There are grand openings and there are soft opening. And apparently, there are quasi-openings that are held just to prove a point.
Proponents of the plan to build the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Conference Center, which had long been stalled by hotel competitors who opposed state tax incentives for the property, resolutely planted boundary stakes for the project in late April, sending a clear message the project would go as planned.
The Denver Post reported the stakes were located around the 80-acre parcel in the High Point development south of Denver International Airport. An erosion control fence was erected near a planned retention pond.
If completed, the 1,500-room facility is expected to be the largest in the state of Colorado, and one of the largest non-casino hotels in the country, and would allow the city of Aurora the ability to host conferences, sports events and more. The project has a 36-month construction schedule, with a planned opening targeted for Thanksgiving 2018.
Ground ultimately was broken at the end of April, with some officials are still questioning the project’s legitimacy and validity. However, Leeann Morrill, the state's first assistant attorney general, told the Colorado Economic Development Commission last month that a ground breaking would make the state incentive contract irrevocable.
Those in favor of the project trumpeted its ability to attract tourism and sports events, and to bring business to the area.
"This milestone marks substantial progress towards bringing hundreds of thousands of new visitors to Colorado and the creation of thousands of jobs," said Ira Mitzner, president of Houston-based RIDA Development Corp., the hotel's developer.
An estimated 1,200 to 1,300 construction workers will be employed during the course of construction, furthering the estimated economic impact.