ESTES PARK – The ‘launch’ of the Stanley Film Center project was accepted by the State Economic Development Commission at its meeting last week.
The commission’s designation means the project can move forward under an $ 86 million tax increase funding program with the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade.
It is also the last remaining effort by Larimer County groups to develop projects with this OEDIT effort to attract travel and tourism to the area.
Local efforts date back to 2015. A Windsor resort proposed by area developer Martin Lind was pulled early in the process. Two water-related attractions, a water park and a whitewater adventure facility, considered for Loveland were first combined and scrapped in September when the city ruled that a November start deadline could not. not be reached.
The city said it was discussing the project with Lind, but that it would not be part of OEDIT’s work.
Getting started under the Tourism Tax Benefit Program means that the film center has made enough progress to be able to remain in the OEDIT program and receive funding under the program for the project.
The deadline was set around the same time last year, but the projects received an extension after members of the Northern Colorado Regional Tourism Authority requested another year, saying the pandemic had prevented the completion of project plans.
The Stanley Film Center is a tribute to horror films.
It is designed as an 80,000 square foot museum and interactive cinema center to include “tours, event space and an educational college specializing in the horror film genre,” John Cullen told BizWest in January.
Cullen is president of Grand Heritage Management LLC, an ownership group that also manages the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, and has been involved with hotels and resorts in Telluride, as well as Oregon and other countries. , including Mexico, Qatar, Egypt, Italy and the UK, its website said.
Grand Heritage has invested approximately $ 31 million in The Stanley Hotel, adding or planning event, wellness and arts spaces, as well as residences and long-term housing, and workforce housing, all based around the Stanley.
The Stanley Film Center opened a Post Chicken & Beer site this year, which is part of the Boulder-based Big Red F restaurant group. The renovated space under the restaurant for Stanley Aiden Sinclair’s resident magician is also part of Phase 1.
The work supported by OEDIT is the second phase of the film center. It includes around $ 12 million in state support, the Grand Heritage website said. The center draws inspiration from the haunted history of Stanley, including his role in the novel and subsequent 1980 film “The Shining”, and into the imaginations of horror movie fans and fans alike. average tourists since.
The project is located at the eastern end of the Stanley property, adjacent to the car drop-off and the concert hall. Cullen has said he expects it to be a global draw and build business in the intervening seasons.
The hurdle of starting OEDIT involved construction progress, government approvals and works that cannot be easily canceled, as well as funding guarantees on a project whose costs have steadily increased. .
Cullen had explored a bond for this purpose but ended up securing a $ 3 million bridging loan, according to discussions at the meeting.
In January, Cullen pegged the theater centre’s investment at $ 40 million, from $ 25 million.
“It started off as a $ 4 million project, then grew to $ 8 million, but it’s not unusual for me, which increases the scope.”
At the EDC meeting last week, Cullen said the total will be around $ 60 million, with $ 15 million already on the books to date.
He joked that the commissioners “sucked me (to) take all the money from our other hotels and put it in Estes Park”.
Commission President Carrie Schiff replied jovially: “I don’t know who screwed up who.
“My bankers keep asking me, ‘Are you sure? This land is so precious… ‘”replied Cullen. “But a deal is a deal and I’m committed to it.”
Cullen also agreed to make changes to his proposal that state staff had requested; these were not discussed publicly at the meeting.
Schiff said, “Let’s have a historic vote.
The approval was unanimous at 8-0, with one commissioner absent and one challenged.
NCRTA chairman John Fogle, also a Loveland city councilor, praised Cullen for the approval.
“We are looking forward to the grand opening, as soon as possible,” he said.
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