Telluride Ajax Investment Partners announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with a construction lender that clears the way for construction to commence on the Hotel Ajax project this fall.
Groundbreaking on the $60-65 million development on the empty lot at the corner of East Colorado Avenue and Willow Street is expected in the next 45 to 60 days, according to lead developer Randy Edwards. Preliminary work on the foundation will start next week.
This project includes a 50-room luxury hotel with a chef-inspired restaurant, spa and fitness facility, rooftop bar, swimming pool and plaza area overlooking the river and Town Park.
Eleven luxury condominiums situated on the upper two floors will complement the hotel lodging below, according to a news release from the development team.
Edwards said the idea for the project was conceived about two years ago. Though the approval process was “arduous at times,” he said that residents and officials of Telluride should be pleased with the finished product.
“From the residents’ standpoint, we had very little opposition, because we’re on that last block of the commercial core,” he said. “It’s going to change the east end, giving the businesses down there an anchor, and I think it’s really going to bring some balance to main street.
“We’re really excited about it. It took us a little more than two years to get to this point,” Edwards added.
He estimated a construction phase of 21 to 24 months. Though the winter season can be hard on large-scale construction projects, he said the fall construction start was deliberately planned because of the relatively low water table in the months prior to winter.
Hall Structured Finance, a Dallas-based lender that specializes in construction loans for hotel properties throughout the U.S., has been engaged for the financing.
“We are very pleased to be working with this development team on such an exciting legacy development like Hotel Ajax in Telluride,” said Mike Jaynes, president of Hall Structured Finance, a subsidiary of Hall Financial Group, a real estate development and investment firm.
The project site at 300 East Colorado Ave. is formerly known as the Willow Post Office parking lot. It was purchased for development purposes in 2014.
BOKA Powell Architecture developed a streetscape that appears to be five separate buildings on Colorado Avenue, though it actually is a single structure. Flick Mars, a national hotel design firm, is planning the interiors.
The hotel will be operated under a license agreement from Starwood Hotels and Resorts and branded as a Luxury Collection Hotel. It will be managed by Harrell Hospitality Group, a Starwood and Marriott approved management company. Harrell Hospitality also is headquartered in Dallas.
Earlier this year, Starwood and Marriott announced they would be merging by the end of 2016, creating the largest hotel company in the world with more than 60 million frequent-stay members.
“We are excited to be a part of the Hotel Ajax development and management team, and to see the impact of this iconic international hotel in Telluride,” said Harrell Hospitality CEO Paul Barham. “With the combined marketing strength and prominence of the Starwood and Marriott systems, we should see a significant benefit to the market occupancies in Telluride.”
The news release said the 11 luxury residences on top of the hotel would be “blessed with epic scenic and solar qualities, in addition to the access to the amenities and services offered by the hotel.”
Unit demand has been strong, the development team said, with seven of the 11 homes already under reservation contracts. The homes, primarily one-level flats, will range in size from 1,700 to 4,000 square feet, with two to four bedrooms and “bonus flex rooms.” Prices range from $1.99 million to $6.99 million.
“Befitting the five-star qualities of the hotel, the sophisticated mountain modern designs will showcase some of the most elegant finish qualities in the Telluride market,” the release concluded.