Downtown hotel strikes financing deal

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After months of delays, The Mining Exchange Hotel in Colorado Springs this week inked a deal for $11.2 million in financing that will allow the project to move forward.

The deal, arranged by Terrix Financing in Denver, follows closely on the heels of a franchise agreement with Wyndham Hotel’s Grand line that gives the Mining Exchange Hotel entrée into an exclusive club.

The hotel’s opening was delayed until its co-owners could arrange financing. Although they received multiple offers, none were deemed suitable for one reason or another including interest rates that were too high.

In the end, “we obtained financing through a consortium of credit unions,” said Dave O’Brien, principal with Terrix Financial.

In 2009, when the project was announced, its owners said the hotel’s development was expected to cost between $16 million and $18 million. Construction began but slowed earlier this year as the developers worked to sort through permit issues.

The Wyndham deal with that chain’s Grand brand was another bit of good news for the developers.

Wyndham has just 27 hotels in its Grand collection worldwide. The Mining Exchange Hotel will join locales in cities such as Shanghai; Budapest; St. Petersburg, Russia; Cancun, Mexico, New Orleans and Minneapolis.

Wyndham spokeswoman Evy Apostolatos said the chain seeks out unique properties with distinctive characteristics.

Its representatives made several visits to Colorado Springs before signing the deal with the hotel.

“Wyndham is an excellent upscale (brand). They wouldn’t have let this property in if it didn’t meet their qualifications,” said Joseph McInerney, CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “I think it’s a good match for both.”

The Mining Exchange was constructed from several combined and refurbished early 20th century buildings. When it opens in the spring, it will have 119 guest rooms, including 14 suites. Amenities will include customized furnishings including wine chillers and flat-screen HD TVs. The hotel also will offer more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, catering, a business center, fitness center and spa.

It also will feature an art gallery and three restaurants: X-300, which will offer 100 beers and 100 wines by the glass to pair with 100 “tapatizers,” tapas served as appetizers; Springs Orleans, a patio café; and Il Postino, an Italian fusion restaurant, which opened a couple of weeks ago.

Although big hotel chains tend to offer pretty much the same benefits to franchisees, such as an internationally recognized brand name and a centralized reservation system, Wyndham brought something else to the table.

Hotel co-owner Perry Sanders said he and his partner, Raphael Sassower, will be able to take advantage of Wyndham’s marketing and operational training resources.

Also, the Mining Exchange Hotel won’t need to contract booking representatives in other cities, as many independent hoteliers do, in order to attract reservations from more out-of-towners.

Given the sluggish tourism trade, it was an opportunity that Sanders and Sassower couldn’t afford to pass up.

“Unless you have a real special independent brand like The Broadmoor, the marketplace has proven that strong brand name and recognition will increase with a franchise,” McInerney said.

“When people (go online and) see the Wyndham brand, it will give (the Mining Exchange Hotel) more prestige.”

The owners are counting on it.

“Of all the hotel chains that courted us, Wyndham seemed to best understand and appreciate the concept behind this project,” Sanders said. “We feel like we got the best of both worlds. We remain true to our unique character, and at the same time have the Grand flag, which adds extreme value to the project.”