Denver Seeks Extension of Taxes, Hoping to Expand Convention Facility
Denver officials are working to place an initiative on the November ballot asking city voters to extend parts of the hotel occupancy and car-rental taxes that are set to expire in 2023; the city wants to use the funds immediately to improve the Colorado Convention Center and replace facilities at the National Western Complex. According to the Denver Post, if the initiative passes, the city would be able to borrow $476 million, which would be repaid through the tourist taxes. The current hotel tax in the city is 14.75 percent and the car-rental tax is 11.25 percent.
The drive to expand the center is supported by a yearlong study completed in March 2014 by the Strategic Advisory Group, which gathered input from meeting professionals, industry experts and others. The research showed the convention center's users would like to see new meeting and ballroom space, more networking and special-event space, and improved technology. "For more than two decades, the center has been the goose laying the golden eggs, driving economic impact and creating jobs. We need to stay competitive and adjust to the changing trends and technologies," said Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver.
A master plan currently is being drawn up for the Colorado Convention Center, and the proposed improvements could cost more than $100 million. Funds for both the convention center and National Western Complex projects will become available as early as 2016.
"Denver has hired MIG and Fentress Architects, the original architects of the center, who are reviewing the recommendations of the SAG study and will have a complete program by August 2015," Scharf added.
The center now offers about 584,000 square feet of exhibit space and 63 meeting rooms; more than 3,000 hotel rooms are within a block of the facility, and 10,000 guest rooms are within walking distance.