Thursday, November 17, 2011

Competing Union Station Plans Bring Different Benefits to Denver




According to an article by Margaret Jackson in the Denver Post, dated 11/13/2011 the benefits are looked at over a 60 year lease term for both proposals for Union Station.

One proposal by the Union Station Alliance is for a boutique hotel to be built. They would like to transform the station into a 130 room boutique hotel, transforming the historic building into a hotel with the train room serving as the lobby, have local and national tenants, everything from quick serve to gourmet grab and go and a 24 hour diner. They are saying it would be “Denver’s living room”. This team estimates it will pay RTD $65 million over the term, generate $130 million in taxes, and create hundreds of jobs. This project would be financed with 11.5 million in equity, 7.5 million from the sale of tax credits, 50 percent debt, and 17 million from RTD. In the article Mark Falcone, whose company Continuum Partners makes up half the Union Station Neighborhood Team, says “ To risk that community asset by putting debt on it doesn’t make sense.” Falcone, goes on to say, “that a hotel lobby would not be able to handle the volume of expected passengers to move through the station which will serve as the model transit hub.” RTD anticipates 100,000 passengers a day which is only 40,000 less than what DIA handles a day on average.

Union Station Neighborhood Co. estimates its plan to generate $42.5 million over the same 60 year term. Their proposal features a Terminal Bar at the current Amtrak ticket window, and caf├ęs, and office space on the second and third floors. This team has identified 22 million in available sourcing including 17 million from RTD, 2 million equity investment from the developer, and 3 million in tax credits that would enable the work on the project to start immediately. One of the benefits of this plan is it does not use debt to leverage the project so there is no risk of losing this public asset to any lenders. This proposal generates enough revenue to RTD to cover operating costs to the building and gives them a long term capital repair and maintenance fund,” says Frank Cannon, development director for the project.

This Denver Post article ends mentioning a quote from Bill Mosher, senior managing director and principal of Trammell Crow who is representing the Denver Union Station Project Authority. “This building is the gateway and iconic representation of the (Fas Tracks) project and it needs to be active and it needs to be fun. Having the public place being primarily the train hall and having active uses in the wing buildings on the main floor is critical. I think both proposals do that in different ways.”

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