The requested resource (/media/ksut/header/pb/header.html) is not available
Last updated 4:45AM ET
December 17, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Durango Asked to Partner in $72M Project
(2008-09-10)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: The City of Durango is being asked to partner in a proposed 72-million dollar, 265-thousand square foot downtown Hotel-Conference Center development.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

HARPER: ALL OF US DREAM ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING THINGS IN OUR LIFE, GREAT THINGS.
Durango and Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad Owner Al Harper calls his dream Railroad Square.
He's teamed up with local developer Karen Langhart to propose building a 220 room luxury hotel next to a Conference Center capable of hosting events for 500 or more on land immediately west of the train depot.
Total cost, 72-million dollars.
And Harper says the time to move on the dream is now, while interest rates and material costs are low and contractors are looking for work.
HARPER: RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A WINDOW, IT'S A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY AND IN SOME WAYS IT'S A WINDOW FOR GREATNESS FOR THE COMMUNITY.
Harper and Langhart will personally finance the project.
But they are asking the city to commit by Tuesday to sell at an appraised value, land the city owns on the property which would be used for the convention center.
As an alternative, they are also suggesting instead of buying the land from the city, they would develop the city parking structure inside the now under construction transit center two blocks away, taking advantage of the economies of doing both projects simultaneously.
And, they are asking that approvals for the project be expedited so they can break ground in January, with an expected completionin September 2010.
HARPER: IT'S A JOB CREATOR, THIS COMMUNITY NEEDS JOB CREATION, IT'S A JOB CREATOR DURING CONSTRUCTION, IT'S A JOB CREATOR WHEN THAT HOTEL'S UP THERE. WE HAVE NEED FOR HOTEL ROOMS, WE ARE ALREADY HAVING EVENTS, PEOPLE STAYING IN CORTEZ TO COME TO A DURANGO EVENT.
Harper and Langhart would commit to retain the hotel/conference center for at least ten years.
It's estimated the hotel and conference center could generate three quarters of a million dollars per year in additional sales and lodgers tax for the city.
While all five councilors present expressed interest in their plan, several expressed concerns about rushing the project.
Mayor Renee Parsons called it unrealitsic.
PARSONS: I THINK YOU'VE GOT A GREAT IDEA, BUT I'M JUST SOMEBODY WHO'S GOT TO CROSS THE T'S AND DOT THE I'S AND I DON'T WANT TO SEE ANYTHING OF THIS MAGNITUDE FAST TRACKED.
Councilor Doug Lyon says their timetable may not be feasible:
LYON: IT LOOKS TO ME MORE LIKE THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, DESIGN ANALYSIS, TRAFFIC ANALYSIS, STAFF REVIEWING ALL THAT STUFF, GETTING BACK TO YOU, NEGOTIATING HOW IT ALL WORKS, THOSE ARE HUGE PROCESSES.
Councilor Michael Rendon was also cautious but optimistic.
RENDON: YOU GUYS ARE OFFERING A GREAT ASSET TO THE COMMUNITY, AND IF I'M READING IT RIGHT YOU GUYS ARE TAKING MOST OF THE RISK AND THE COMMUNITY GETS MOST OF THE BENEFIT. I'D HATE TO LOOK BACK TEN YEARS FROM NOW AND SAY WELL...WE MISSED OUR OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A COOL CONFERENCE CENTER.
Harper countered:
HARPER: IT'S NOT TRYING TO RUSH YOU. NOTE I NEVER SAID FAST TRACK, I NEVER SAID I WANTED YOU TO DO SOMETHING UNUSUAL, I NEVER SAID CUT OUT ANY INPUT, I WANT IT ALL. ALL'S I'M SAYING IS USE THE MOST EFFICIENT PROCESS POSSIBLE SO WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS WINDOW.
Council directed city staff to report back on necessary approvals and other actions needed to make Railroad Square happen.
Harper concluded his presentation to councilors with a quote:
HARPER: A QUOTE ABOUT IF YOU HAVE A DREAM AND YOU'RE NOT A LITTLE BIT AFRAID, YOUR DREAM ISN'T BIG ENOUGH. WELL I'VE GOT PLENTY OF FEARS SO THIS DREAM IS REALLY BIG.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
© Copyright 2017, ksut