BY FREDA MIKLIN
The history of the Westin Hotel project goes back more than five years. On April 15, 2013, the Greenwood Village city council agreed to sell 3.5 acres of property to Greenwood Village Hotel, LLC (GVH), a group led by developers from Wisconsin, to build a luxury Westin Hotel at 8880 E. Caley Ave. In its monthly newsletter from May 2013, the city said that the hotel was, “expected to begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2013.” Anticipating that the project would move forward, the city completed the sale of the property to GVH Sept. 15, 2015, for $1.6 million, contingent on the hotel getting built.
Over the next few years, preliminary construction drawings were informally reviewed with city staff, but nothing was ever formally submitted or approved. The project stalled.
In the summer of 2017, the city council set a deadline for the developer to explain the delay. Last February, Mark Flaherty of GVH told the council that the construction costs were much higher than they had anticipated and the only way they could make the project work financially was by adding a 105,000-square-foot office building to the 3.5-acre property, alongside the hotel. He also indicated that he was working with nearby property owners/developers Granite Properties, Confluent Development, and Koelbel and Company to come up with a plan to get the project done.
On March 5, city council agreed to a ninth addendum to the contract with GVH to give them more time, but it included key performance deadlines: 1) that a public input meeting be held by June 15 to present their plan; 2) that a formal site development plan be presented by Dec. 1; 3) that an application for a building permit with complete construction documents be submitted by July 31, 2019.
On April 30, GVH sold the hotel property to G-C GV Land LLC (Confluent), for $1.6 million, resulting in Confluent taking over GVH’s position with the city vis-à-vis the hotel project.
On June 13, a joint public input meeting was held at the Highline Community Church for the hotel property at 8880 E. Caley Avenue and for a 10-story office building along with a six-floor parking garage at 6165 S. Willow Drive.
The notice of the public input meeting, which was not distributed through the city’s “Notify Me” application until the day it was being held, stated that the proposal for 8880 E. Caley Avenue was for “a high-end hotel with approximately 175 rooms within eight floors, a six-story office building, a limited retail component, and a mix of surface and underground parking within a parking structure.”
GV City Manager John Jackson opened the meeting by saying, “Community is built on the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” and that this was an opportunity for the neighborhood and the applicant (developer) to exchange information and views about these projects. He apologized for the late notice of the meeting to those who use the “Notify Me” application, explaining that it was an oversight that occurred due to a staff change.
Marshall Burton, CEO and president of Confluent Development, soon took the floor and told the crowd of 60 people that Confluent and Granite Properties were now the co-developers of both the hotel and the two office buildings on the hotel property and at 6165 S. Willow Drive. He described the plan for the Caley Avenue property as a “four-star amenities hotel with a mix of uses on the property.”
Given the importance attached to the Westin name by GV city council in previous discussions. Burton said that Confluent inherited the franchise agreement but needed to show Westin that they can deliver the hotel.
Blake Mourer of Open Studio Architecture said the plan for the hotel site was unchanged from what was proposed earlier in the year by the previous developer, and that the 10-story office building was intended to be a “sister building” to Granite Place at 6175 S. Willow Drive.
Burton said that it was difficult to build a single-purpose hotel in a suburban location. Adding the office building to share the amenities made the economics work.
Karen Blilie, a GV city council member from 1999-2007, who has stayed closely involved in the community, said, “The hotel site was city property sold to create a hotel that would be a community asset. Putting more office space on this site is not a benefit to the city. This area will be an office park. An office park is not a Village Center.”
An additional 2,000 people are expected to work in the office building.