Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Does Denver have enough hotels? (probably)

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

Concerns about the number and location of hotels was one of the logistical issues Denver had to overcome to host the 2008 Democratic Convention. Here's an overview of the situation:

The 2008 Democratic National Convention will need roughly half the hotel rooms in the metro area, with those properties downtown and along highways with relatively quick access to the city getting priority. Denver and the surrounding area "absolutely" have more than enough hotel rooms to accommodate the huge gathering, according to Richard Scharf, head of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Democratic National Committee already has selected the approximately 17,000 hotel rooms it wants to reserve in the following areas: downtown, Cherry Creek, Denver Tech Center, Sixth Avenue West, Highway 36 North, Stapleton and the vicinity of Denver International Airport. The six-county area has about 40,000 hotel rooms, compared with the 35,000 rooms in and around Boston, the host city for the Democratic convention in 2004.

Hotels "that could be put on an efficient shuttle route" to the Pepsi Center got preference for the Denver meeting, Scharf said. "It's not going to be disruptive to downtown," Scharf added. He said late August, when the convention will take place, is typically a time when Denver hosts fewer business travelers.

More hotel rooms than Boston? I was surprised by that. But not surprisingly, there are more coming:
Among the hotels that have set aside rooms is the Ritz-Carlton Denver, a 202-room property set to open in August 2007. "It's great for us - great timing," said Shannon Gilbert, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
and maybe these also
An Indiana company is expected to start demolishing the Motor Hotel parking garage at 14th and Stout streets next week to pave the way for two new hotels on a parking lot across from the Colorado Convention Center.

While officials from the developer, Merrillville, Ind.-based Whiteco Industries, didn't return phone calls, there's an outside chance that the 27-story Embassy Suites and 20-story Homewood Suites hotels could open in time for the Democratic Convention in August 2008.

"The two hotels combined, if they haven't changed their plans, would bring something like 400 to 500 new rooms right across from the convention center," said Charlie Woolley, principal of the St. Charles Town Co., which sold the land to Whiteco.

The issue is always how close the hotels are to the convention site, and how good are the rooms. Another thing to keep an eye on in the run-up to the convention.


Gabe Stein said...

Let's not forget the new light rail down the southeast corridor, which makes a lot of properties farther from down town extremely accesible for attendees who don't mind braving mass transit. I dunno if the convention would put people up knowing they'd have to take light rail, but it's a thought.

Matt Pizzuti said...

One of the biggest things that excites me about the Democratic Covention coming to Denver is how it might impact the urban landscape of Denver. There's a minor building boom going on in Downtown Denver right now - whole neighborhoods of 10 to 20 story mid-rises just outside the Central Business District have risen out of dirt fields and old railroad yards in a matter of a couple years. But this construction frenzy isn't as intense as booms in the past and it's eclipsed by the huge construction projects going on in other U.S. cities, like San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, and most of all, Miami. Denver's slowly becoming a big city, but other places that have already gotten there are raising the bar.

Some new hotels might go up in Denver soon, but over the last few years Denver residents have seen project after project posponed for months, years, or mothballed indefinitely. Construction costs fluctuate unpredictably, and developers have been worse than timid. I hope the hotels mentioned here go up, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were only under construction when the Dems come to town. It isn't economically wise to expedite construction for just one week of business, after which there won't likely be a sustained, permanent increase in demand.

But I'm definitely excited for a chance to show off some fantastic new Developments that Denver has going on. The Denver Regional Council of Governments - a coalition of most of the city and county governments that make up the Denver Metro Area, have established some incredibly forward-thinking planning programs to make a more stable, environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented and ecologically progressive plans for Denver's future See Metro Vision 2030 and the FasTracks Regional Light-Rail plan. It's a model for the country in urban-planning that forward-thinking Dems everywhere should follow, and the benefits of smart urban planning go beyond asthetic and environmental advantages into economic, class and poverty issues as well. It's all about cooperation between government and citizens - something Dems have always stood for - to create a better life for everyone. I think Democrats all over the country should pick up the cause of Smart Growth and transit-oriented development, and Denver is a model for it.

Matt said...

Gabe- Good point. Delegates always get bused, but they're just one part of the crowds that have to get to the convention. For the press, mass transit options probably make a lot of sense