Fire not cause for Express Inn demo delay

       The state's demolition of the former Express Inn, has been delayed, but not because of the fire Oct. 15 that was apparently set accidentally by transient trepassers.
       According to Sunny Smaldino of the City Fire Department, the blaze started in one of the boarded-up hotel buildings - the result of unknown persons evidently getting in and “using a bathtub as a fireplace.” But the damage was minimal and the building was not lost as a result, she elaborated.
       Dave Watt, the area's resident engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), confirmed that the fire had no effect on the planned demolition.
       However, the work, now expected in November, has taken several months longer than originally foreseen. In an interview last May, Watt had opined that the state would begin tearing down the 207-room complex before July. However, asbestos had to be removed, and this work “took longer than anticipated and cost more than estimated,” he explained in a follow-up interview earlier this month, adding a prediction then that the work would start in late October or early November, once a demolition contractor was selected from a bidding process.
       In the most recent interviews (this week), Watt explained that the contractor selection is not yet done, but is in its “final stages.” Commenting that “the schedule slipped a little,” he noted that no specific demolition dates are slated yet. However, the CDOT staffer working on the matter is “very confident” that the buildings will come down sometime in November, he added.
       The Express Inn has been closed since 2011.
       CDOT had purchased the five-acre property at 725 W. Cimarron St. earlier this year, as an offshoot of a multiyear study that showed part of the site being needed as right of way for a future interchange at the Cimarron/Highway 24 intersection with Eighth Street. No funding exists yet for that project.
       Although the effect could be a few years with the land lying empty (after the demolition), Watt said he believes the state got a better price, based on fair market value, in buying the land in an inactive condition, than otherwise. Also, he said, the land could “possibly” be used as a staging area when the Cimarron/I-25 interchange construction begins, probably in 2015.

Westside Pioneer article