Hotels might be demolished |

Hotels might be demolished

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

The neon “vacant” sign, the life-sized, guitar-wielding Elvis statue, and assorted western kitsch at the 1st Choice Inns may all be on the way to Americana heaven this spring.Vista Auto Group president Rod Buscher said work could begin early next year on Vista’s plans to tear down two West Glenwood Springs lodging establishments – the inns and the Budget Host – and replace them with car dealerships.”We’re in process with the city and with the manufacturers, doing our design work,” he said. “We’ve already closed on the Budget Host.”Along with Elvis, Jim Morrison on the cover of Rolling Stone, the fake jail and iconic western images gracing the walls of the Goodtime Grille, there are the people who would have to find new jobs. The Goodtime Grille is owned by and occupies the same building as the 1st Choice Inns.”I don’t think about it a lot,” said owner Bob Hert. “I’m just running a hotel.”

Hert, who grew up with parents in the hotel business and has been in it himself for about 20 years, said he’s sold enough hotels to know that the deals don’t always go through. The family would simply buy another hotel elsewhere if the deal does go through, he added, saying he’s not overly attached to the inns. But asked later about the staff, he said, “I think everybody is kind of attached to the job, and the place.”Kathy Stahlman, who manages the Village Green Townhomes behind the Budget Host and owns an acupuncture business on Midland Avenue, said she’d be happy to see the hotels with “inadequate” living conditions go. But the bigger issue to her is housing. She said it’s “criminal” that so many shoddy units are rented around town because there’s no available housing and the city won’t subsidize affordable housing.”I consider it poor planning by the city,” she said. “Because they’re not doing subsidized housing. … They’re putting in all these car dealerships, but why?”Stahlman said most people in the area buy cars in Denver anyway. She suggested the city could have purchased the property and developed housing.Community development director Andrew McGregor agreed housing is a critical issue, but said the city does not have the goal of becoming a developer under current policy and does not really have the resources or expertise to do large scale developments of the nature Stahlman suggested.Glenwood waives fees for some developments of affordable housing, he said, including the failed Meadows housing proposal, for which the city agreed to waive or defer over $1 million in fees. McGregor praised Vista’s unique three-story design for consolidating the dealerships, which would save space that might be used for other purposes.

Vista’s proposal initially reviewed by the city in June called for a three-story facility to house Chevrolet, Nissan, Honda and Subaru dealerships on the 5.6 acres of adjoining land occupied by the Budget Host and the 1st Choice Inns. The footprint of the building was described as similar to the Lowe’s at Glenwood Meadows.Buscher said the details of the plans are still being hammered out and are subject to change.”We currently do not have a final plan yet for how the design’s going to end up,” he said. “It won’t necessarily end up three stories. That was our original design and it may or may not stay that way.”Vista has closed a deal to buy the Budget Host and is under contract to buy the 1st Choice Inns.The purchases and subsequent development would mean Glenwood – a city with high demand for both temporary and permanent housing – would lose 120 rooms at the 1st Choice Inns and 22 rooms at the Budget Host hotel.

The Garfield County Assessor’s Web site shows the Budget Host property was assessed at $1.62 million and the 1st Choice Inns property was assessed at $5.2 million.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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