Senior housing envisioned for former racquet club site
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A new development intended to serve a range of senior citizen housing needs, from active retirees to those in need of limited nursing care, is proposed to replace the defunct Roaring Fork Lodge project at 27th Street and Midland Avenue.
Roaring Fork Lodge LLC manager Terry Claassen presented his conceptual plans to Glenwood Springs City Council last week for what he’s tentatively calling “Senior Living at the Roaring Fork Lodge.”
The development would include 124 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments that would be available for rent to senior citizens.
The age range to qualify for the housing has not been determined, but similar facilities in the region cater to those age 55 and up, Claassen said.
“The goal is to not limit the market for this project,” he also said, adding he anticipates the operators, who have not been determined at this point, would be willing to work with low-income residents as well as those who can afford free-market rentals.
The facility would not be a nursing or convalescent home. However, some on-site nursing care, physical therapy and “memory care services” could be offered, Claassen said.
He is currently working with potential operating partners to manage the facility once it is built.
The project would replace the once-proposed Roaring Fork Lodge, a luxury hotel and condominium project that was originally approved by the city for the former Sunlight Racquet Club site in 2007.
The former plan was approved for 106 hotel rooms and 40 luxury condominium units. The property owners had been working with Magnolia Hotels of Denver to oversee the construction and management of the hotel before the recession hit.
Roaring Fork Lodge LLC was also facing foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings in late 2009, and was ultimately unable to proceed with the project.
Some site work was done at the time, however, and Claassen also worked with the city to help design and construct the existing roundabout at 27th and Midland.
“A change in economic conditions and the market made it impossible to get financing for that project,” Claassen explained at the March 17 City Council meeting. “We spent much of the last year talking to people about what the best project would be for the Roaring Fork Valley community on that site.
“This is a significant change from what we had planned, but we believe this will still be a flagship project for the city of Glenwood Springs … and one that will have a huge economic impact on the lower valley,” he said.
The facility is expected to employ between 60 and 70 full- and part-time workers at full capacity. It would include a full kitchen and central dining area for the residents, as well as recreation amenities.
“We also anticipate a large indoor swimming pool,” Claassen said.
A preliminary feasibility study to determine the market for senior housing has been completed, he said, adding he expects a final draft by the end of this month.
“This is one of the few types of projects for which you can get financing right now,” he said.
Garfield County Senior Programs manager Judy Martin said she believes there is, or will be once the economy recovers, a need for more senior housing options in the area.
“With the recession, a lot of seniors have had to move back in with their families,” she said. “But most of the senior housing in the area has a waiting list.
“With the baby boomers turning of age where they will need more housing options, there will be a lot more need in the near future,” Martin said.
City council members were generally supportive of the new proposal, but had a few questions related to the adequacy of parking (the conceptual plan calls for 115 parking spaces), public access to the river frontage and traffic flow in an out of the complex.
“The need for this type of facility has been evident to us for a long time,” said Councilman Dave Sturges, who sits on the Garfield County Senior Programs advisory board.
A formal application will be submitted and will go through the public hearing process with the city planning and zoning commission and city council before final approval is considered.
Claassen said he anticipates breaking ground in four to six months, followed by a 10-month construction period.
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The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge experienced vandalism in the form of significant water damage after a man removed a pipe valve with a fire extinguisher flooding four hallways. The lodge however remains open and operational.