Hayden Council to decide fate of century-old building Thursday | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden Council to decide fate of century-old building Thursday

On Thursday, April 7, 2022, Hayden Town Council is scheduled to decide whether to renovate the building at 135 South Walnut St. or whether to tear it down and rebuild on the property.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Hayden Town Council is expected to decide Thursday, April 7, whether to tear down one of the oldest buildings in town.

Council delayed a decision on the fate of the century-old building in February, but has decided against selling the property at 135 S. Walnut St. outright.

Two options before council at Thursday’s meeting will be whether to renovate the building or demolish it and start fresh on the town-owned property. Town staff has recommended the latter option.

“While a strong argument can be made for the preservation of Hayden’s historic downtown, per the Hayden Master Plan, ultimately, the town’s core value of fiscal responsibility must be at the core of all staff recommendations,” staff wrote in documents outlining council’s decision.

Despite the recommendation, some Hayden residents are pushing town council to preserve the building, which was part of the town’s original plat and built between 1894 and 1896, according to the Hayden Heritage Center.

“This isn’t just any building; this is the oldest building in town,” said Patrick Delaney, a Hayden resident and member of the Friends of 135 Walnut group, which is advocating for preserving the building. “Not many of these buildings have survived to today, and that alone makes it valuable.”

The building has hosted some notable Hayden residents over the years including local entrepreneur James L. Norvell and pioneer Ferrington “Ferry” Carpenter. A blog post from the Hayden Heritage Center details a deadly gunfight — one of the first in Hayden — over either a game of cards or dice that happened just outside the building when it was a saloon around 1900.

In 1912, the building became home to the Yampa Valley Bank, which played an important role in the growth and economic stability of Hayden. Since then, the building has housed a bowling alley, theater, pool hall, furniture store and restaurant, among other businesses.

“Really, what this boils down to is you can’t replicate authenticity,” Delaney said. “Once that authenticity is gone, it’s gone.”

The option to rebuild would have the existing building torn down and replaced with a one-story structure serving as a business accelerator and co-working space. Initial discussions had included affordable housing units, but they are no longer part of the plan.

The demolition work would start in June. There would be final designs for the new structure in August, and the entire project would be completed by next summer. Using a commercial space-construction estimate of $500 per square foot, town staff put the price tag for a new 2,300-square-foot building at about $1.3 million.

The town already has some grant funding, and staff believes there could be other opportunities, such as congressionally directed spending, which the town received for work on the Hayden Center.

In comparison, the historic renovation would produce a smaller space and cost more. Delaney said those advocating for preserving the building care mainly about the roughly 1,700-square-foot front portion, which is the oldest part of the building.

Staff estimated the cost of renovating the building at about $625 a square foot, plus other design and utilities expenses. In all, renovating is expected to cost about $70,000 more than tearing the building down and rebuilding it. Also, town staff has not been able to find a local contractor that could complete this work.

The timeline could also be longer with a historical renovation, as staff estimated it could take anywhere from two to six years to complete depending on funding.

The board is scheduled to make a decision during its meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hayden Town Hall.

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