Log In


Reset Password
Business

Durango’s motel-to-apartments housing project should be ready for tenants by end of year

Development targets wage earners making 30% to 60% of area median income
Construction crews build framing for an apartment building that will be part of the Residences at Durango, a low-income housing project at the former Best Western motel on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Durango’s Residences at Durango, a motel-to-apartments conversion that will create 120 new low-income rental units at the former Best Western motel on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango, will be ready to house tenants by the end of the year.

The project consists of the conversion of the former Best Western into apartments and the construction of two additional apartment buildings and a commercial building that will be available to rent for nonprofits.

By the end of the year, 72 motel rooms will have been converted into apartments and fitted with home appliances such as kitchen sinks, dishwashers and laundry machines.

TWG construction crews were hard at work this week constructing the framing for one of the two new apartment buildings.

Construction started after a groundbreaking ceremony in October. TWG Director of Renovations Brian Vandemoortele said construction has been going smoothly and the 72 flipped motel-to-apartment units will be ready to house occupants by year’s end.

The former Best Western motel on U.S. Highway 160 in west Durango will be converted into 72 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Colton Wagner, a field engineer with TWG, stands in the living room/kitchen area of an apartment being remodeled at Residences at Durango, a motel-to-apartment conversion focused on providing housing to low-income earners. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“It’s been a great winter in Durango, unlike last year where we had feet and feet of snow,” he said. “This winter has been great and allowed us to do a lot of our earth work and foundations earlier than planned.”

Durango Housing Innovation Manager Eva Henson said 44 of the original motel units will be transformed into studios, 27 will become one-bedroom units and one unit will feature two bedrooms.

An additional 48 units are planned to be completed in the new buildings next year. Of those, there will be 28 two-bedroom units and 20 three-bedroom units, she said.

TWG field engineer Colton Wagner said the two additional apartment buildings will each be built three stories high.

Sewer pipes and underground drainage have already been installed on the plots where the buildings will be constructed, he said. Crews had begun framing for one building Thursday morning.

The project targets income earners making between 30% and 60% of La Plata County’s area median income. In other words, a two-person household earning between $26,520 and $53,040 could qualify for a unit.

The vast majority of units will be available for income earners making 60% area median income or lower, while six units will be reserved for income earners making 30% area median income or less, Henson said.

Rent for studio apartments for the lowest-income earners could be as low as $580 a month for a single-person household, according to 2024 area median income data and rental rates provided by the city.

The Residences at Durango low-income housing project will target income earners making 30% to 60% area median income and will make for some of the most affordable units in the city. (Courtesy city of Durango)

Walking through one of the former motel rooms planned to become a studio apartment, Wagner said the motel conversion is the first project of its kind he’s worked on.

He pointed around the small but livable space, naming appliances that will be installed later.

“Fridge, stove, microwave, dishwasher,” he said, looking around the unit’s to-be kitchen area.

Units in the former motel are already outfitted with heating and air conditioning units leftover from the Best Western days. They’ll be left where they are because they are fairly new and are in good condition, he said.

He said a lot of features of the building are outdated compared to today’s standards. Hangers for fire suppression systems and joist hangers to support upper floors need to be updated.

Construction is underway at Residences at Durango, a low-income housing project in west Durango that is transforming the former Best Western motel into an apartment complex. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Every unit will be fitted with fire sprinklers, he said. A community laundry space will be available along with, potentially, a fitness center.

According to a project description on the city’s website, Residences at Durango will meet at least the bronze certification under the National Green Building Standard program. It is contracting Group 14, an energy rater, for its construction.

The city says LED E-Star lighting, low flow features and E-Star appliances will be included in units and electric vehicle charging stations will be installed “for future use as needed.”

Construction on the Residences at Durango, a low-income housing development in west Durango, is making progress, according to TWG, the owner, developer and property manager of the project. Seventy-two units are projected to be ready for tenants by the end of the year. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The project is the first low-income tax credits development of its kind in Colorado, and it is also the largest affordable and low-income housing development in the Southwest region.

Henson said the project is an example of how adaptive reuse – a housing concept Henson has championed since she joined the city’s ranks in January 2022 – combined with new development can “achieve large impacts at scale to help address our housing needs.”

“Knowing that this is the first hotel-to-housing conversion for the state’s low-income housing tax credit program really allowed us to lead by example and sets the stage as a replicable model for future projects, not only locally, but at the state and national level to be a proven model that it can be done,” she said.

Colton Wagner, left, a field engineer with TWG, and Mike Grant, with TWG, stand in the living room/kitchen area that is in the process of being remodeled at the site of Residences at Durango, a motel-to-apartment conversion focused on providing housing to low-income earners. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The housing model has gained attention from other municipalities within and beyond state lines, she said. Most recently, Henson has heard from Ouray, Grand Junction, Chafee County Housing Authority and Park City, Utah.

She said TWG is aiming to make the 72 converted units move-in ready by November or December at the latest. The rest of the units in the buildings under construction should be ready for occupation by February or March 2025.

“TWG is the developer, owner, and will also serve as the property management company,” she said. “Their team will be the point of contact for prospective tenants and application processes.”

Vandemoortele, who oversees the construction side of TWG, said he does not have information about the tenant application process at this time.

Henson said information about tenant applications will likely become available this summer and the city is keeping tabs on any developments on that front.

cburney@durangoherald.com

Colton Wagner, left, a field engineer with TWG, and Mike Grant, with TWG, discuss construction at the Residences at Durango, a low-income housing project in west Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)


Reader Comments