|The Iron Horse Inn, above, was bought
last week by a group of local investors who would like to
turn part of the multi-unit property into affordable housing./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
Iron Horse Inn changes hands
The Iron Horse Inn was bought last
week by a group of local residents that would like to see the
multi-unit property turned into permanent housing, with a portion
set aside as affordable housing.
"We would love to see it
go that way," said Frank Sinton, one of the new owners, who also
developed Dalton Ranch. "That is our intention."
Sinton said the group
closed on the property, located at 5800 Main Ave., just within
Durango's northern limits, on New Year's Eve. He declined to
disclose the purchase price but said the property was bought from a
Sinton said the plans
for the property are still preliminary and hinge on several
factors, the first of which would be to change the zoning from
commercial to residential use. He said the group is beginning to
explore that possibility, and if all goes as planned, would like to
have a proposal submitted to the city by the end of
Another stumbling block
to the project could be bringing the 146 one-bedroom loft units up
to code, Sinton said. The building predates both the county and
city planning departments, and Sinton said he believes it was built
"There could be building
code issues that would be expensive to repair," he said.
Another option for the
property would be to operate partly as a motel and partly as
permanent townhomes, possibly converting some into two-bedroom
units, he said.
However, Sinton said the
group is dedicated to making the affordable housing idea
"The property really
lends itself well to affordable housing," he said.
In a step toward that
end, Sinton said the Iron Horse's new owners have been in contact
with Southwest Housing Solutions, a nonprofit organization that
works to provide housing for low- to moderate-income residents of
Tony Stohl, CEO of
Housing Solutions, said although it is premature to discuss the
project in depth, his group is interested in seeing affordable
housing at the site.
"We pray it will work
because it's a wonderful opportunity," he said, reiterating that
the location is ideal. "It's the perfect spot. There's bus lines
and all sorts of things."
Stohl said creating
affordable housing is crucial right now, with real estate prices
rising beyond the reach of much of Durango's working
"The gap is widening
like crazy, and the problem just becomes worse and worse," he said.
"If people don't eventually own a home, then sooner or later,
acknowledged that "there are a ton of things that have to happen"
for the project to come to fruition.
"If we can do it, it's
going to be a super opportunity," he said. "We're excited. I think
it could be a win-win, which is great."
Council approves Grandview map
After a relatively uneventful and
controversy-free meeting, the development of Grandview moved a step
closer to reality. By a unanimous vote, the Durango City Council
approved the Grandview Area Plan, a vision for the future of the
entire Grandview area. The plan was sparked by the Southern Ute
Indian Tribe's push to develop 2,211 units on 682 acres,
approximately 20 percent of the land covered by the
As the meeting got under
way, City Planner Greg Hoch stated that there had been two prior
meetings to discuss the future of Grandview and roughly 200 people
took part at each one. "There was a lot of initial public comment
at each of those times," he said.
Hoch also noted that
transportation issues, a significant criticism of the Grandview
development, have largely been solved. In particular, he mentioned
the recent appearance of $10 million for the addition of two lanes
to U.S. Highway 160 from Grandview to Durango. "A number of
opponents to this area plan have been saying show us the money," he
said. "Well, all of a sudden the money showed up."
Hoch said that as part
of the area plan, the city is also exploring alternatives to skirt
Highway 160. He pointed to an alternate route on County Road 234 as
well as a potential new road connecting Ewing Mesa and Highway 3.
Such a road would cross the area currently containing many of Horse
"We know that throughout
the entire eastern section of the county, there will have to be
some traffic alternatives to alleviate pressure on Highway 160,"
When the vote came,
Mayor Virginia Castro commented that the resolution of
transportation issues had changed her vote and made her in favor of
the area plan. The tribe's proposed development makes its next stop
this Thursday, Jan. 8, before the Durango Planning Commission. The
commission will begin to discuss annexation of the property inside
city limits. The annexation question will eventually go before the
Snowpack now above average
In spite of some inconveniences, the
three-day storm that hit on the evening of Jan. 1 offered a major
boost to the region's ski areas and boosted the basin's snowpack to
above average levels for the first time in several
After the system had
passed, Durango Mountain Resort reported 36 inches of fresh in
three days. The resort reported a total of 5 feet of snowfall since
Christmas and a midway base of 65 inches.
"These are some of the
best conditions I've ever seen on Purgatory Mountain," said Vice
President of Mountain Operations Mike McCormack, a 25-year
The Silverton Mountain
Ski Area reported more dramatic conditions. Jenny Ader, of
Silverton Mountain, noted that heavy snowfalls forced closures of
Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank passes and shut off Silverton
from the outside for two days. On Tuesday, Silverton Mountain was
reporting a 92 inch mid-mountain base and commented that local
historians were calling the recent storm the biggest to hit the San
Juans in 11 years.
Ski Hesperus received 26
inches from the storm, a windfall that has made for the small
area's best conditions in five years. Wolf Creek Ski Area reported
44 inches of new snowfall out of the storm, pushing its midway base
to 102 inches, and Telluride received 24 inches from the storm for
a base of 48 inches.
As of Jan. 5, snow data
sites were posting welcome results. The Cascade station reported
109 percent of average total precipitation; the Molas Lake station
turned in 117 percent of average; and the Vallecito Lake gauge
reported 118 percent of average. The storm put the entire region,
including the San Miguel, Dolores, San Juan, and Animas basins, at
106 percent of average total precipitation.The number makes this
the third-highest basinwide snowpack in Colorado, exceeded only by
the Gunnison River Basin at 113 percent and the Rio Grande Basin at
compiled by Missy
and Will Sands