Council votes to sell Iron Horse
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday voted to sell the Iron Horse Inn for $3.05 million to a pair of buyers who say they intend to soon lease a number of its rooms to some of the city’s biggest employers that have been desperately seeking workforce housing.
Immediately following council’s vote, buyers Jon Sanders and Brandon Dardanis, of Ski Town Commercial, met with Sheraton Steamboat Resort General Manager Dan Pirrallo in the front entrance of Citizens Hall as the council meeting continued.
The Sheraton recently rented from the city the entire hotel portion of the Iron Horse for its seasonal employees,
The buyers of the Iron Horse said they plan to renovate the property and add more density for workforce housing.
The purchase price includes a $400,000 escrow the city will be able to use to add public improvements to the property.
“It’s time for the city to exit this building,” Council President Bart Kounovsky said. “We can look forward to other partnerships to support workforce housing.”
Councilman Walter Magill suggested the city could use some of the proceeds of the sale to support efforts by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
Councilman Tony Connell said the proceeds could be used to help reduce the debt payments on the property and position the city to take advantage of other potential affordable housing opportunities in the future.
Councilwoman Sonja Macys again opposed the sale and sought to add terms to the contract that would have required the buyers to stick to their plan of offering attainable housing to local workers.
There are no deed restrictions in the sale contract the council approved.
“If we actually want to see this thing be workforce housing, we need to put it in the contract,” Macys said.
The majority of the council didn’t feel such a requirement was necessary.
Sanders and Dardanis sought to ease concerns they would not follow through with their plan, by assuring the council and the public they plan to secure lease contracts with some of the largest employers in town, and the terms of the leases average three years.
Sanders and Dardanis also touted their years of experience in renovating and managing apartment complexes.
Council’s final approval came after two community members expressed skepticism about the sale.
Catherine Carson said the public process leading up to the sale had been lacking, and she urged the council to have a public hearing dedicated to discussing the best use of the property.
Rich Levy suggested now might not be the best time to sell the property.
“It’s possible this is not the high point in terms of a sale,” Levy said.
A city council in 2007 issued $5.3 million in debt to purchase and renovate the Iron Horse to provide workforce housing for city employees and other local workers.
The city still owes $4.9 million on the property and will pay about $475,000 annually on it through 2032, unless it chooses to refinance or pay off the debt in 2018 for $4.3 million.
The sale contract cannot be signed until 30 days after council’s vote to give the public an opportunity to petition the sale and force a public vote.
The council received eight bids for the Iron Horse and considered them all in executive sessions.
Council members said they picked the highest offer.
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