City of Aurora countersues competing hotels over Gaylord Hotel project

Aurora: Competing hotels 'afraid of competition'

AURORA, Colo. - The City of Aurora filed a counter lawsuit Wednesday against 11 "mostly downtown Denver hotels" stating the opponents'  "frivolous lawsuit" is delaying and financially harming Aurora's Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center project near Denver International Airport.

The Aurora lawsuit, which includes as plaintiffs the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) and Gaylord project developer RIDA Development Corporation, says, "The Competitor Hotels' obvious purpose in filing the frivolous lawsuit was to unlawfully maintain their competitive position by abusing the legal process to delay, impede, and prevent the City and AURA from preceding [sic] with ... the competing hotel and conference center."

Last month, the competing hotels sued the state's economic development office, its economic development commission and Aurora, arguing the commission should overturn the $81.4 million it awarded the 1,500-room Gaylord Hotel project in 2012 under a state law to promote tourism.

"We're in court today protecting our rights to build a project with state-approved funds that will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic benefit, hundreds of thousands of new visitors to the area and thousands of jobs," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. "Delays caused by this baseless legal maneuvering are unfair to the thousands of people who stand to gain jobs and to businesses throughout the state that will benefit from the hundreds of thousands of new visitors this project will attract each year."

"This a small group of mostly downtown Denver hotels that are afraid of competition are sending a message to businesses around the country that Colorado is closed to new business," Hogan said. "They are holding our region's future economic development hostage by conspiring to keep a competitor out of our state."

Aurora's lawsuit, filed in Arapahoe County court, seeks financial damages.

The lawsuit claims the opposing hotels:

--Engaged in an unlawful civil conspiracy.

--Intentionally interfered with a contract.

--Intentionally interfered with business relations.

--Abused the legal process.

"The basis of the complaint is our belief that entrenched business interests in downtown Denver are blatantly abusing the legal system hoping to crush what they perceive to be an outside competitor, at the expense of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefit to the metro area and the state," said Charlie Richardson, City Attorney for Aurora. "This isn't the way we do business in Colorado. We must put an end to these fabricated legal issues and get back to the business of attracting jobs and investment to our state."

"My city is currently suffering from 6.8 percent unemployment. If you don't think a project this size would help the citizens of Aurora, you are sadly mistaken," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said.

The hotels opposing the Gaylord project include the owners of the Curtis, the Broadmoor, the Brown Palace, the JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek, the Courtyard Denver Downtown, the Magnolia, the Oxford and the Westin Westminster hotels.