By Matt Watson
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Two Roadrunners walk into bar, and…
…Three-and-a-half years later, they team up to build and open a sleek new Downtown Denver hotel.
That’s the real-life origin story of the new Element Downtown Denver East Hotel, which Metropolitan State University of Denver alumni Matt Maley and Hamant Patel (along with other partners) opened last August in the Golden Triangle, a few blocks from the campus on which they studied separately two decades apart.
Having graduated from the College of Business in 1990 to 2006, respectively, Patel and Maley never met in school. However, they each launched their careers in the Denver area and met while working in the hospitality and urban development industries. After becoming friends and staying in touch over the years, they hatched a plan to work on a hotel project together over a drink back in 2016, and the result of their labor is the new 157-room hotel at 1314 N Elati St.
It’s not an accident – their joint entrepreneurial spirit is one that was fostered by their time in college, and their appreciation for the “Roadrunner hustle” is what compelled them to join forces for their latest project.
“We laugh about the mindset it takes to be a Roadrunner. The way it was described to me by a friend once was the ‘rumbling herd from the lower third.’ I was told that somebody had coined that phrase in the ‘60s, about all the students running across Colfax before there were stoplights,” Maley said. “It’s that hustling mindset, and MSU Denver students have it. We’re all hustling self-motivators.”
A record 85.2 million people visited Colorado in 2018, keeping a nine-year streak of record-setting growth alive, according to Colorado Tourism Office. While there’s no shortage of places to stay in Denver, the Golden Triangle area – home to a number of museums and civic institutions – was only home to one hotel prior to the Element groundbreaking.
Patel, a principal at H&H Hotels, is a friend of the previous owner of the lot where the modern seven-story hotel now sits. Meanwhile, Maley, a principal at Alliance Investments, had a contact with the equity for a big project. Along with their other partners, the duo’s joint venture, H&A Development, had its first project.
“The reality of limited hotel options in the Golden Triangle was a major selling point for this project. It’s a pretty big geographic area as far as city neighborhoods are concerned,” Maley said. “It’s surrounded by three major thoroughfares: Speer, Broadway and Colfax create the triangle, and those are some of the most traveled streets in Denver.”
With a property under contract, they turned their sights toward a hotel brand, which can be harder to come by than affordable Denver real estate. It was a challenge to find a well-known brand, as many of the major brands were already represented in the downtown area, Maley said.
The group liked the Element brand, which is known for its environmentally friendly brand standards, making it a good fit for Coloradans.
“The Element brand seemed like a perfect fit for a neighborhood that is both environmentally and art-conscious,” Maley added. “We were excited that the Golden Triangle neighborhood committee felt the same way and provided valuable feedback into the design as well.”
In addition to the Element Downtown Denver East, the group is also developing the 123-room Element Denver DIA Hotel, which is set to open near the intersection of High Point Boulevard and Tower Road in spring 2020. Staggering the projects provided the guys a chance to use lessons learned at the first site at the location close to Denver International Airport.
“Going through this process, we’re definitely fine-tuning the tail end of construction on the second one, because there were a lot of things on this project that we wish we had done differently that we’re able to do that over there. It’s a great position to be in,” Maley said.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing at the second site, however, as the infamous bomb cyclone that hit Denver in March knocked over some steel beams and ripped up the concrete foundation. Once again, hustle came in handy to keep the project on track.
With one hotel open and a second on the way, the MSU Denver alumni are looking forward toward other projects near the airport and in the River North Art District. It’s a trajectory of success that neither Maley nor Patel take for granted.
“My goal has always been to become an entrepreneur, and real estate development has provided that opportunity. The ‘Roadrunner mentality’ has also been key to helping me chase down that goal.” said Maley.
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