Hayden Stefanus Nijsten doesn’t see Hayden as a bedroom community for Steamboat Springs and Craig. Instead, he sees potential.
That potential, Nijsten said, includes growth, new business, more jobs and increased revenue for the town. And the catalyst, Nijsten said, is the development of a hotel in Hayden.
Using a $10,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant — with a $250 match each from Hayden and Rural Development Colorado, the company Nijsten runs with his brother, Louis, and partner Robert Zibell — the town commissioned a market study to investigate the viability of a hotel in Hayden.
Nijsten said the study indicated there is demand for a hotel in Hayden.
He said the three “main demand generators” that would support a hotel are Yampa Valley Regional Airport, the Hayden Station Power Plant and Peabody Coal Mine.
Nijsten said “secondary demand generators” include hunting and fishing, the Yampa River, Elkhead Reservoir, Hayden Speedway, Triple Crown Baseball tournaments, Routt County Fairgrounds, California Park and even bird watching.
“Not only does it enable the town to grow its tourism industry, it’s a basic service for the town for people who want to move here or locate a business here,” Nijsten said. “Plus it will generate revenue — hotel and lodging taxes for the town.”
He added, “I think when it gets to a point where there is enough service infrastructure, I think it will become clear how attractive of a place this is.”
According to the study, conducted by HVS Consulting and Valuation Service, of Louisville, a 50-room hotel would have an average occupancy rate of 54 percent.
The study uses the Best Western brand, located on the 0.8 acres on the Nijsten’s Creek View Townhomes and Plaza property at Fifth Street and West Jefferson Avenue. The study also assumes the hotel would open July 1, 2012.
Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said in the past when developers approached the town with questions about whether a hotel would work, he couldn’t provide an answer.
“This is a concrete demonstration of what the market is. That didn’t exist before,” he said. “That was frankly a hurdle we couldn’t get over with any conversation with respect to lodging.”
Rodney McGowen, chairman of the Hayden Economic Development Commission, said a hotel has long been a discussion in town.
“Just having people in Hayden will hopefully get people to spend some money and time, and hopefully fall in love with it like most of us have,” he said. “When you get people in town, you know, they may see what we have to offer and may like it.”
Martin said Hayden’s growth hinges on a hotel. He called it a turning point, a way to demonstrate to those interested in having events in Hayden that the town could host its visitors. He said Hayden isn’t getting ahead of itself.
“All of this is on a relative scale, don’t get me wrong,” Martin said. “We’re not going to become Silverthorne tomorrow. The reality of that is a certain level of (lodging) is necessary to do anything. … It’s the linchpin, right now; we need to be able to turn the corner.”
Nijsten said Rural Development Colorado has the site, the research to support the viability of the project, and a plan. He just needs investors. But, Nijsten said, the advantage of having a public study was its availability for anyone to use.
“We’re just trying to get a hotel in Hayden,” he said. “If someone runs with it, or has a better idea and can do it quicker than us, that’s fine because it’s good for Hayden. For us, it’s good because we’re heavily invested in this town.”