National Western redevelopment starts at $765 million, and a Legacy Building is the next big reveal

Officials hope they’ll be able to bring additional dollars to the project during the next seven years.

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Mayor Michael Hancock takes a sledge hammer to the old International Paper building. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; national western center; development; elyria swansea; construction;

Mayor Michael Hancock takes a sledgehammer to the old International Paper building. Groundbreaking for the National Western Center in Elyria Swansea, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Western Stock Show Association is ready to unveil plans next week for the Legacy Building it’s adding as part of the National Western Center redevelopment project.

The 100,000-square-foot building will feature seating room for up to 700 people and space to store and display National Western art, archives and history, according to the association. More details are expected to be released Tuesday.

“This is going to be a watering hole, a gallery space, and a place to do business for friends, cowboys and art lovers alike,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the association, in a statement.

Construction kicked off for the National Western Center project in early November, paving the way for workers to really get moving at the campus. The Western Stock Show Association and its partners, the city and county of Denver and Colorado State University, are starting with a $765 million budget for the redevelopment. CSU and the association will likely kick in more money for their individual projects, pushing the overall cost of redevelopment closer to $1 billion, according to the city.

Most of the infrastructure and construction work for the first two phases of the project should wrap up by the end of 2023 with some work carrying over to 2024, according to the city’s baseline report.

The budget for the project is a “starting point,” said Gretchen Hollrah, executive director of the Office of the National Western Center. The final amount pledged will change as the schedule and the scope of the project are adjusted.

The budget shared by the city does not include money the project partners could bring in from selling sponsorships and naming rights, Hollrah said.

The partners are tasked with transforming the National Western Complex and Denver Coliseum from the home of a roughly two-week agriculture event complete with professional rodeos, a horse show and a western trade show to a year-round destination and global hub for agriculture and innovation.

The budget released this fall includes state dollars, city funds, money from CSU and the stock show association. The new financial numbers, as Denver Business Journal noted, shave off $100 million from previous estimates and closes a previous $200 million funding gap for the project.

“The most important thing about a baseline is it provides accountability for everything that happens from this point forward and how we as partners deliver this program,” Hollrah said Thursday at the last meeting of the NWC Executive Oversight Committee. Going forward, a newly created authority will oversee project implementation.

“You will not see us finish with the baseline we started with. We want to bring additional funding partners and additional content to this program over the next number of years,” she said.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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