Site of burned-down Royal Hotel donated to Yampa
Routt County took over ownership of property to receive grants for asbestos cleanup after 2015 fire
Routt County on Tuesday donated the land where the historic Royal Hotel once sat — before it burned to the ground in 2015 — to the town of Yampa.
The 1/5-acre parcel is on the main drag through Yampa and has been an eyesore for the town since it burned. Routt County has tried to sell the land, but never received a worthwhile bid.
“Overtime, we came to the conclusion that it made more sense for Yampa to be the ones to decide what’s in their best interest,” said Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who lives just outside Yampa.
Built in 1906, the Royal Hotel was still a functioning hotel and full-time residence when it caught fire Jan. 3, 2015. It had also served as a mercantile store, a coffee shop and a bar, but now just remains a hole on Moffat Avenue.
Shortly after it burned, Corrigan said the then-owner started to clean it up, before someone in town raised the prospect of the building containing asbestos. Corrigan said this led to the county having someone from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment check it out. It tested positive for the dangerous material.
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Corrigan recalled that the owner of the Royal didn’t have the money to do the asbestos mitigation work that would be required.
The county learned of a brownfield cleanup program through the state health department that could cover all the costs of asbestos mitigation, but the grant required the land to be owned by a government entity.
Routt County purchased the land for $3,000 and obtained the grant, and then paid $178,000 in mitigation costs. Corrigan said the county also devoted significant staff time to clean up the property.
This required excavating the entire property to a depth of about 4 feet. Realizing the county would need to prevent any accidents, it purchased fencing, which was also considered an eyesore. In recent years, the hole has been filled in, but the parcel remained unused.
Routt County Purchasing Agent Julie Kennedy said in 2018 the county offered the property for sale by auction with a minimum bid of $60,000, but a bid was never received. This year the county has received two bids, one for $15,000 and the other for $20,000, but rejected both.
Yampa Town Clerk Sheila Symons said Yampa Town Council is excited about the county donating the land, adding that they will discuss the future of the site at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 1.
“We’ve had quite a bit of interest of people wanting to rebuild the Royal (Hotel) or do other things,” Symons said.
Whatever does happen at the site, Symons said many people have stressed that a new building would need to fit in with the character and historic look of Yampa’s older buildings and not like those found in Steamboat Springs.
“We don’t want this dramatic, big metal building or anything,” Symons said.
Symons stressed that the town does not have a plan for how they will proceed with the property, but one possibility is that someone else would buy the land from the town to build something the council approves. The hope is that whatever goes there could provide both property and sales taxes for Yampa.
Having just moved to Colorado when the Royal burned, Symons said she never got to see the former hotel “in its full glory.”
“I understand from all the people around here that it was a pretty amazing gathering spot,” Symons said. “It’d be cool if they could rebuild something like that.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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