Possible timeline for transformation of Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs as development group eyes | Content reserved for subscribers
A Denver-area development group says it expects to know within 30 days whether it will pursue its proposal to turn the historic Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs into apartments.
Although the 273-room Antlers remains a prominent downtown property, its promenade area on the east side of the hotel near Cascade and Pikes Peak avenues, as well as Antlers Park to the west of the building, need improvements to make it a dynamic part of the core business. district, said Nate Taylor, who describes himself as a veteran of the construction and development industries.
Taylor, of Castle Rock, and his partner Joseph Libkey Jr., who runs Blueprint Investment Group in Thornton, have formed BP Antlers OZ, a limited liability company that submitted a proposal to city government planners last week that considers to transform The Antlers into 166 apartments.
The revamped hotel, at 4 S. Cascade Ave., would include indoor and outdoor pools, an exercise facility, restaurants, a cafe and co-working spaces, among other amenities, according to Taylor and Libkey’s proposal.
The Antlers building itself is in good condition, Taylor said this week. But the promenade area in front of the hotel is underused and could house farmers’ markets and other events that would draw more visitors downtown, he said.
At the same time, the hotel needs a better connection to Antlers Park on its western side to make the park a more attractive amenity, Taylor said.
“The hotel is fine the way it is; it produces for Colorado Springs,” Taylor said. “It’s just not exciting for people to come and hang out.
“The downtown is growing,” he added. “People want to be downtown, they want to go to restaurants, they want a bit more nightlife. We’re showing that with the number of restaurants that are starting to come downtown. … There’s a huge potential with what The Antlers has to be able to be a cool, new vibe place that’s going to draw people downtown.”
The proposal to transform The Antlers comes at a time when thousands of apartments have opened, are under construction or in various stages of planning in downtown Colorado Springs by local, regional and national developers.
Taylor said he and Libkey will consider many factors over the next few weeks to determine whether their apartment concept might work or if The Antlers would be best left as a hotel. Among them: the direction of interest rates, acquisition costs, debt issues, bond markets and the state of apartment and hotel markets, he said.
At the end of their 30-day schedule, Taylor said he and Libkey plan to discuss their concept for The Antlers with current owners Perry Sanders Jr., a Colorado Springs lawyer and businessman, and John Goede, also a lawyer. Sanders and Goede have owned The Antlers since buying them for $21.7 million in 2015.
Taylor said he and Libkey did not have a purchase agreement with The Antlers.
Sanders, meanwhile, said he and Goede had only given Taylor and Libkey the go-ahead to submit their apartment proposal to city planners for consideration, and are unsure whether they are even interested in selling the hotel yet. – or what else the future might hold for the historic good.
Sanders said he and Goede may want to keep The Antlers as a full-service hotel, whose 27,500 square feet of meeting space is the largest in downtown and a key venue that hosts luncheons, business conferences and other events. But Sanders said he and Goede were also interested in a concept of turning the upper floors of The Antlers into condo units for sale while retaining hotel rooms on the lower floors.
The Antlers is a well-known part of Colorado Springs history. It was built by the city’s founder, General William Jackson Palmer, in 1883. The hotel was destroyed by fire 15 years after it opened, rebuilt, demolished, and rebuilt again in the 1960s.
The Antlers is the only full-service hotel downtown and part of the Wyndham family of hotels and resorts.
A look at the developers
Taylor and Sanders have done business in the past.
Blue Spruce Constructors, a company run by Taylor and her father, Richard, served as general contractor in 2011 and 2012 when Sanders purchased the Mining Exchange office building at 8 S. Nevada Ave. and turned it into a boutique hotel, Pikes Peak Regional Building Department records show.
Taylor also said he has been involved in residential, apartment and commercial development in Colorado Springs and other parts of the Front Range for the past 25 years.
Libkey is described in online publications as a residential and commercial general contractor, real estate investor, and property developer who has been involved in projects for schools, hospitals, single-family homes, and apartments, among others.
He could not be reached for comment, and Taylor said this week that Libkey was out of the country.
One of Libkey’s development entities, Blueprint Investment Fund, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 30 due to issues with a 47-unit townhouse project in Evergreen, according to documents filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Denver.
Blueprint Investment Fund, in which Libkey is listed as owner, chairman and chief executive, sought to develop the project, according to court filings.
But disputes with third parties related to easement and access rights to the Evergreen property — which have since been resolved — “created a significant delay” in the development of the townhouse project, according to filings.
As a result, Blueprint Investment Fund filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors, according to court filings.
In its bankruptcy filing, Blueprint listed total liabilities of just over $1.8 million and assets of $4.9 million – although those assets represented the estimated value of the home site in undeveloped row. Blueprint also had $146.21 in a business checking account.
A subsequent monthly operating report filed by Blueprint Investment Fund showed it only had $400 in cash at the start of July.
But Blueprint, which retained control of the townhouse site in Evergreen, has since received additional funding.
He secured a $7.5 million loan from a California company — later reduced to $5 million — of which $2.5 million was used to pay off three secured creditors in full, court records show. These payments totaled more than $1.9 million.
Another portion of the loan went to the Blueprint Investment Fund, which increased its cash at the end of July to $571,789, records show.
Blueprint plans to use proceeds from the additional loan to complete the townhouse project, according to court records.
Bankruptcy records also show Blueprint still owes money to three unsecured creditors, including $66,000 to RMG-Rocky Mountain Group, which has offices in Colorado Springs, Monument, Englewood and Windsor.
Nate Dowden, CEO of RMG-Rocky Mountain Group, said his company provided land planning, architectural and civil engineering services for the Blueprint townhouse project in Evergreen.
His company last communicated in May with Libkey, who “repeatedly” assured RMG-Rocky Mountain Group that he would be paid in full, Dowden said.
“But we haven’t seen any funds coming in,” he said.
Sanders said this week that he was unaware of the bankruptcy filing of the Libkey-controlled Blueprint Investment Fund.
Bankruptcy would have no bearing on the hotel’s future — should a deal ever come to pass, Sanders said. Bankruptcy protection is a tool used by many business people, corporations and others for a variety of reasons, he said.
“If there’s no theft or fraud involved…I wouldn’t let that affect my decision one way or another,” Sanders said. “I’ve just known too many people that I’ve known and loved and then seen come back from bankruptcy and be wildly, not kind of wildly, I mean wildly, wildly successful. I think that’s the wrong gauge of whether or not someone should sell them something or not.”