.m. on April 23 in the Hershner Room at the Wells Fargo Center, 1700 Lincoln Street in Denver. Its nine members are scheduled to make a decision on May 18.
More from our Business archive: "Gaylord Entertainment makes pitch for tourism incentives to build hotel in Aurora."