DENVER-Hensel Phelps and Kiewit are the two finalists to construct the city’s new convention center hotel. The two were chosen by the Convention Center hotel oversight committee.

The city will be selecting a project manager in the next several weeks and will then issue a formal request for proposals, conduct interviews with the two construction firms and then make a selection.

Earlier, the city selected Hyatt Corp. to begin exclusive negotiations to develop a 1,100-room convention center hotel.

The new hotel is estimated to cost more than $150 million to construct–some estimate it could cost more than double that amount—and will be publicly financed by a non-for-profit hotel corporation.

The corporation is scheduled to issue bonds in late March 2003 to finance the hotel. The city plans to break ground on the hotel in the spring of 2003.

In March, citing the lack of progress in a proposed private development of a new hotel, Mayor Wellington E. Webb opted instead for the city to turn to the public tax-exempt bond market to publicly finance the construction of a new convention center hotel.

Webb says development of the hotel is integral to the success of the Convention Center expansion, which voters approved in 1999. The expansion will more than double the size of the current 1-million-sf convention center to 2.4 million sf.

In April, the city and Denver Convention and Visitor’s Bureau officially broke ground on the new Convention Center.

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