LONGMONT — Mississippi hospitality developer the Thrash Group is eying a city-owned parking lot in downtown Longmont for a $24.5 million boutique hotel, and public bodies are considering an agreement that would subsidize nearly a fifth of that cost.
The project, known in Longmont city documents as Hotel Longmont, would be built at the northwest corner of Kimbark Street and Third Avenue.
In addition to 84 guest rooms, Hotel Longmont is proposed to “include approximately 4,000 square feet of commercial space at ground level, including pre-function, meeting space, retail or a combination of both, as well as an approximate 5,000 square foot rooftop restaurant with views and outdoor patio space facing to the west,” according to a memo provided to Longmont City Council, which is set to review Thrash’s request for incentives next week. “The developer also proposes to construct a one-level parking structure providing about 65 hotel-utilized spaces on the upper level and 75 public spaces on the ground level.”
Longmont’s Main Street and broader downtown area have long been a focal point for revitalization. The development of a boutique hotel would appear to be a natural outgrowth of those efforts.
“Longmont truly was a natural fit for us,” Thrash Group partner Joseph Thrash said in a prepared statement. “The individuality of Longmont and this unique opportunity to connect with the city made complete sense to our team. We were excited to learn more about this special community and collaborate on a boutique hotel project and upscale restaurant that truly encapsulated the spirit and culture of Longmont, Colorado.”
Should the project move forward, it would represent for city leaders the achievement of a decades-old vision.
“There’s been a need for lodging downtown for as long as anyone can remember,” Longmont Downtown Development Authority executive director Kimberlee McKee told BizWest Friday. “In the past 30 years, we’ve seen [the concept] continuously come up in our master planning for development and in our community outreach.”
The need for such lodging is increasingly important as Visit Longmont, the city’s local tourism organization, has observed a recent uptick in travelers moving through Longmont — many on their way to Rocky Mountain National Park — but not necessarily stopping.
“Having a different kind of hotel product in the market will really catalyze the business that we have up and down the downtown corridor” to better cash in on those visitors, McKee said.
Should the project progress as planned, Hotel Longmont could be built by mid-2024.
That timeframe is contingent upon the approval of a series of incentives for Thrash.
The public contribution to Hotel Longmont’s construction would be $4.3 million, or about 17.6% of the overall project cost estimate. That total includes the value of publicly owned parking lot land, $2.3 million in tax increment funding, $1.2 million in lodging-tax reimbursements and $400,000 in downtown improvement program proceeds from the LDDA.
City leaders, of course, expect an economic return on public investment.
The Longmont Economic Development Partnership, according to a City Council memo, anticipates that the hotel could generate more than $6 million in tax revenue over 10 years. The overall economic benefit to the city over that decade could top $108 million.
“Downtown needs this type of first-class property that adds another element to our existing community and economic synergy,” said Chris McGilvray, board chairman of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, which voted last week in favor of chipping in some of its funding to help move the hotel project forward. “It’s a project that will have a positive effect on downtown businesses both economically and culturally.”
While a boutique hotel downtown is one of the city’s hospitality goals, it’s not the only one.
In 2018, the Plaza Convention Center closed, and in 2021, the adjoining Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel was purchased by a developer intent on transforming the lodge into apartments, leaving Longmont without a large convention center-hotel operation.
“We’ve been unable to really go after different meetings and conferences because we haven’t had the right kind of meeting place,” McKee said.
The city, along with Visit Longmont, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority and the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative, began studying the feasibility of building a performing arts and convention center in 2019, an effort that has yet to bear much fruit.
While the Hotel Longmont project won’t provide as many rooms or convention square footage as was lost at the Plaza, city leaders say its development would represent a step in the right direction.
“I don’t think this will be the end of all of our needs,” McKee said, “but I think it’s a great place to start.”