RFTA set to purchase Rodeway Inn motel in West Glenwood for worker-housing project
Closing on the deal is expected by mid-November
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Board on Thursday formally approved the purchase of the Rodeway Inn property in West Glenwood for $4.88 million for conversion into employee housing units.
Closing on the deal is expected by mid-November, according to documents before the RFTA board at its regular meeting in Carbondale.
If the deal goes through, the 42-unit motel is to be remodeled under Glenwood Springs’ new hotel/motel conversions ordinance before it can be used to house RFTA employees. City rules require the converted property to have a fire-suppression system, kitchenettes and other upgrades in order to be used for that purpose.
The motel purchase has been in the works since spring, as RFTA has struggled with a shortage of drivers and other employees, which is partly due to the lack of affordable housing within the transit agency’s service area.
RFTA operates the valleywide bus system and Hogback routes that extend from Aspen to Rifle, and contracts with the city of Glenwood Springs for the Ride Glenwood service.
The lack of housing “is heavily impacting RFTA’s ability to recruit and retain an adequate number of year-round bus operators,” RFTA Chief Operating Officer Kurt Ravenschlag noted in a board memo.
“The total cost of due diligence and renovations will not be known until the design has been completed and the project has been advertised for bids,” he said.
The additional cost for the improvements is expected to be in the range of $3 million to $4 million, he said.
The money for the property purchase and the renovations will initially come out of RFTA’s reserves. However, the intergovernmental agency may look to replenish those funds through a lease/purchase financing arrangement, authorization for which was given by the board through a separate resolution on Thursday.
RFTA began exploring potential employee housing options in the spring, at the same time Glenwood Springs City Council was drafting its hotel/motel conversions ordinance.
“Given the ongoing hiring challenges to fill the shortfall of bus operators experienced by RFTA, the limited number of available workforce housing options and increasing construction costs due to inflation on materials and labor, the concept of a hotel conversion for employee housing gained traction primarily due to the number of units that could be available in a shorter time-frame and lower cost per unit compared to construction estimates,” RFTA Chief Financial Officer Michael Yang noted in a memo explaining the lease/purchase option.
Design and planning costs for the future upgrades that will be needed at the property are to be discussed by the board at a future meeting.