City Preps $274M Revenue Bond Issuance to Create Jobs, Boost Economy
Published on February 16, 2021
Administration announces formal halt to P3 procurement process for National Western Center
The City and County of Denver will pursue issuance of the $274 million in voter-approved revenue bonds to support construction of the National Western Center campus and the Colorado Convention Center Expansion projects. The investment in the two programs is expected to have an estimated $10 billion economic impact on the regional economy and will support nearly 7,200 jobs over the next three years.
“As we transition from rescue to recovery, it is critical that we maintain strong investments in public infrastructure and projects approved by Denver voters. These investments create good-paying jobs and economic opportunities for thousands of residents and businesses that have been burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “As we learned and know well from the Great Recession, construction and infrastructure investment is a sure way to recharge our local economy, and a major way to ensure equitable opportunity.”
The Department of Finance, in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center, will advance a request to City Council to authorize the third issuance of revenue bonds approved by voters nearly six years ago, and is scheduled to appear before the Finance and Governance Committee on Feb. 23.
After experiencing historic impacts from COVID-19, the city’s tourism revenues are expected to begin rebounding later this year as more people are vaccinated. Issuing the remaining bond funds this spring will take advantage of favorable market conditions, minimize market and financial risks, and ultimately lock in a low, fixed cost of funds for the programs.
The proposal to issue 2C revenue bonds is the next action the Hancock Administration is taking to rebuild the local economy. In October 2020, the city moved forward a plan to inject $170 million into the local economy to create jobs and stimulate economic activity in Denver and the region with the largest issuance of the Elevate Denver general obligation bonds for city-led projects to date, with nearly 75 percent directed toward construction and construction-related activities citywide. Already, Elevate Denver has yielded jobs for Denver’s workforce as well as opportunities for local businesses. In 2019 alone, more than 4,900 workers from traditionally under resourced communities participated on Elevate Denver projects through the Denver Construction Career Pilot and, to date, more than $93 million has been committed to minority and women-owned businesses.
The city and partners remain committed to completion of the full vision of the campus as outlined in the Master Plan. The city has also formally halted the process to identify a private partner to design, build, finance, operate and maintain future phases 3-8 of the National Western Center campus, also known as the Triangle. Construction of phases 1 and 2 will continue to move forward as the city works with the National Western Center partners to prioritize the remaining campus assets.
In 2015, Denver voters overwhelmingly passed measure 2C, which authorized city funding for construction of phases 1 & 2 of the National Western Center campus and for upgrades and expansion of the Colorado Convention Center. Through the 2C measure, Denver voters approved the issuance of bonds or other obligations in an amount not to exceed $778 million, and an indefinite extension of a 1.75 percent tourism tax on hotel rooms and rental cars that was originally due to sunset in 2023. The revenues from these taxes, combined with other portions of the City’s lodgers, short term auto rental, and food and beverage taxes, are being leveraged to provide funding for the two projects. The upcoming measure 2C revenue bond issuance will include $98 million for the Colorado Convention Center Expansion project and $175.8 million for continued construction of the National Western Center campus.
About the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center
The National Western Center is a year-round, global destination for ag and food innovation, western heritage and culture — now under construction in north Denver. Its mission is to convene the world to lead, inspire, create, educate and entertain in pursuit of global food solutions. The City and County of Denver is the primary land and facility owner; the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center is responsible for phases one and two of construction. Learn more at nationalwesterncenter.com.
About the Colorado Convention Center Project
The expansion of the Colorado Convention Center includes a new 80,000 square foot multipurpose room and outdoor rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city skyline and mountains. On the ground floor, there will be lobby renovations. The improvements will serve the needs of modern-day convention-goers and differentiate the facility from others, ensuring it remains an attractive and global competitor. When complete, the expansion will allow for an estimated 25 additional events per year, generating an additional $85 million in annual economic impact.