Proposed sale of downtown emergency services building hits new snag | SteamboatToday.com

Proposed sale of downtown emergency services building hits new snag

The higher than expected cost of converting the Iron Horse Inn into a temporary police station is expected to delay the city's proposed sale of its downtown public safety building.

— The proposed sale of Steamboat Springs’ downtown public safety building could be delayed by more than a year because the city has learned it will cost a lot more than originally thought to temporarily house its police force in the Iron Horse Inn, or any other building.

Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Sunday the city didn’t learn until Friday morning that it would cost nearly $900,000 more than it anticipated to establish a temporary police station at the now-vacant hotel while a new police station is built.

As a result, Hinsvark said the city will "go back to the negotiating drawing board" with the two bidders for the property and seek to postpone the closing date of any sale of 840 Yampa St. for a minimum of 20 months — until a new police station can be built.

"It threw an absolute wrench into the works," Hinsvark said about the updated cost estimate for a temporary police headquarters at the aging Iron Horse. "We can’t do an interim move at that cost. Now, we have to figure out how to build police and fire stations while we work with one of our property bidders to postpone a sale."

When the council approved the first reading of the sale of 840 Yampa St. to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger in December, city officials estimated the cost to renovate the shuttered hotel into a temporary police headquarters to be $113,000.

The updated cost is nearly $1 million.

"The maintenance costs and remodel costs for repurposing the Iron Horse Inn for temporary police quarters encountered unanticipated obstacles," Public Safety Director Joel Rae wrote in a memo to the council included in Tuesday’s meeting agenda packet.

He said the city would have to bring the aging building up to an "Essential Building" standard by strengthening the floors to hold 35 more pounds of weight per square foot.

Hinsvark said the new building standard stems from a building code the city adopted about two months ago.

"We only intended to do some quick remodeling to move our police department into the hotel," Hinsvark said. "Every time we put the Iron Horse into this equation, it hasn’t worked out well."

In September, the city proposed razing the hotel and replacing it with a new 15,000-square-foot police station, but the proposal was rejected by the City Council.

BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger are now bidding for the city’s downtown public safety building along with developer Steve Shelesky.

Before Shelesky recently made a bid for the property for $2.165 million, the council approved the first reading of the sale of the building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million.

Under that sales contract, the buyers would have moved into the top story of the building sometime this spring and allowed the city to lease back the fire station bays below for 18 months.

But the second and final reading of the sales contract has now been postponed twice to give city staff more time to finalize the plans to build new fire and police stations.

Hinsvark said she recently spoke with BAP owner Bill Gamber to discuss the delay of the proposed sale.

"What Bill and I both know is it makes sense to have them on Yampa Street, and if we can work this out we will," Hinsvark said. "Mr. Gamber is very much a player in this. He’s a partner. We’ll work it out if we can. And if we can’t, we’ll do something different."

The latest options

In addition to holding an executive session Tuesday night to review Shelesky’s bid, the City Council will hear the city’s latest options to construct new police and fire stations.

The options include building a combined public safety campus at the Stock Bridge Transit Center for nearly $12 million, building a police station on the Paoli property near Emerald Park and a fire station at Stock Bridge for an estimated $13 million, or building just a police station on the Paoli property for $7.7 million.

The projects would be paid for by a combination of the city’s unallocated reserves, revenue from the sale of the current downtown emergency services building ($2.1 million), potential DOLA and Energy Impact grants, and money from cost sharing with the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District.

Hinsvark said despite the latest snag in the plan to relocate emergency services off Yampa Street, building a new police station remains a top priority for the city.

"I am not the person with all the ideas or answers, but there are a lot of really smart people working on this," she said. "The answer is there, and I think the final project will come together with council’s help.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com