Aurora eco devo official: Smaller projects on the rise even if former Gaylord hotel in limbo

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The economic development news out of Aurora this year hasn't been great. The high-profile deal to build a 1,500-room hotel hit a big snag when developer Gaylord Entertainment restructured its company. But Yuriy Gorlov of the Aurora Economic Development Council says that while blockbuster deals are welcome, it's smaller-scale projects -- like distributor WinWholesale's plans to build a new facility -- that keep the city humming.

WinWholesale, Inc. is a leading distributor of residential and commercial construction and industrial supplies. It's headquartered in Ohio but has locations in several states, including a leased space in Denver. The company recently announced that it will relocate to a new 242,000-square foot distribution center it's building in Aurora's ProLogis Park 70, bringing thirty jobs with plans to add 22 more.

"It's the daily deals like this that make just as much of an impact as those large-scale projects that come along once in a decade or two," says Gorlov, the AEDC's business development manager. WinWholesale's new facility should be up and running by fall 2013.

This year, Gorlov says, "has been a really good year for the city. We've been able to attract some major operations." Among them: Convincing organic and natural food distributor United Natural Foods, Inc. to stay in the area, consolidating its four separate operations into a new 535,000-square foot regional distribution center in Gateway Park.

Gorlov says Aurora is seeing more development than it has in the past four years, when building slowed due to the economic downturn.

Now, he says, "we see everything going in the right direction."

Everything, that is, except the massive hotel deal. Back in March, Gaylord Entertainment -- then a Tennessee-based company that had four giant hotels/conference centers in Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Maryland -- came to Colorado to make its pitch for why its proposed Aurora hotel should win millions in sales-tax rebates under the states's Regional Tourism Act. In May, the Colorado Economic Development Commission chose the project, granting it an estimated $81.4 million rebate over thirty years.

But on May 31, Gaylord announced it was reorganizing and selling the rights to manage its four hotels to Marriott. As for Aurora, Gaylord said it would "re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase." The commission has given Aurora an extension until January to salvage the deal. But the city is clearly making things happen elsewhere, as well.

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Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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