by Meg Soyars
In an era of desperation for affordable housing in West Grand, a positive development has finally come to light. This fall, employees of Colorado Timber Resources (CTR) will be able to call Kremmling home.
“It was a great move for us and something that was needed,” said Dave Fiala, one of the owners of CTR. The Parshall-based mill harvests lodgepole pine to sell lumber products nationally and locally. “When we attract a person to work for us
from outside the area, [housing] is one of their first questions,” Fiala continued. “They say, ‘I know housing’s difficult. Where can I stay for a month or two while I find a place; where can I lay my head?’”
Over the past year, the owners of CTR had been searching for affordable accommodations in Grand County for their staff, making employment with their mill viable long-term. They finally chose Kremmling’s former motel, Bob’s Western, as their home base for several reasons. “This community has been very supportive of corporate housing and of us improving the look of [the motel],” Fiala said thankfully.
Although Bob’s Western has needed upgrades since its closure, CTR saw great potential in the building. Most importantly, it offered plenty of rooms for their staff. CTR has approximately 30 employees and operates year-round, so purchasing the entire property was their best choice for stable housing.
now own the section on the property’s north side, which includes a house and 2 buildings.
“There are 18 motel units that range from 1-2 bedrooms, and the house is a 3-4 bedroom/2 bath,” Fiala said. “The house will be rented out to a family. The motel rooms we’ll rent out to individuals or couples.” The units are set up as a typical motel room, with a bedroom/living area and a bathroom in each unit. Some are single rooms and others are suites that could accommodate two people. The units can be used as transitional lodging for those seeking their own housing, or employees can live there long-term if needed.
Some units require upgrades and will not be available until the end of summer. “We’re planning on doing some remodeling,” Fiala said.
He predicts that the entire remodeling process will take 2-3 months. “It just needs a little face-lift. There will be new insulation, new windows, and siding.” They will also add a new roof on one of the units and upgrade the electrical wiring, along with remodeling the interiors of some of the rooms. Last but not least, CTR will build a shared kitchen area for the staff.
“We plan to improve it to give it a positive look for the community,” Fiala added. He also plans to retain the motel’s vintage, iconic signage. “I would love to redo the sign and make it new but still keep the original look; it’s a neat sign,” he said.
According to Fiala, demand for the rooms has been high. The house has already been spoken for by current employees, as well as the
available motel rooms. CTR has not yet advertised publicly that they are offering workforce housing since they are retaining rooms for current staff and don’t want to be overwhelmed. “Before we had even closed the deal, people were wanting to move in,” Fiala said.
“We could have filled up the motel twice!”
He added, however, that CTR’s development of workforce housing will not end with Bob’s Western. This is only their first step in creating sustainable housing for community members. “We would love to continue to develop affordable housing, not just for our company, but for the community,” Fiala affirmed. “It’s absolutely needed for businesses here.” This is a welcome change for the resort community, which sees million-dollar properties being built by part-time residents or investors, often at the expense of those who call Grand County home. A Granby resident, Fiala stated he’s seen the impact of the housing crisis on local businesses, especially over
the last 4-5 months. “This is what you get with a ski community,” he said. “It’s truly affecting employee availability. A lot of stores are having a hard time finding staff and are closed down half the time.”
Fortunately, CTR’s purchase of Bob’s Western will lay the groundwork for more housing to benefit employees. CTR plans to look at properties in West Grand for future affordable housing developments. Ideally, CTR would like to purchase land and build a property on it themselves. They plan to stay local so that residents can enjoy a short commute to their job. “People don’t want to travel. In Denver, people might travel an hour [for work], but people here want to stay close.
I don’t blame them,” Fiala said. In East Grand, affordable housing developments are also breaking ground, with the planning of Winter Park’s Hideaway Junction and the apartment complex Fireside Creek.
Perhaps a sea-change is taking place to offset the development of second homes. “In some ways, it’s a love-hate relationship,” Fiala said of the give-and-take between second-home owners who spend money here, and locals who live here. “There’s a balance between supporting your community and bringing in revenue, while also creating a place for people who work here full-time to live and have a family,” Fiala explained. Workforce housing like Bob’s Western will finally give both current and future employees of Colorado Timber Resources a chance to build a life in Kremmling.
CTR’s goal is sustainability and economic growth through careful forest management and providing stable jobs in the community.
The following positions are open: millwright, heavy equipment mechanic, log loader operator, green chain handler, dry chain handler, & electrician. To learn more about Colorado Timber Resources, or to apply for employment,
please visit coloradotr.com.