PUEBLO – A bigger and better Pueblo Convention Center is on track to open in about six months. The $32 million construction project is being financed in part through the Governor’s Regional Tourism Act grant program.
Construction crews gave our cameras an inside look Friday afternoon as the building is being built.
“We’re excited. We’re on time and on budget,” said Jerry Pacheco, Executive Director of the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority.
The project is made up of three parts including a new 50,000 square foot exhibit hall, a new Bull Rider University, which is like a strength training and conditioning center for PBR riders, and a new parking garage across the street.
“Everybody is coming together, they’re a great team to work with and to see the progress at this rate it’s really impressive,” said project manager Tony Acri.
Pacheco explained that the extra room will give Pueblo greater flexibility in attracting new convention business.
“We now have the ability to have a trade show and you can also have two conventions at one time,” he said.
But something is noticeably missing amid all this new tourism infrastructure; new hotels. Minor League Baseball team owner and hotelier Jeff Katofsky had planned invest $50 million building three new hotels in this area. The deal died last month when it was announced that a property promised to Katofsky as part of negotiations would instead be put out to bid.
Pacheco expects the City Council to vote to put that parcel, the old police annex, up for bid soon as a location for a hotel development.
“You’re going to see a hotel coming out of the ground, you’re going see additional improvements on the Riverwalk.
There’s discussion about extending the riverwalk further to Santa Fe Avenue, and there’s talk of moving the transit center which will facilitate additional development on the Riverwalk,” Pacheco said.
“All of those discussions are because of this construction project.”
Acri said his crews are engaged in a 6-month sprint to the end.
“We’re working on interiors, finishing up ductwork, electric plumbing,” Acris said. “Everybody pulled together with the best interest of the community in mind and we’re excited to launch this facility and grow the City.”
Pacheco hopes to be able to get a certificate of occupancy for the new building in January. It may take another two months to get final furnishings and other equipment moved into the new building ahead of a grand opening in March.