Uncertain future for Glenwood’s 1st Choice Inn residents
Cherie Olson and Marla Gonzales don’t know where they’ll live in the future.They’re two people leaving the 142 budget rooms in two hotels that may be disappearing in light of plans for a Glenwood Springs auto dealership facility.Original plans by the Vista Auto Group called for a three-story building 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.Vista purchased the Budget Host in a deal recorded on Aug. 17 for $1.3 million, according to a listing in the Post Independent’s Home Focus. 1st Choice Inns owner Scott Hert said the property is still under contract for sale. Vista president Rod Buscher couldn’t be immediately reached, but noted previously that Vista had yet to receive all city approvals but hoped to begin work at the site this spring.Olson lived in Rifle but was evicted after getting behind on rent. She moved into a 1st Choice Inn unit almost a year ago for its low cost.She lives with her husband and two kids – four people in a unit smaller than 400 square feet. She’s heard that violates city code, but said, “we’re not in the street with our two little girls.”She said she knows she’ll have to leave eventually with the plans for car dealerships, but doesn’t know where the family will go. Catholic Charities has suggested they leave the county and has offered to help with bus tickets, she said.”I actually like Glenwood,” she said. “I wish we could afford to live here.”Olson feels lucky to live at the inn’s property because of its affordability but said it’s not very healthy. She said members of her family have all been sick with allergies from mold and moss. She spoke while standing inside a side entrance underneath a ceiling partially covered in spider webs. Bits of trash and empty beer cans could be seen throughout the hallway.Hert described the conditions as “just a budget hotel.” He said there is no mold in the units he knows of. “If we have a problem, we get it fixed,” he said.Hert remains somewhat skeptical that the sale to Vista will actually go through. He said no notices have been handed out telling people they must get out because of the possible sale. There would still be plenty of time to notify people afterwards, he noted, if the sale does go through.Gonzales said she pays $275 a week and has lived at the 1st Choice Inns for five months with her mother, brother and baby girl. The family moved into the inns because they were more affordable than other rentals. Gonzales said she was told three weeks ago to leave by Nov. 29 because the place is supposed to be torn down.”It is really tough because we don’t know where to go,” she said.She thought her family might be split up if she ends up going to Denver to live with an uncle, because his place wouldn’t be big enough for them all.Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities, said several scared people leaving the 1st Choice Inns have asked for help finding housing. He’s concerned about a large number of people being released into Glenwood’s housing market.”Now we’re taking this incredibly tight market already and unleashing X-amount of households that need rentals,” he said. “And some of these people are probably going to give up and look for housing elsewhere.”Ziemann believes local government should intervene and do more to help fix the housing problems. He said other communities have been more successful by creating a multi-jurisdictional housing authority, so developers aren’t able to go “shopping around” for other communities in the area that would better suit their needs.”The government protects the common good of their communities,” he said. “If you use that as a common principle, then the government needs to intervene to create opportunities for real people to live here.”Contact Pete Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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