Hospitality & Tourism  December 19, 2014

CU, Boulder rekindle talks about hotel/conference center

BOULDER — Officials from the University of Colorado and the city of Boulder’s planning department have revived talks about the possibility of partnering on a hotel and conference center, an idea that over the years has been discussed but never acted upon.

Steve Thweatt, CU’s vice chancellor of administration, said Friday that the meetings, which have taken place during the last two months, are designed for each party to understand the other’s goals and discuss possible options.

“These meetings are strictly exploratory,” Thweatt said. “We are simply discussing the possibility. Size and location have not been discussed.” But Thweatt added, “This might be the right time to move on this. We would know sometime during the first quarter of next year.”

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The university and the city of Boulder have had discussions at different times during the past 15 years about jointly building a conference center that would help keep meetings in Boulder instead of organizers using space primarily at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield or the Westin Westminster in Westminster.

Michael Banuelos, communications director for the city of Boulder’s planning department, said this is CU’s project, but the city is letting the university know that it will be investting money to improve several areas within city limits that “would complement a potential hotel/conference center.”  The city expects to collect about $27 million over the next three years through a 0.3 percent sales tax increase  called the Community, Culture and Safety tax that was approved by voters in November. The money is earmarked  to improve community spaces, bolster cultural projects and organizations and enhance safety in and around the downtown.

Money will be spent on projects including the Civic Area Vision Plan – public space downtown bounded by Ninth and 17th streets on the west and east and Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue on the north and south. The plan sets guidelines for the mix of private uses the city would like to see in the area, as well as placing an emphasis on public-private partnerships. The tax money also is being spent to improve  the Universiy Hill Commercial District near the university and several other arts and culture related projects.

But Banuelos said these areas are not being presented to CU as potential sites for a hotel/conference center, but rather pointing out to CU that “any existing and/or future developments will benefit from these public investments.”

In 2008, CU surveyed its various colleges, schools and academic departments to determine whether or not the university itself could regularly fill an on-campus conference facility.

 NOTE: This story was updated Dec. 23 with comments from city of Boulder’s planning department.

BOULDER — Officials from the University of Colorado and the city of Boulder’s planning department have revived talks about the possibility of partnering on a hotel and conference center, an idea that over the years has been discussed but never acted upon.

Steve Thweatt, CU’s vice chancellor of administration, said Friday that the meetings, which have taken place during the last two months, are designed for each party to understand the other’s goals and discuss possible options.

“These meetings are strictly exploratory,” Thweatt said. “We are simply discussing the possibility. Size and location have not been discussed.” But Thweatt added, “This might…

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