DALLAS — Denver’s latest plan to build a long-delayed hotel at Denver International Airport would use revenue bonds to finance construction of the facility atop a planned commuter rail line at the south end of the landmark Jeppesen Terminal.
The city would hire famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to design the hotel in a way that complements the terminal’s tent-roof theme.
The rail station is part of the Regional Transportation District’s $6.5 billion FasTracks plan to build 122 miles of commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, and 21,000 new parking spaces at light-rail and bus stations, as well as improve bus connections across the eight-county district.
The DIA Westin Hotel has been delayed over the past decade by recessions, declines in airline travel amid terrorist attacks, war, soaring oil prices, and the bankruptcy of the airport’s primary carrier, United Airlines, and its hometown carrier, Frontier Airlines.
It is expected to cost $170 million, according to city officials. DIA had to write off $10.4 million in design costs for a previous version of the hotel.
Plans call for the city to own the hotel but for the Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the parent company of Westin Hotels, to operate it under contract. City officials expect hotel revenues to service the airport revenue bonds used to finance construction.
The Denver City Council will see a presentation on the hotel plans from city staff tomorrow.
The rail line, known as the Eagle P3, is expected to include 22.8-miles of electrified commuter rail from Denver Union Station in downtown to DIA with five intermediate stations.
Like the airport hotel, the rail line has been high on officials’ wish list since DIA opened in 1995 in a location that many critics called too far from Denver’s city center. The old Stapleton International Airport, which was much closer to downtown, has since been redeveloped into an urban mixed-use neighborhood.
An election to increase sales taxes to cover the higher cost of the massive FasTracks system project will be held next year.
The FasTracks plan, approved in 2004, has risen in cost from the original estimate of $4.7 billion to the current estimate of $6.5 billion. Without the additional tax revenue, the project would not reach completion as promised in 2017, RTD officials said.
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Corrected May 18, 2010 at 10:21AM: An earlier version had the wrong schedule for a vote on a sales tax increase to fund FasTracks.