Denver Mayor Michael Hancock created a new office Tuesday to launch the National Western Center Project. At the same time, his administration is preparing to issue bonds that will raise

$200 million for the first stage.

The mayor appointed Kelly Leid, the executive director of the city's North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative office for nearly three years, to head the new Office of the National Western Center.

He has spearheaded the $856 million project through several milestones, including winning city voters' approval in November for tourist tax extensions that will pay for the largest portion.

State-paid components for Colorado State University's involvement will push the project's cost above $1.1 billion.

The decade-long project will remake 270 acres into a year-round tourism, event, education and agricultural innovation center. Initial costs include purchasing many properties to expand the current stock show campus.

"The creation of the office ensures that we are being deliberate about our approach and responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars to deliver a vision we can all be proud of," Hancock said in a news release.


Leid's previous jobs include a key role in the financing and construction of the Denver Broncos' Sports Authority Field.

His $150,615 salary won't change. A city spokeswoman says the new office's staffing and budget haven't been set.

Hancock plans to hire a new director for the Cornerstone Collaborative, which also coordinates the city's role in five other initiatives in north Denver.

On Tuesday, a City Council committee advanced a proposal authorizing a 30-year bond issue for up to $425 million. It would include $200 million for refinancing of old bonds, plus new bonds providing $200 million for the National Western project and $6 million for prep work on an upgrade and expansion of the Colorado Convention Center.

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @JonMurray

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