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City of Durango lands $1M grant to help convert Best Western into affordable units

$35 million project would renovate 72 motel rooms into 120 housing rentals
The city of Durango received $1 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to convert the Best Western Inn & Suites into 120 affordable rental units on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango. (Shane Benjamin/Durango Herald file)

The city of Durango has been awarded $1 million by the state of Colorado to help with the conversion of the former Best Western Inn & Suites on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango.

The funding was awarded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and will contribute to renovations and construction scheduled to begin in May and be completed sometime next year, according to a news release put out by the city on Wednesday.

Tom Sluis, city spokesman, said in an email cities like Durango have limited resources when it comes to tackling big social issues such as the lack of affordable housing, and any additional funding is appreciated.

“The combination of local, state and federal funds is crucial for the success of a project like the Best Western conversion,” he said.

Eva Henson, city housing innovation manager, said the project is a strong example of an innovative housing project that stands to “benefit both residents and the local economy.”

“We are thrilled to receive this state funding, which will help us to provide much-needed affordable housing to our community,” she said. “The Residences at Durango project will not only create 120 affordable rental units, but also revitalize a former hotel and provide a mixed-use neighborhood within one mile of downtown Durango.”

The Best Western conversion, dubbed the Residences at Durango, is a $35 million project that will renovate 72 motel rooms into apartment rental units and construct 48 original units for a total of 120 affordable rentals in west Durango. The units are targeted at residents who earn between 30% to 60% area median income. It’s the first affordable housing development along the U.S. Highway 160 west corridor, the city said.

The $1 million DOLA grant, provided through the state’s Innovative Housing Incentive Grant Program, is the latest of several sources of funding secured for the development.

In October, the city was awarded $3 million to help fund the project after submitting a request for congressional direct spending the previous year, according to the city. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper spearheaded the congressional appropriation.

The Colorado Housing Finance Authority along with La Plata County and Durango dedicated another $18 million in private activity bond allocations to the motel conversion project and TWG Development, the developer carrying out the conversion, is utilizing 4% low-income housing tax credits from CHFA, according to the city.

Ryan Kelly with TWG Development said in a February that he anticipates the project to be completed about 15 months after ground breaks this spring.


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