When new owners bought the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel last year, they promised to invest in the 59-year-old giant at the southeast end of 16th Street Mall.

Less than a year later, the promised investment began. Tuesday marked the official start of a $ 80 million renovation project that will touch every corner of the hotel, including all 1,231 guest rooms.

“I think the timing is phenomenal,” said Tony Dunn, the hotel’s general manager for six years. “This city has incredible (hotel) products. Unfortunately mine is one of the most tired. We didn’t have the capital to invest. Now we have owners who are ready to get involved. “

The first act of the nine-month overhaul begins this week with the five 18-foot tall ballerina statues that stand in front of the hotel entrance and exit the stage on the right. The elongated dancers, who have welcomed guests to the Sheraton since 1997, are being revived in the Denver Arts District in Santa Fe south of downtown.

In their place, the Sheraton will update its Porte Cochere entrance. This is part of the first phase of the project, which will also include a new lobby and signature bar in the immediate vicinity of the pedestrian zone. In the following phases, the hotel rooms will be converted and the ballroom and foyer revised before the work is completed in April.

Rendering by Johnson Nathan Strohe

An artist rendering of the registration area at the Sheraton Denver Downtown, part of a $ 80 million renovation of the hotel.

The design, led by Denver architectural firm Johnson Nathan Strohe, pays homage to IM Pei, the late architect who drew up the plans for the hotel and was involved in the 16th Street Mall project.

With 130,000 square feet of meeting space, the Sheraton is not only the largest hotel in Denver by number of rooms, but also one of the best options for hosting large events outside of the Colorado Convention Center. The owners, who took over it last year, a joint venture between Atlanta-based High Street Real Estate Partners and Southern California’s Eagle Four Partners, cited the hotel’s role as a meeting place in a public statement released Tuesday.

“Our extensive renovation plan will continue to position the Sheraton as a meeting and event hotel for trophy groups in Denver and benefit from proximity to Denver’s best deals,” Eagle Four partner Kory Kramer said in a statement.

Kramer’s group bought the hotel shortly after hotel giant Marriott International bought Sheraton brand owner Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The resulting mega-corporation will set a new standard for Sheraton hotels and the Denver Downtown building will only be the second hotel to be upgraded to meet these requirements, Dunn said.

Rendering by Johnson Nathan Strohe

An artist’s rendering of a pool at Sheraton Denver Downtown on Court Place and 16th Street Mall.

The largest hotel in the state is now the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center with 1,501 rooms in Aurora. The property, which has 486,000 square feet of meeting space, opened in December, but its owners have already received a $ 80 million line of credit with potential for expansion.

Aside from its rival in the east, the Sheraton, which was last updated in 2008, faces increasing competition on the 16th Street Mall as well. Since the Denver Union Station renovation project in 2014, the number of hotels on the northwest end of 16th Street has grown rapidly.

“I think we were always excited and a little jealous of what happened on the other end of the mall,” said Dunn. “I think work will start in the mall. I think this project starts that and this hotel needs to be increased. “

Rendering by Johnson Nathan Strohe

An artist rendering of a new bar in the Sheraton Denver Downtown.

The entire mall itself is being prepared for a major renovation, a multi-year project expected to cost up to $ 130 million. Some of the mall’s dead spots have recently been given new life thanks to projects like the long-awaited Target store in downtown Denver.

Tami Door, executive director of the Downtown Denver Partnership, believes the Sheraton project could be a catalyst for the southeast end.

“The commitment to make this significant investment in the refurbishment of this property sends a strong message about the viability and future of the area,” she said.