Hospital’s latest employee housing helps Skico workers
Some of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s overseas workers might not have ventured to town this winter without catching a lucky break from Aspen Valley Hospital.
AVH closed its purchase of the Beaumont Inn too late last fall to use the old lodge for its own seasonal workers. Instead of letting the building sit empty while Aspen is facing the worst of its annual worker housing shortage, the hospital struck a deal with the Skico.
The Skico signed a master lease to rent the Beaumont for one season. The company is renting 22 units at $700 per month for four months, according to hospital records. The total lease comes to $61,600.
Each of the units in the former lodge in east Aspen can house two employees.
“They were pretty desperate for housing,” said Don Gillow, AVH’s employee housing coordinator.
“It’s certainly a welcome addition,” said Jim Laing, Skico’s vice president of human resources. “We had several J1 [visa] applicants who wanted to come over for jobs but were reluctant to without housing.”
J1 visas are granted through the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for workers with specific skills. They are allowed into the U.S. for a specific time period as long as they have a job prearranged.
Once the Skico secured the Beaumont, it was able to tell its J1 job applicants to come on over. Laing said the Skico wouldn’t have been in dire straits without the Beaumont, since it offers about 300 other beds in its employee housing pool. But the addition of 44 other beds certainly helped.
For AVH, leasing the Beaumont to the Skico helped with cash flow, even at a rental rate that Gillow called “definitely reasonable.”
AVH’s board of directors approved the purchase of the Beaumont Inn last fall for $4.83 million after vacillating on the deal for more than a month. Gillow said he had already made arrangements for housing for AVH’s seasonal staff before the Beaumont was acquired.
“Once we closed on it we looked into running it as a lodge,” he said. But the hospital couldn’t find a property management company that wanted to take over operations of a lodge at that late date.
The hospital plans to begin work in May to convert the lodge into permanent housing, Gillow said. The plan is to take three lodge rooms and convert them into two-bedroom apartments. The remodeled space will feature about 25 bedrooms.
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