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Durango considers buying 71-unit hotel to help with affordable housing

City Council to meet in closed-door session about Best Western property
The city of Durango is reportedly considering buying a motel, possibly the Best Western Inn & Suites on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango, to convert and use as affordable or transitional housing. (Shane Benjamin/Durango Herald)

Durango City Council is considering using Best Western hotel properties in Durango for transitional or affordable housing.

City officials have been looking for a way to address affordability since housing costs began to spike and the stock of available units started to plummet in 2020 and early 2021. The Best Western project is one of many ideas councilors are considering to address the issue.

City Council will meet in executive session Tuesday to discuss the purchase of Best Western hotel properties. The council is legally permitted to discuss real estate negotiations behind closed doors.

Few details are publicly available about the project, which is in its early stages. Mayor Kim Baxter said Thursday she did not know the content of the executive session.

The Best Western project, if it goes forward, could be used to support various needs, including possible workforce housing or temporary shelter for those experiencing housing insecurity, Baxter said.

City staff members submitted a request to Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper. The city asked for $9.6 million in federal funding to purchase and convert a 71-unit hotel into affordable housing, according to their websites.

Hickenlooper and Bennet included the request among about 150 requests for earmarked funds from other Colorado communities. The requests are not guaranteed to receive funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider them while writing the annual spending bill this fall, their websites said.

The city of Durango is reportedly considering buying a motel, possibly the Best Western Inn & Suites on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango, to convert and use as affordable or transitional housing. (Shane Benjamin/Durango Herald)

The city declined to share which of three Best Western properties in Durango it was interested in purchasing.

One Best Western Inn & Suites, located on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango, went on sale in early 2020. It was unclear if the hotel, which has 71 units and was listed for sale for $6.7 million, was still on the market Thursday.

“I believe we’ll find out around the end of August whether we’ll get the federal money to pursue conversion of hotel property to some sort of housing,” Baxter said, although the timing could change.

smullane@durangoherald.com

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that both senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet furthered Durango’s federal funding request.

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