Feb. 25–Dueling hotel and water park projects — just 2 miles apart — might be on tap for Colorado Springs.
According to a proposal submitted Tuesday to city planners, a Wisconsin-based water park owner and operator plans to complete the partially finished Renaissance Hotel — a hulking, 10-story eyesore that has stood idle on the city’s far north side since a developer ran out of money more than five years ago.
Great Wolf Resorts Inc. of Madison also would construct an adjacent water park that would take the place of a conference center originally proposed as part of the hotel.
The project would be renamed the Great Wolf Lodge at InterQuest Marketplace, according to the proposal. Neither Great Wolf officials nor a Springs land planning firm that submitted the proposal returned phone calls. Officials with Flintco Inc., the Tulsa, Okla., general contractor that owns the Renaissance, also couldn’t be reached for comment.
The proposal submitted to city planners contains few other details but does say the hotel would have 311 rooms when completed, a slight increase from its original 300 rooms.
Great Wolf Resorts, which is owned by an affiliate of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, bills itself as North America’s largest operator of year-round, indoor water parks and adjacent hotels. The company operates a dozen locations, mostly in the Midwest and eastern United States, according to its website.
Great Wolf hasn’t completed the purchase of the Renaissance Hotel property, El Paso County records show, and it’s unknown if the company would own and operate the project outright or partner with Flintco or others.
The Renaissance Hotel has had a checkered past. John Q. Hammons, the late Missouri hotel developer, launched the project in 2007. But construction stopped two years later when he couldn’t come up with additional funding.
Flintco, the hotel’s general contractor, took over the property after a foreclosure sale in 2011. Flintco has been trying to sell the hotel ever since; it has been under contract a few times, but no deals have materialized, and the partially finished property is visible to thousands of vehicles passing by on Interstate 25.
If Great Wolf moves forward, its project would be the second hotel/water park on the north side — raising questions whether the city could support two such venues so close to each other.
Gary Erickson, developer of the Polaris Pointe retail center southeast of I-25 and North Gate Boulevard, announced a month ago that he planned to break ground in May on the Colorado Grand Resort and Hotel, which would have 165 rooms in its first phase and a 60,000-square-foot, 10-slide indoor water park.
But Erickson said Tuesday that he welcomes Great Wolf and has no plans to change his project. Both hotels and water parks would draw thousands of local residents and tourists, he said. The Wisconsin Dells area a few hours north of Chicago has about a dozen indoor water parks, he noted.
“Usually, where there’s one built, there’s two built,” Erickson said. “I think it will be fantastic for the city.”
Erickson envisions his Polaris Pointe — at 2 million square feet — as Colorado Springs’ largest retail center. It’s currently home to Bass Pro Shops, Magnum Shooting Center, C.B. & Potts and Bourbon Brothers Southern Kitchen, among others.
The 20-acre Renaissance Hotel site stands next to the InterQuest Marketplace retail complex, east of I-25 and InterQuest Parkway. It’s home to a 14-screen Regal movie theater complex, a Brunswick Zone XL entertainment center, Cheddar’s Casual Cafe and Colorado Mountain Brewery, among others. A 180-room Drury Inn and Suites is expected to open at the complex this year.
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