The Iron Horse Inn may find new life as student housing for Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.
College leaders are in negotiations with city planning officials to use one of the two buildings in the city-owned hotel for student housing during the next school year.
Although no contract has been agreed upon, CMC Assistant Campus Dean of Student Services Brian Hoza said he hopes to negotiate a deal that will allow the price for housing at Iron Horse to remain about the same as regular student rates on campus.
Students pay between $400 and $450 a month on campus.
"We're continuing conversations. ... We think it's highly likely that we're going to be able to use the facility," he said. "We have a number of things to work through, in terms of details, to make sure we're thinking ahead of the kinds of things to have in place."
Hoza said the college would not be able to charge enough in rent to cover the cost of renovations and staffing at the dorm. CMC would cover the remainder of the costs, he said.
Anne Small, the city's purchasing, contracts and risk manager, said she anticipates the deal could be in place by Aug. 1. Steamboat Springs City Council first would have to approve the deal.
Each year, CMC houses about 230 students, but an additional 40 to 60 students are turned down on housing applications. Some find other accommodations in town, but many are referred to other CMC campuses across the state. Hoza said the number of deterred students is even greater than that amount because some students may choose not to apply because of housing restrictions.
The students housed in the 25 rooms in the Iron Horse would likely be returning students, non-traditional students or other students who have had experience in college and living away from home, Hoza said, reserving the on-campus housing for freshmen.
The agreement is planned tentatively as a one-year lease with an option of renewal. Hoza said the length of the rental term each year may be for the whole year or may extend only for the nine to 10 months school is in session.
Of the two buildings at Iron Horse Inn, CMC is interested only in the newer building, to the south.
The hotel is on the Steamboat Springs Transit bus line with a connection to the college campus. Hoza said the city and CMC would renovate the rooms before students move in. That would include new beds, desks and chairs. The city also would provide a certificate of occupancy to verify a bedbug infestation discovered in February was completely removed.
"They want to present it to us with a certified seal of health and it's ready for occupancy, and they're working with some other companies to make sure that's the case," Hoza said.
The city purchased the Iron Horse Inn late in 2007 for $4.05 million.
Mountain Resort Realty, a division of Resort Group, ceased operations of the building in February and moved employees to other sites. The hotel has remained without management since that time.
In August, the city looked into hiring companies to redevelop the site and received interest from nine responses.