DIA hotel and transit center exceeds projected costs by $220 million

Denver’s new airport hotel and transit center has cost millions more than expected.

Denver’s auditor office announced Thursday that an independent accounting service, BKD (Baird, Kurtz & Dobson), estimated the total cost of DIA’s new hotel and transit center at nearly $720 million.

When the hotel first broke ground in 2012, its cost was projected at $500 million.

In a press release, Denver auditor Timothy O’Brien said that there is reason to trust the new figure. “BKD applied ‘agreed-upon standard auditing practice to determine the actual cost of a project,” he said.

Denver’s Audit Committee discussed the report in a meeting Thursday morning. O’Brien said unforeseen complexities are to blame for the $220 million overshoot. “It’s a complex project,” O’Brien told The Independent. “It’s more than a hotel. There’s a plaza that goes with it, the transportation center. Why they’re beyond the estimate is more of an engineering question.”

When asked if the unexpected results of BKD’s analysis would affect the city’s approach to new projects, like the redevelopment of the National Western Complex, O’Brien said that his office would “take a more active role” to ensure that things stay on track.

Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration has doubled down on plans to redevelop the National Western Complex into a national tourist hub as part of Hancock’s “Corridor of Opportunity” project. In January, his administration unveiled the Office for Redevelopment of National Western Center, which is headed by Kelly Leid.

According to the new office’s website, its job is “realizing the bold vision of a must-see tourism destination and regional asset, transforming the Denver Coliseum and National Western Complex area to become a creative year-round activity campus.”

Reacting to the unexpected cost of the hotel and transit center, O’Brien says that it’s a done deal. “The important thing going forward is to get as much return as we possibly can,” O’Brien said. “We made an investment.”

Photo via WestinDenverAirport.com