Regional Tourism Act: What happened to sports-prehistoric park, other rejected projects?

Categories: Business, News

The city of Glendale was one of four applicants whose tourism projects were not chosen last year to receive state sales-tax rebates under the Regional Tourism Act. But as explained in this week's cover story, "Fantasy Island," Glendale don't give a shit; the city known for its iconic strip club is going forward anyway with plans to build a riverwalk along Cherry Creek.

But what happened to the three other projects that weren't chosen to receive RTA funding? Our research indicates that they aren't faring so well.

The RTA allows local governments to apply to the Colorado Economic Development Commission to create a special district for a particular tourism project. Once it is built, a percentage of the state sales-tax revenue generated by the new tourism attraction is rebated to the district to help pay for the project.

In all, six entities applied last year: Glendale for the riverwalk; Aurora for the Gaylord hotel and convention center; Pueblo, which wanted to enhance its own riverwalk, expand its convention center and build a professional bull-riding academy, among other projects; Estes Park, which wanted to redevelop the historic Elkhorn Lodge and more; Douglas County, which wanted to build a sports park and prehistoric museum; and Montrose County, which was planning a host of small projects.

The RTA specifies that the Economic Development Commission can approve two projects a year for three years. After a failed attempt by Glendale and others to change the law to allow all six projects to be approved last year, the commission chose just two: Pueblo's riverwalk expansion and bull-riding academy and Aurora's massive hotel and convention center, which is now mired in controversy. More than twenty Colorado hotels are petitioning the commission to revoke the project's approval, saying that the finances and players have changed so much that the whole thing needs to be reconsidered.

Estes Park RTA Application
Renderings of the arts center.
But whatever happened to the projects proposed by Estes Park, Douglas County and Montrose County?

The man who spearheaded Montrose County's proposal, which included 141 possible tourism projects, did not return phone calls and e-mails. Officials at the county say they don't have any information and a call to the Downtown Montrose Visitors Center yielded a recording explaining that the center isn't open yet.

Estes Park's proposed project was called Elkhorn Adventure Area and would have included renovating and expanding the historic Elkhorn Lodge, in addition to building "a performing arts center, a museum and living history center and a ski adventure park with year-round skiing, snowboarding and tubing," according to a town webpage.

But Kate Rusch, the public information officer for Estes Park, tell us that the town has no plans to go forward with the Elkhorn Adventure Area. "We were disappointed to not get the RTA funding," she says. "It was critical for the project."

Continue for more, including the fate of Douglas County's project.

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RobertChase topcommenter

Any program wasting tax dollars expanding Pueblo's hideous fantasy ditch and its supposed "professional bull-riding academy" needs to be terminated immediately.  Developers pushed the expansion of Pueblo's convention center repeatedly and voters rejected it repeatedly.

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