RFTA eyeing Glenwood Springs hotel property for employee housing
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is under contract for an undisclosed Glenwood Springs hotel property to convert to housing for the transit agency’s bus drivers and other employees.
And a newly adopted Glenwood Springs city ordinance that makes it easier to do such property conversions could help expedite that, said Mike Hermes, director of facilities and capital projects.
The operator of the valleywide bus system that serves the area from Aspen to Rifle is currently down 40 drivers, eight mechanics and about a half dozen administrative positions, Hermes said at the July 7 City Council meeting.
The staffing situation prompted a 13% cut in bus services this summer, he said.
“RFTA is looking for a quicker solution to our housing needs than trying to build our own or working with a developer to build something,” Hermes said during a break from the RFTA board of directors meeting in Carbondale Thursday morning.
The board discussed the proposed lodge purchase during an executive session but did not take formal action. Closing is scheduled for October, so the deal could become public at the September RFTA board meeting, he said.
Hermes noted that there are a lot of older hotel and motel properties in Glenwood Springs in particular that could be repurposed for housing.
“What we would do is purchase the property and upgrade it to modern building codes, install kitchenettes and use them as transitional housing for our employees,” he said. “The timeline to be able to do this is much shorter than building something from the ground up.”
The new city ordinance is helpful in that it relaxes some of the usual development code requirements for residential units, including parking.
Because most lodging properties are already paved lot line to lot line for parking, there’s not much more that could be added. The parking requirement for lodging is less than that for permanent residential units.
Green space requirements for residential development would also be hard to meet with a lodging property conversion, Hermes said.
“The new provisions makes these things more reasonable and feasible to do,” he said.
RFTA is among the area employers that has offered employee housing for several years, including owning two properties in Carbondale and several units in the Aspen area.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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