Copper-topped cottages open in Oak Creek
On their Harley motorcycle riding vacations in Colorado, Patti and Tony Dress pick up souvenirs in small towns. Their keepsakes from Routt County are a bit larger, taking the form of small-town real estate.
The Minnesota couple, who has worked in real estate for almost 40 years, were overseeing renovation of a motel they purchased in 2017 in Redstone, when a friend encouraged them to stop in Oak Creek on their motorcycle ride to Steamboat Springs. Tony has been riding Harleys from Minnesota to Steamboat Springs since 1976, putting more than 400,000 miles on his Road Glide Harleys throughout his road trips in the Rocky Mountains.
During that Routt County visit in 2018, the couple stopped to chat with a local real estate agent who had just listed the former Oak Creek Motel. The couple purchased the 1960s motel and adjacent owner’s home and began refurbishments and a business plan for The Lodges of Oak Creek.
This week, the first guests checked in at the new copper-topped cottages at The Lodges of Oak Creek, 406 Willow Bend. The shiny roofs of the small cottages near the waters of Oak Creek and nearby Decker Park can be seen by travelers driving on Colorado Highway 131.
The couple, who also have invested in Pine Bluff, Wyoming, said they enjoy the friendly, eclectic vibe in Oak Creek and have made good friends in town.
“We’ve met some really, really good people there and good business owners we’ve worked with,” Patti said. “We’ve had a really good experience so far.”
While working on the motel update, the Dresses were asked to buy and renovate the former Elk’s Tavern in downtown Oak Creek. In 2021, they sold the bar, now called the Oak Creek Tavern.
Although they hired local managers, the Dresses are often hands-on investors. Patti stayed in Oak Creek recently to unbox and install furniture in the new cottages, and Tony is in town this week for business duties and, of course, motorcycle rides.
During their time in Oak Creek, the Dresses heard from locals about the need for affordable housing and longer-term visitor accommodations. After modernizing the one-story, 10-room motel, the couple added 19 RV spots around the motel to create a “park-model RV community” for local workers living in small travel trailers.
Then they turned to ordering prefabricated cottages.
“Originally, we were going to sell all of (the cottages), but we wanted owner-occupied units only,” Patti said. “We were also getting calls and inquiries about rentals. We also had a big demand from the hotel for more rooms, so we decided to keep some of (the cottages) for more hotel space.”
In January 2021, the business owners and investors placed nine cottages on order from Platinum Cottages in Texas. After some pandemic supply-chain delays, the cottages were shipped and installed three at a time in July and October 2021 and in May.
“We didn’t want to do mobile homes, but we loved the idea of the park-models because we thought that people would love them for a vacation cottage for fishing at Stagecoach or visiting to ski in Steamboat,” Patti said.
Connecting to the needs of Oak Creek, the cottages have a variety of rental and purchase options. The 399-square-foot cottages range from three-night rentals, to monthly rentals, to six- to 12-month furnished rentals for local workers, to unfurnished units for sale at a purchase price of $109,000 to $129,000. A cottage purchaser would pay a $600 monthly lot fee, plus utilities. The cottages include a small kitchen, bathroom, downstairs back bedroom, front porch and loft bedroom with a 4.5-foot ceiling.
“With the workforce, the costs and the needs, you’ve got to be creative to make something work,” Tony said. “The town of Oak Creek has been very supportive and helpful.”
The business owners have eight more cottages on order for another section of the property with delivery expected in 2023.
Although the cottages are built on wheels similar to mobile tiny homes, the Dresses are not looking to become a cottage resale business and don’t like the term tiny homes, which they associate with smaller, cramped living spaces.
This spring, the owners hired onsite managers Maggie Crulo and Martin Carney, a married couple expecting their first baby. The couple also works remotely for the online school Colorado Early Colleges in instruction and administration.
Landscaping at the park-model RV community and motel will begin in July. For more information on the Oak Creek property, visit: TheLodgesOfOakCreek.com.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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