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Press Release

Metro State announces team to build and operate $40 million Hotel and Hotel Learning Center

Posted: September 10, 2009

(Denver, Colo.) — Metropolitan State College of Denver has announced the selection of a team to design, develop, build and run the day-to-day operations of a flagged hotel, which will be accompanied by a hotel learning center to train Metro State students in a combined state-of-the-art working laboratory. Both elements are estimated to cost $40 million to build. Funds for the hotel will be raised through a public-private partnership, while donations will be sought for the hotel learning center.

The Hotel and Hotel Learning Center, scheduled to open in 2012, will be located on the Auraria Campus along Speer Boulevard between Auraria Parkway and Larimer Street.

The College has selected a team comprised of eight agencies: Mortenson Construction & Development, Sage Hospitality, RNL, JG Johnson Architects, Studio INSITE, Swerdling & Associates, RBC and HVS. The team was among 10 submittals for the Request for Proposal for the HLC. 

“This project will be one of the first urban hotels of its kind built in the United States,” says Metro State President Stephen Jordan. “I’m very excited about the project and the impact it will have on Metro Denver and for Metro State.”

The project will be a fully functioning hotel with conference facilities and, simultaneously, a state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility for the College’s Hospitality, Tourism and Events (HTE) students and faculty. The learning center will incorporate classrooms, specialty learning labs. The hotel will provide real-world training opportunities for students in the HTE Department and will be a learning lab for both the hotel operator and HTE faculty.

It will feature approximately 180 hotel rooms, 21,000 square feet of conference space and 21,000 square feet of academic space.

“We’re very excited in this department,” says Chad Gruhl, chair of the College’s Hotel Learning Center Task Force and Assistant Professor of Hotel Administration in the Hospitality Tourism and Events program. “This is not only a benefit to our program, but to Metro State as a whole and the entire Auraria Campus.”

According to members of the selected team, the project represents a dynamic addition to Denver’s business community.

“Mortenson is delighted to be an integral part of delivering such a significant facility on the Auraria Campus,” says Bob Hansen, Mortenson vice president and general manager. “The Hotel Learning Center provides us a great opportunity to merge our hospitality, higher education and development expertise to create a facility that will benefit students and visitors for generations to come.”

Doug Spuler, AIA, LEED AP, RNL’s principal on the project says, “The project’s location at Speer and Auraria will create a prominent urban gateway for the Auraria Campus. RNL is thrilled for the opportunity to design this highly sustainable and innovative building for Metro State College of Denver.”

"Sage Hospitality is honored to be selected as the management company,” says Walter Isenberg, president and CEO of Sage Hospitality. “This partnership will positively impact both the Denver Central Business District and Metro State College. We are elated to have this opportunity to cultivate the next generation of hoteliers."

Cathy Lucas, 303-556-5131,
Chad Gruhl, 303-815-8144,
Nancy Kristof, 303-575-8583,
Tiffany Nation, 720-259-4868,
Kelly McCourt, 303-681-1253,


About Metropolitan State College of Denver

Metro State is Colorado’s leader in educating in-state undergraduates and is one of the largest four-year public colleges in the nation. The College enrolls the highest number of students of color among four-year colleges in the state. It boasts 64,400 alumni, with the majority of them remaining in Colorado after graduation. Nearly 1,000 of those students have graduated from the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department. Visit Metro State at

About the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events

Established in 1977, the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events (HTE) at Metro State is the most comprehensive, cost-effective hospitality baccalaureate degree-granting program serving Colorado and any community within a 400-mile radius of Denver. After steady enrollment growth averaging 8.4 percent per year over the last five years, this fall semester’s enrollment of more than 500 declared HTE majors represents a 27.1 percent increase over the fall 2008 semester. For more information about the Hotel and Hotel Learning Center, visit