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Denver City Council greenlights city raising up to $115M to buy Denver Post building, former Embassy Suites hotel

The Denver City Council on Monday approved two bills that will allow the city to raise up to $115 million to buy a downtown office building formerly occupied by The Denver Post and a hotel in the southeastern part of the city that is now being used as a homeless shelter.

The council previously signed off on the acquisitions of what is commonly referred to as The Denver Post building at 101 W. Colfax Ave. and an Embassy Suites hotel property at 7525 E. Hampden Ave. In the case of the former, Denver is planning to covert the 306,000-square-foot high-rise into courtrooms and other judicially focused spaces to meet the projected long-term space needs for county courts starting in 2030.

Monday’s votes secured the funding for those high-dollar purchases by authorizing the issuance of up to $115 million in certificates of participation — $90 million for The Denver Post building and $25 million for the hotel, respectively.

Those totals exceed the estimated purchase price of each building. City real estate officials have previously projected that 101 W. Colfax will cost the city $88.5 million. The price of the Embassy Suites, meanwhile, has been tabbed at $21 million. The city has been renting the 205-room hotel at an estimated cost of $825,000 per month. It has been used as a homeless shelter for families since late December.

Certificates of participation differ from using bonds to fund city efforts. They use collateral — in this case, the buildings themselves — and don’t require voter approval.

Four council members voted against The Denver Post building purchase financing Monday — Flor Alvidrez, Shontel Lewis, Sarah Parady and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez.  

Lewis has previously highlighted potentially cheaper, distressed buildings she argued were a better deal in the Central Business District area. She has also argued that more courts space is not a pressing need at a time when the city is cutting budgets and projecting a $120 million shortfall this year due to the migrant crisis.

“I just think this is such a terrible use of tax dollars and it’s not a comprehensive strategy (for) revitalizing downtown,” she said Monday.

The Denver Post has never owned the building at 101 W. Colfax Ave., though its parent company DP Media Network LLC holds a master lease on all 11 floors there. The paper moved newsroom operations out in 2018.

The city of Denver is now the largest tenant with an agreement in place to pay $44 million in rent to DP Media through 2029. Once the city acquires the building, finance officials project it will collect $47 million in rent from DP Media over that same period.

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