Woodland Station to fill hotel, meeting space void

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Sturman Industries plans to build a 250-room hotel and 25,000-square-foot conference room

Sturman Industries plans to build a 250-room hotel and 25,000-square-foot conference room

The Woodland Park of the future could look considerably different, as Sturman Industries’ model for city-building seems to be catching fire.

Earlier this year the Business Journal profiled Sturman Industries’ invitation for like-minded companies to relocate to Sturman’s 400-acre campus in the mountains around Woodland Park. The industrial applications firm hired a team of developers, architects, contractors and brokers to design and market office spaces in an attempt to attract high-paying, high-tech jobs to the region.

Of course, it’s not just the region that would benefit — companies taking the Woodland Park plunge would be buying into the culture of dogs and flip-flops at work, trail running and dirt biking at lunch, and all of the perks associated with working at a world-class facility in a natural park environment.

The idea was to market the vision, not just the land, to potential buyers.

“I can’t sell a three-acre parcel of (raw) land in Woodland Park to someone in the Silicon Valley,” said Tim Hall, the Grubb & Ellis developer working with Sturman on the project. “But we have the prototypes of the buildings we can sell in addition to the ground, and we can tailor the building to the company’s needs.”

Now Hall is taking that concept across the street from the Sturman business campus to a 168-room hotel, called the Woodland Station.

The Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority owns a 10-acre lot in the center of downtown. They’ve brought on some of the same players, including Hall and architect Gary Larson, and now the Denver-based Beck Group to design and market the hotel and its 25,000-square-foot conference room that could become the linchpin of the city’s downtown.

“Once again we were in a position where we couldn’t just call a Hilton franchisee and say, ‘Hey, we have 10-acres out here, do you want to build something on it?’” Hall said. “We didn’t want to just sell the ground. We took a look at (The Downtown Development’s) wish list and right at the top was this hotel and conference center, so we decided that’s the project we needed to put out there.”

In addition to the rooms and conference center, The Woodland Station will have a banquet room, a spa, restaurants and covered parking.

To match the city’s look and feel, the hotel will be built with mountain materials like corrugated barn wood, and the elevator shafts will be modeled after the city’s mining tradition. The two towers will be separated by glass so as not to obstruct the mountain views.

The project will nearly double the number of available rooms in Woodland Park. There are only 96 in the city proper, so why is this a good idea?

“With the occupancy rates as they are, the city could use another 250 to 300 rooms and stay full through the summer,” Hall said. “But how do we bridge that through the winter? As it is now, there’s not a big enough place up there for the high school to have its prom. This will be a place where companies can hold corporate strategic planning sessions, or home and garden shows. Companies won’t need to go hours outside of town. It’s a 20 minute drive for a retreat that feels like it’s well outside of the Springs.”

The city is also hoping the hotel will drive retail development in the city, and Hall said the foundation for growth is there.

“It’s not like we’re trying to create a market — the market is there. We’re just putting a product on it,” he said. “We’re not trying to compete with what Colorado Springs offers. This is just a viable alternative. It’s a different experience when you’re coming up that hill.”

Jonathan Easley can be reached at jonathan.easley@csbj.com or 719-329-5235. Friend him on Facebook, find him on Twitter, and follow his blog at www.csbj.com/realestate/