Crews chipping away at Snowmass Inn improvements, studios get total revamp

The kitchen area, storage cabinets and bathroom sink in a renovated Snowmass Inn unit on July 18, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Snowmass Sun

“Rough shape” might be a generous description for the condition of the 39 studio units at the Snowmass Inn, where dripping faucets, mysterious stains and stoveless kitchens used to be the norm. “Kitchen,” too, might be a generous word for a space that could accommodate, at most, a mini-fridge, a coffee maker and a hot plate or microwave.

Well, it might describe most of the units, anyway. After the town of Snowmass Village bought the slopeside hotel-turned-housing in 2020 and formally took over management from East West Partners in 2021, a small crew of workers has been chipping away at renovating the rooms, revamping nearly everything within each unit’s 330-ish square feet. (Some enormous armoires that look large enough to house at least two portals to Narnia have stuck around.) 

“It’s kind of shocking sometimes to see the condition they’re in,” said Betsy Crum, the housing director for the town of Snowmass Village. 

“To be able to bring them … up to par, to make them a nice place where anybody would like to live — it feels good,” she added. 

Eight units already showcase the new digs, which Charles Cunniffe Architects helped design and which a compact crew have been turning into reality over the past few months, according to Crum. Matt Dutcher, a housing maintenance mechanic with the town, and Matt Pine, who owns Ajax Supply in the Snowmass Mall, have taken the reins on the construction work, Crum said while leading a walkthrough of the inn with Dutcher and this reporter on July 18. 

The redone kitchens feature a built-in two-burner stove, plug-in oven/air fryer unit and a larger sink with a wood slab cut to fit over the basin to create more counter space. An almost-floor-to-ceiling cabinet unit offers storage space and separates food prep from the bathroom sink. The flooring is new; the walls have a fresh coat of paint. 

The Inn had previously has been home to both seasonal and year-round tenants, with each double-occupancy rooms renting for $1,500 per month with utilities and housekeeping included. Some businesses master leased units for employees. The last round of seasonal residents moved out at the end of the 2021-22 ski season and the town intends to offer units on a year-round basis, according to Crum. 

There are still year-round workers living in about half of the units, Crum said. They get dibs first on the remodeled studio units, which will rent for $1,200 per month with all utilities included. Residents also get access to a swimming pool shared with the Willows Condominiums and the Pokolodi Lodge, Crum said. As the town finishes remodeling more units, some will eventually go to people on the waitlist.

The rent is more on par with a one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit in the town’s rental inventory, where other studios currently rent for $550-$1070 per month, according to the town’s 2022 rental rates chart

Crum recognizes that, and counters with the amenities — slopeside and poolside access, all-inclusive rent — and the cost of the effort to the town, which bought the inn for about $6 million and has allocated another $800,000 to renovations so far.

Initially, that renovation fund may have covered some exterior and interior improvements, but rising construction costs put a pin in some of the aesthetic updates outside in favor of what Crum refers to as “livability” updates inside, which include some heath and safety related work on the electrical and boiler systems as well as the room remodels.

With 125 local workers currently on the town’s waitlist for a studio unit, the Snowmass Inn project will at least make a dent in the long line for affordable housing here. 

Allocation is based on employment time, not time spent on the list; applicants need an average of five years’ employment time to make it to the top of the waiting list, according to a master housing plan that was approved last year. And the Snowmass Inn helps fill that housing gap without the added challenges of developing new construction on the little buildable land that remains in the town. (The town’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan indicates that single-family lots and lodges are already 94% built out and multifamily lots are already 95% built out.)

“It’s really great to be able to add units on the affordable market,” Crum said. “And it’s hard to build. … We don’t have a lot of land here in town. So it doesn’t, you know, create any real — more impact (on the land).”


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