Planning Commission approves employee housing development |

Planning Commission approves employee housing development

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission approved a two-story workforce housing structure planned to be built adjacent to the La Quinta Inn.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission unanimously approved a two-story workforce housing structure on the south side of the La Quinta Inn on Ingles Drive during a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22.

During the same meeting, Resort Group successfully received a conditional use change for the Inn at Steamboat on Columbine Drive, which the company bought in April and has been renting out to the company’s employees. 

Owners of the La Quinta submitted a development plan to the planning commission to build two workforce housing units within the same structure — a 530-square-foot unit in the first floor and a 624-square-foot unit on the second —  totaling 1,154 square feet. 

For the members of the planning commission, the project was a layup approval. The property is zoned community commercial, which allows for workforce, deed-restricted use, and the proposed building would be close enough to existing sidewalks and utilities that additional infrastructure would be unnecessary. 

“Owners of La Quinta find it necessary to house their employees,” said Scott Myller, the project’s architect. “I think they should be commended for keeping this as a hotel, we’ve seen a lot of hotels get changed to long-term rentals and I think it’s important to keep hotels in our community.”

After La Quinta’s development plan was approved, the Resort Group presented to the planning Commission requesting their conditional use for the Inn at Steamboat be changed from multi-family to dormitory housing. 

The Inn at Steamboat closed its doors Sunday April 10, 2022. It was purchased by Resort Group and will be used as employee housing.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

While the Resort Group has been renting out the 34 rooms at the inn since it was bought in April, the owners believed it was appropriate to change its conditional use to dormitory because the individual rooms don’t have kitchens, and because the property will be renting to both seasonal and long-term tenants.

“Affordable hotels in Steamboat seems to be a thing of the past,” Steamboat local John Reese wrote to the planning commission. “I realize the need for housing for service staffs is needed but this proposal fixes one problem and creates another.”

Mark Walker, the president of the Resort Group, presented to planning commission and argued on his company’s behalf. 

“Short-term rentals is the business that I am in,” Walker said. “Ironically, there’s a lot of community feedback that they don’t want short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.” 

Walker said he was then caught off guard by people saying they don’t want long-term tenants staying at the Inn at Steamboat because it may decrease their property value. 

“We stepped up in a big way, from my opinion and a lot of the business people I talked to, to help solve our employee housing crisis,” Walker said. 

The Inn at Steamboat is comprised of 31 single-bedroom units and three two-bedroom suites. The single bedrooms would have a maximum occupancy of two while the suites would allow 4 tenants, making the total occupancy of the building limited to 74 people. 

Though no substantive improvements were needed, the applicants were required to add a few bike racks. 

While some of the planning commissioners admitted to having reservations, they all supported the applicant’s request. 

Commission member Robert Rusher Jr. asked to clarify whether there would be on-site staff to manage the property, which the applicant assured there was. 

“That’s why I had the questions about management,” Rusher Jr. said. “to make sure that it’s just not a dormitory-run-amok kind of thing in the middle of the neighborhood.” 

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