From park and ride, Hotel Row has been long-term goal

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 6/19/18

The grand opening of the new Hyatt Place Hotel, right next door to the full-service Marriott Hotel, on June 7 marked the “completion of the journey” so to speak. It was the culminating …

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From park and ride, Hotel Row has been long-term goal

Posted

The grand opening of the new Hyatt Place Hotel, right next door to the full-service Marriott Hotel, on June 7 marked the “completion of the journey” so to speak.

It was the culminating development on the property which was once owned by RTD as a Park `n Ride facility.

So, how did we go from a park n’ ride to “hotel row?” It came about through a land swap back in the early 2000’s between the City of Westminster and RTD.

The city wanted the Park `n Ride site for re-development opportunities and RTD wanted to move the parking facility farther north along U.S. 36 for better bus ingress/egress and for a future commuter rail station with parking.

The trigger in the deal was working out the site plan with the developer of the Shops at Walnut Creek to use the north end of their site for the station/parking.

Synergy created at the interchange

Today, the former RTD property is home to three hotels — the Marriott, Hyatt Place and Drury Inn and Suites — plus a restaurant and small retail development. The three hotels, coupled with the pre-existing Westin Westminster Hotel and Conference Center on the other side of the interchange, creates significant synergy the the 104th Avenue/Church Ranch Boulevard corridor.

Together, the four hotels represent 906 rooms along with restaurant and numerous amenities. White Lodging and Etkin Johnson, joint venture partners of both the Marriott and Hyatt Place, played a key role in achieving what stands in place today.

They had the vision and confidence that the location would work. Also, kudos go to Lucas Laidlaw, General Manager of both the Marriott and Hyatt Place properties. He is a dynamo and finds time to embrace community service as well.

Positive results from the land swap

Obviously, development on all four quadrants of the 104th Avenue/Church Ranch Boulevard and U.S. 36 interchange have played and will continue to be strong in tax-generation and employment opportunities.

However, I want to plant in your mind what would have been “missed” if the RTD park n’ ride was still in place from almost 20 years ago.

Let’s start with construction and furnishings for the Marriott and Hyatt Place.

White Lodging/Etkin Johnson invested $42.6 Million in building the Marriott Hotel and $27.8 Million in constructing Hyatt Place.

That is more than $70 million in new construction representing hundreds of jobs.

Then comes the job creation at both hotels to provide the various services extended to hotel customers. These represent approximately 150 jobs.

With people staying at the hotels, comes tax revenue to Westminster, Jefferson County, State of Colorado and others.

Plus, the development of this quadrant of the interchange further established Westminster as a strong tourist and conference generating site started by the Westin Westminster Hotel and Conference Center.

Needless to say, the vision and commitment of the involved parties are serving Westminster and the region quite well.

What’s happening at 92nd Ave. and Federal Boulevard

Take note, beware, attention and look out: If you haven’t already noticed, improvements at the intersection of 92nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard are in full swing.

Translated, that means added congestion and delays at this already busy intersection while construction crews tackle a plethora of improvements.

Let me read off the list of improvements provided by the City of Westminster — double left-turns in all directions (you could stop right there as this will be a major enhancement), a new traffic signal, removing and replacing an old water line, storm drainage improvements, undergrounding existing overhead electrical lines, patterned concrete medians and ADA sidewalk ramps.

The timeline for the overall project calls for completion at an undetermined date in 2019.

So, you might want to consider an alternate route if that is feasible for your daily drive.

A solid collaborative effort

This much needed set of improvements is another excellent example of intergovernmental cooperation. The Cities of Federal Heights and Westminster along with the Colorado Department of Transportation are partners in this project.

Federal Heights, the project manager for the work, applied for and was awarded a federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

The $6.2 million project is funded with FHWA, paying 83 percent, and the two cities each paying approximately 8.6 percent of the cost.

This is certainly a good use of federal tax money.

California mandate is concerning

Did you happen to see the news coverage about the State of California mandating all new homes to be built to have solar power?

Don’t get me wrong about solar power — I have solar panels on our home — but California’s action is disturbing from at least two considerations.

First, it is not a mandate of the elected California state legislature. The requirement is an edict from the five-member California Energy Commission.

While public meetings were held by the Commission about the solar power requirement, the political dynamics are quite different than the elected state legislature enacting such an onerous requirement.

Secondly, the added cost is significant to have solar panels installed as part of new construction or be a party to a solar farm.

According to a New York Times article, the requirement is expected to add between $8,000 and $12,000 to the cost of a home.

This mandate, which takes effect in two years, runs counter-productive to attempts to curtail spiraling housing costs - let alone any attempt to reducing housing costs to allow more people to qualify for their own home.

Solar power is a good way to go on home electricity.

However, it should remain a decision of the individual home purchaser, not some energy agency or even a state legislature.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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