Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gaylord Entertainment Plans Resort and Convention Hotel in Aurora, Colorado

Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET) announced today its plans to develop a resort and convention hotel in Aurora, Colo. Located less than ten minutes from Denver International Airport, one of the most well-traveled and accessible airports in the world, and 25 minutes from downtown Denver, Aurora is ideally situated for both business and leisure travelers. The Aurora site will be located on 85 acres in LNR Property CPI Fund's High Point Master Plan Development, and will feature breathtaking panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. The company expects the resort to be open for business in mid-to-late 2015.

According to Gaylord's research of major meetings markets, the Denver metropolitan market was rated a top ten destination by meeting planners and is one of the highest growth areas in the country.

"We are thrilled by the prospect of a Gaylord property in the Denver Market, which has fast become one of the most desirable tourist and business travel destinations in the United States and a destination of choice for meeting planners and conventions," said Colin V. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer, Gaylord Entertainment. "Our loyal customers who return over and over again to our existing properties have been telling us for some time that they would love to be able to replicate the Gaylord experience in a market in the Western region of the United States. We believe that this is the perfect location for meeting that demand."

The project is expected to cost approximately $800 million and will be funded by Gaylord, potential joint venture partners and the tax incentives that are being provided as a result of the agreement between the company and the city of Aurora.

Last night, the Aurora City Council approved an agreement with Gaylord that includes a financial package. Under this agreement, the city pledges to collect virtually all of the new taxes generated by the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center and reinvest them into the project. Components of the financial plan will require agreement by additional local jurisdictions and selection by the State of Colorado as a recipient of funds from the recently enacted Regional Tourism Act. Over the next 12 months Gaylord will continue to work with city, county and state officials to secure the necessary approvals required for the incentive plan and for construction to commence.

Gaylord has selected Colorado-based Hensel Phelps Construction Co. as the general contractor for the project. Gaylord hopes to break ground on construction in mid-to-late 2012.

"When you see the quality and service at a Gaylord property you understand why they get so much repeat business. This project will bring thousands of new visitors to Colorado," said Ed Tauer, Mayor of Aurora, Colo. "The community benefits are awesome. Our top priority is jobs, and this brings over 1,800 new jobs with a great employer."

The property is expected to initially feature:

-1,500 luxurious guest rooms
-400,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space
-A dramatic atrium setting offering panoramic views of the full Rocky Mountain vista, from Longs Peak down to Pikes Peak
-Numerous hotel amenities that Gaylord's customers have come to expect

"We are in the very early stages of planning and will make certain that any project we pursue is done so under the appropriate economic conditions and provides the appropriate returns for our shareholders," said Reed. "We are pleased to work with the city of Aurora, Adams County and the state of Colorado on the next steps of this project and look forward to becoming a valuable part of the Aurora community."

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