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A view of the front facade of the recently opened Holiday Inn Express (along with parking lot improvements and plantings) at 105 N. Spruce St.
Westside Pioneer photo

A different kind of 'human services' - hotel opens in former county welfare building

ABOVE: After going through a process of demolition and interior gutting, the building at 105 N. Spruce St. is shown in 2013 as it awaited renovations to turn it into a hotel. BELOW: The same structure a year earlier, still with the facade that existed when the site was used as the El Paso County welfare office.
Westside Pioneer file photos
       The transformation is complete for the four-story building at 105 N. Spruce St. that housed El Paso County social services for nearly 40 years.
       After extensive renovations lasting about a year and a half and costing roughly $4 million, the site reopened this spring as a Holiday Inn Express.
       The facility has 80 rooms, 20 of them larger, “apartment-sized” suites that have upper-floor views of the mountains, according to Jerome Hopkins, general manager.
       General amenities include a swimming pool and hot tub, fitness center, conference rooms, a complimentary shuttle service and digital technology that enhances Internet access

as well as room security. No smoking is allowed. A large, high-ceiling lobby greets guests. The location is just off the Bijou Street exit from I-25.
       The redevelopment was the vision of Ted Jarosz, leading a family partnership that since 2004 has owned the Clarion Hotel a block away on Bijou.
       The plan was revealed to the public in January 2012. That was when the county announced it was selling the building to Jarosz for $2.4 million and that he was seeking to have the site become an "upscale" franchise for a major hotel chain.
       “I look at that building every day,” he said in an interview then with the Westside Pioneer, when asked what sparked his idea. “It spoke to me that it would be a good building for a hotel, that it would be a good project. It is well built, made of concrete and steel, and has good visibility.”
       From 1972 until 2011, the building at 105 N. Spruce had been used by El Paso County for its Department of Human Services (DHS) offices, processing an average of 500 people a day. The DHS relocated in mid-2011 to the then-recently opened Citizens Service Center at 1675 West Garden of the Gods Road.

A view inside one of the 20 suites offered in the 80-room Holiday Inn Express on Spruce Street shows the size of the room and some of the amenities.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Hopkins believes that the hotel is already having a positive influence on the surrounding neighborhood (sometimes known as the Near Westside). “I think with the hotel here, you're going to see a good revitalization in this area,” he said.
       In agreement is County Commissioner Sallie Clark, also a Westside resident and business owner. “It's really exciting to see the revitalization take place,” she said. “I'm very impressed with how it looks and the usage. It's something the Westside can be proud of.”
       On top of that she said, the 2 ˝-acre property is now back on the tax rolls, providing revenues from property, lodging and sales taxes.
       The renovation gutted the old building interior, including cutting out exterior walls to allow customized windows for the hotel rooms.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 6/20/14; Business: Changes)

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