proposed layout of new airport hotel

This overall site plan depicts the layout of the Homewood Suites by Hilton and surrounding parking area planned for 100 Airport Road. 

Travelers may not be able to catch international flights from Montrose County Regional Airport, but jet-setters will soon have access to a feature common at many global airports: an on-site hotel.

The Montrose County Board of County Commissioners officially enacted a ground lease agreement with SunCore Hospitality Montrose Airport Hotel, LLC on Aug. 18 to build a branch of Homewood Suites by Hilton. Construction is scheduled to begin before the start of December and should conclude by September 2023.

The hotel will be four stories tall and contain 118 total rooms. According to the overall site plan, amenities include an indoor pool, outdoor fireplace, sport court and rooftop terrace replete with a meeting area and bar.

The 2.62 acre site on Airport Road is adjacent to northbound traffic on Townsend Avenue, just north of Phillips 66 gas station and A&W restaurant.

Montrose County Aviation Director Lloyd Arnold said that the airport — and Montrose — is growing quickly, so the area needs more hotel space to sustain and facilitate growth.

“I think it’s going to be a great asset for Montrose,” Arnold said.

A request for proposals, first issued on Aug. 3, 2020, solicited applications from developers. Prospective applicants had 30 days to write a 15-page application for the site.

Lloyd said that many developers initially expressed interest in the project. Representatives from at least six different developers attended a pre-proposal conference on Aug. 14, 2020, according to an addendum to the request for proposals.

A committee of people appointed by the airport was assigned with selecting a bidder, but they only had one applicant to choose from: despite the initial varied interest, SunCore Hospitality Montrose AIrport Hotel, LLC was the only applicant.

Lloyd speculated that bidders may have lost interest because of the stipulations of the lease.

In the original request, the initial lease term offered was 30 years plus a 10-year extension. But in the course of ironing out the contract, the lease term was extended to 49 years in the ground lease agreement finalized on Aug. 17, 2021.

Although the county owns the land where the hotel will be constructed, the developer will own the building for the duration of the lease. However, when the lease is up in 2070, the ground lease agreement says that the county will assume ownership of the building.

“We’re bound by federal grant obligations on the airport, and that is the limiting factor for the 49-year time period,” Arnold said. Since the hotel will be on leased land, federal grant assurances “limit the timeframe that you can provide a lease for.”

The developer will also pay the county just over $3,300 monthly for the site, which will be adjusted annually to account for fluctuations in the consumer price index.

The ground lease agreement includes a stipulation that the developer could submit an offer to purchase the land, although the county is not obligated to accept such an offer. If both parties come to an agreement, the sale would still be subject to approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Greg Wilhelm-Wenzel, the CEO of SunCore Group, LLC, declined to comment for this article, but a press release dated March 23, 2021 prominently featured on the SunCore website promoted the project as the city’s first “upper-mid scale hotel.”

“With remarkable enthusiasm received at all levels, we are confident that this is an ideal time to bring this asset to this market, especially as the travel and lodging industries are swiftly rebounding from the COVID-19 slowdown especially in Colorado,” the press release said.

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

Anna Lynn Winfrey is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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