CDOT misses out on Express Inn... for now

       The plan for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to buy the Express Inn property didn't work out.
       Around the time CDOT was finalizing a fair market value, a private Colorado Springs entity was writing a check for $1,100,050 as the only bidder at a foreclosure sale Dec. 21.
       The sale became final Jan. 6 after no one stepped forward within a specified time period to make up the deficiency between the amount of the bid for the five-acre parcel at 725 W. Cimarron St. and the $1.7 million that was owed on it, according to the El Paso County Public Trustee's Office.
       The new owner is EDR Allinn LLC. This is the corporate name used by Ernest D. Ringler, who started Pikes Peak Sanitation in 2000, according to Colorado Secretary of State records.
       So far, Ringler has made no public announcement of his plans for the property - the hotel was closed last spring for health and safety reasons - and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful as of press deadline.
       Dave Watt, representing CDOT, said the private purchase was “not what we were expecting, but we're looking at meeting with the new owner, hearing what their plans are and figuring out what steps to take from here.”
       CDOT sought the property because of its location at the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Cimarron/Highway 24. A CDOT-planned Highway 24 expansion west of I-25 calls for a future interchange there, and the land would be needed for right of way, Watt has explained.
       The expansion, which has been in the planning stages since 2004, still has not been submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for final approval, nor is there any pledged funding or a schedule for the interchange's construction; however, Watt said the government has a “preventive buy” program that allows such an advance purchase effort. This can result in money savings for the state. “We try to get out ahead of development,” he said.
       Only after FHWA approval of what's called the “environmental assessment” for the Highway 24-expansion design can CDOT insist on buying (at fair market value) private property needed for project right of way, Watt clarified.
       In the meantime, “there's not a problem of having a private business there,” he said.
       Watt had announced the state's interest in the Express Inn site last July, but made clear that under CDOT rules no offer could be made until its fair market value had been determined. In late December (around the time of the Dec. 21 foreclosure sale, as it happened) he told the Westside Pioneer that CDOT was almost finished with that determination.

Westside Pioneer article