By a 65-35 margin, Denver voters approved a measure to spend more than $700 million to expand the Colorado Convention Center and to build a new National Western Center for equestrian events such as the National Western Stock Show. No new taxes will be created for the projects, as funds still are being collected by current levies that won't expire until 2023. The convention facility celebrated its 25th anniversary in June.
"We're thrilled to have the support of the people of Denver behind our city's convention and tourism industry," said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of Visit Denver, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We are just completing a master plan for the Colorado Convention Center, and now with the voters' approval we should be able to put out an RFP for an architect by the end of the year. We have established what we need, and now we will move ahead with the final design and construction."
A description of the additions for the convention center that was provided to voters includes up to 85,000 square feet of breakout and ballroom space; 120,000 square feet of pre-function space, including a 50,000-square-foot rooftop outdoor terrace; technology upgrades; and new and upgraded networking spaces.
Following recommendations from a feasibility study conducted by the Strategic Advisory Group, the city already has hired MIG and Fentress Architects, the original architects of the Center and its expansion in 2004, to create a master plan for the facility, whose annual economic impact is more than $500 million. The city now has nearly 2,200 hotel rooms within a block of the convention center, more than 8,600 hotel rooms within walking distance and will have more than 10,000 downtown rooms total by the end of 2016.
Because the expansion will grow from the roof of the existing Colorado Convention Center, the work should have very little impact on other business in the building. "We're very fortunate that in 1999, the architects and the City had the foresight to reinforce the roof during the expansion of the center to allow for vertical growth," said Rachel Benedick, vice president of sales and services at Visit Denver.