One’s being redeveloped, the other torn down
Express Inn site to face wrecking ball in June

       With ownership since late December, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has begun cleanup activities at the former Express Inn property that will lead to the building's demolition.

The shell of the former Express Inn, undergoing asbestos removal in preparation for a complete tear-down.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Dave Watt, a resident engineer for CDOT, predicted in a recent interview that the structures will come down by the end of June.
       The work that's going on now at the 4.63-acre site southeast of Cimarron/ Highway 24 and Eighth Street is asbestos abatement, he said. The demolition is to begin around the start of June. The land will then be cleared and revegetated, in readiness for its use in the eventual widening of Cimarron Street, Watt explained.
       The property is in a key location, between the Cimarron/I-25 interchange - whose replacement has been deemed the region's highest transportation priority - and Eighth Street, where an interchange is part of CDOT's long-range “Envision 24 West” plans.
       The widening is not required to accommodate the new ramps for the I-25 interchange, although the work could be included with that project if funding is available, Watt said.
       In any case, “it [the land] will be necessary down the road for Eighth Street,” he elaborated.
       The state has no plans to use the majority of the Express Inn property, but plans to keep all its acreage until the exact right-of-way uses have been determined. In the meanwhile, the cleared space “could be used as a nice staging area for the I-25 project,” Watt said.
       The cost to build Cimarron/I-25, including four new ramps, is estimated by CDOT at about $95 million. No funding is currently available, but a grant application involving local matching funds is in the works under a new CDOT program called Responsible Acceleration of Mainten-ance and Partnerships (RAMP).
       Originally a Holiday Inn, the 207-room Express Inn in its final years became a kind of step up from a homeless shelter. Leasing the building from out-of-state property owners, the innkeepers offered tenants low-cost food and rooms, along with hands-on support in seeking jobs and/or assistance. However, the property owners did not keep up with their payments, the building fell into disrepair and the hotel closed in 2011.
       The property is one of three large parcels on the south side of Cimarron at Eighth Street that CDOT targeted for purchase in Envision 24 West (a public study that took place between 2004 to 2012). The other two are the 37,000-square-foot, roughly 25-unit Colorado Place strip center (which includes the freestanding La Casita restaurant) and the 18,500-square-foot Acorn (Conoco) gas station/convenience store. The basic plan is to widen Highway 24 to make room for an interchange, although Watt said earlier this year that new stoplight technology being installed on Cimarron makes that project less immediately critical.

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