DENVER-A father-son development team for a $217 million,1,100-room hotel near the Colorado Convention Center says it will meet Friday’s city-imposed deadline to sign a hotelier for the project.

Talks broke down a month ago with Marriott, prompting Bruce and Seth Berger to open negotiations with Sheraton, Hyatt Regency, Loews and Hilton. Several people familiar with the deal told that Marriott, for an undisclosed reason, definitely is out of the running–although Bruce Berger says no one is being excluded at this time. It has been speculated that Marriott refuses to guarantee the hiring of union employees, something the city wants. Berger basically is being very hushed about the ongoing talks to land a hotelier by Friday, a deadline he is confident of meeting.

Marriott spokesman Roger Connor says he doesn’t think his company is out of the running. He says the Bergers fully understand Marriott’s proposal and he expects them to make a decision shortly.

Hilton senior vice president Marc Grossman says Hilton probably won’t fly its flag over the hotel, although it would dearly love to. “My understanding is that the Berger organization didn’t like our deal,” Grossman told

The Bergers own a full city block and are in line for a referendum-approved tax subsidy, totaling about $53.4 million, approved last November when the Denver Urban Renewal Authority took its tax hike proposal to voters.

The Sept. 15 deadline has been imposed by Mayor Wellington Webb, who was unhappy the deal wasn’t moving forward. Webb’s spokesman, Andrew Hudson, says the city will seek other alternatives if the Bergers don’t meet the deadline. That option may be a viable solution since there are no environmental problems hanging over the site or historical structures that may restrict development, says John Montgomery, president of Horwath Hospitality Consulting/Montgomery & Associates.

“A convention center hotel doesn’t have to be right across from the convention center,” says Montgomery. “When it’s all said and done, only about 50% of the guests will come from conventions. If you look at cities across the country, there are numerous examples of convention center hotels that are blocks from the convention center, so that would not put us at a competitive disadvantage.

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