Home Page

Need for right of way spurs CDOT demolition of former hotel off 8th and Cimarron

A trackhoe attacks a one-time hotel room during the first day of the demolition project on the state-owned, former Express Inn southeast of Eighth Street and Highway 24/Cimarron Street.
Westside Pioneer photo
Celebrity sledgehammer work to kick off the Express Inn demolition turned out to be more than cosmetic Nov. 24, which delights a slightly winded County Commissioner Sallie Clark. With temperatures in the 20s, other officials swinging sledgehammers for the kick-off event were District 3 City Councilmember Keith King, City Chief of Staff Steve Cox and CDOT engineers Dave Watt and Doug Lollar.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Demolition has started on the former Express Inn at Highway 24 (Cimarron Street) and Eighth Street.
       Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Resident Engineer Dave Watt predicted in a press release that tearing down the two-story, 207-room structure would take “several weeks.”
       CDOT has owned the 4.63-acre site since December 2012. The hotel itself closed the year before.
       Following months of preparation that included relocating a sewer line and removing asbestos, the project was lauded by both state and city officials, because it's eliminating a deteriorating building termed an “eyesore.” Another pre-demo problem, according to police, has been transients camping out, even though CDOT has maintained a fence around the site, and the fronts and backs of the rooms had been previously removed.
       “Not only was it an eyesore, it had become a public safety issue,” commented Colorado Springs Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager.
       “This is something we've been working toward for a long time and we know the community will not be sorry to see it go,” Watt said. Once the demolition is complete and the rubble removed, the ground will be revegetated, he has previously pledged.
       “This area is an important area for travelers heading into the mountains west of Colorado Springs and into downtown,” County Commissioner Sallie Clark said. “This is a gateway where many visitors get their first impression of El Paso County. I drive through this intersection almost every day and know it's a relief to the neighborhood to see this eyesore being removed."
       The state has no plans to build on the site. CDOT bought it as right of way for a major Cimarron/Eighth Street upgrade, as outlined in the Envision 24 West study that was completed two years ago. No such work is scheduled or funded yet.
       In the short term, part of the property “will likely be used as an equipment staging area” for the construction of a new interchange at nearby Cimarron and I- 25, Watt said. Organized by CDOT, that project is fully funded and expected to start this spring or summer.
       Only the Express Inn is being razed at this time. Unaffected for now is the neighboring, privately owned Acorn gas station/convenience store at the intersection's southeast corner, although state plans show that half-acre site also being removed for the future Cimarron/Eighth Street project.
       Another large parcel that CDOT has targeted for eventual Cimarron/Eighth Street right of way purchase is the 37,000-square-foot, roughly 25-unit Colorado Place strip center (which includes the freestanding La Casita restaurant) on the southwest side of the intersection.
       In May 2013, Watt had predicted the Express Inn demolition would occur that summer. However, the preparation activities took longer than anticipated, he has explained at different times since then.
       Overall, according to Watt, the demolition price tage will end up at about $340,000 - including $250,000 for the asbestos removal.
       Originally a Holiday Inn built in the mid-'60s, the building had once been a popular and strategically located stopping place for travelers, and was sometimes even used for local business meetings and press conferences. But the property eventually changed hands and fell into decline. In its final years as the Express Inn, it was leased by an agency that dedicated about half of the rooms to tenants trying to rise from homelessness. However, the out-of-state property owners did not keep up with mortgage payments or repairs, and a court order closed the hotel in May 2011.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 11/25/14; Transportation: Cimarron/I-25)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)