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Larimer eyes plan for expanded hotel, water park at The Ranch

LOVELAND – A Windsor-based developer who originally wanted to build a four-star hotel and water-park complex near the Northern Colorado Regional Airport now is offering to build an even larger project if Larimer County approves including it in the redevelopment plans for the county-owned Ranch complex.

Martin Lind, who heads Windsor-based Water Valley Co., presented his new vision to Larimer County commissioners at a study session this week as they considered a master plan for The Ranch.

Lind had asked the Loveland City Council in July to help him pay for the $244.6 million Rocky Mountain Grand Resort and Conference Center at its originally planned location on Byrd Drive by contributing 100% of the sales, property and lodging tax the resort generates in its first 30 years, as well as waiving construction fees and paying for improvements to the roadways that surround the property. 

At that meeting, some council members — while noting that the proposed 85,000-square-foot water park with a retractable roof, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, 400 rooms that would rent for an average of $312 per night, eateries including the rooftop Top of the Rock restaurant, and areas for family entertainment could be a major economic driver for the region — asked Lind about the feasibility of moving the project closer to The Ranch complex.

Lind took the suggestion to heart, and at Monday’s Board of County Commissioners work session, he presented an even grander proposal for the Rocky Mountain Grand. “Our project has grown since we moved it from the west side of the interstate,” he told commissioners.

His new concept would increase the number of deluxe rooms in the four-star hotel to 560 and add another 160 standard rooms in a more affordable adjacent three-star hotel.

“We didn’t really need” the three-star hotel, Lind said, “but the hotel vacancy and the void that’s needed out at The Ranch is so bad right now that to not explore that opportunity would have done this master plan a huge injustice.”

He described “a magnificent center court for pre- and post-game, or pre- and post-concert” attendees at a renovated Budweiser Event Center.

“It’s something that we’re really missing right now,” he said. “If you’ve been to any event at the Bud Center, when you leave, you enter a dark parking lot and you go home.” The center court would feature “all kinds of programming” before and after those events.

The new plan would include a 70,000-square-foot exposition and conference center — double the original plan, a 40,000-square-foot outdoor recreation area with a reflecting pool, a 10,000-square-foot family entertainment center, several restaurants including a 5,000-square-foot rooftop eatery.

The 85,000-square-foot indoor water park, which Lind described as “the magnet for the main hotel,” would have 11 or more major slides, cabanas, a party room, food court, arcade and gift shop. Lind said the water park would “use less water than a full-tunnel car wash” and will be completely recycled.

The master plan for The Ranch calls for the county-owned Budweiser Center to be “repurposed” and a new arena to be built that would seat 8,000 people for hockey or 9,000 for concerts, both including suites, and have a youth hockey training center with multiple ice sheets.

The project could “bring to life a very dynamic area for Northern Colorado,” Lind said. “Kids could be in a hockey tournament and two hours later be in a water park.”

He noted that Loveland had commissioned an independent market study and estimated that the hotel and water park at its original location could pump $1.5 billion into the area’s economy over 10 years. However, Lind estimated that the expanded plan if the complex were built at The Ranch could lift that figure to $2 billion. He said it would generate “more than 1,000 jobs, including youth jobs such as lifeguards.”

The next steps for the project include continued discussions with Water Valley and the cities of Loveland and Windsor about off-site storm drainage and continued talks with Loveland about Planned Urban Development amendment processes.

“There needs to be a lot of collaboration about zoning, infrastructure and traffic studies,” Lind said. “But my companies will continue to stay at the table. What we got from the commissioners on Monday is simply that we’re on the right track, that this is a project they want to support.

“Once we’ve done all that, we’ll re-engage with Loveland about the incentives,” Lind said. “This won’t work without the incentives, and Loveland knows that. I feel really confident that we’ll find common ground with Loveland.”

Source: BizWest