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Glenwood employer gets creative with housing

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The difficult part of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owner, Steve Beckley’s job, is two-fold: Finding employees, and finding those employees an affordable place to live for the short summer season.

“We’ve been an employer since 1999 and each year it gets harder and harder,” Beckley said.

But he’s pretty sure he’s got a solution, at least for the time being.

Beckley’s solution is two words employers know all-too-well in the valley ” employee housing.

“We’ve got to do it,” Beckley said. “A lot of people want to come here but it’s difficult to find a place to live for three or four months.”

Beckley employs around 150 people each summer during Glenwood Caverns’ busy season. He likes to hire locals to work through the summer, but the majority of his employees are typically seasonal workers here on work visas.

“I’d like to hire people here,” Beckley said. “But they’re just not around.”

So he hires seasonal workers from around the globe who come to work for the summer. The difficulty in that is finding a place they can afford on a $10 to $12 hourly wage.

Beckley’s solution is converting the old Colorado West Detox Center at 711 Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs into a dorm-style housing unit for 28 of his seasonal employees.

“We’re hoping that mostly it will help us get employees,” Beckley said. “We’re saying, ‘come work for us. We’ve got a place for you to live.'”

The facility is 7,200 square feet of prime real estate in downtown Glenwood Springs. Beckley found a couple of local investors to purchase the property and allow him to lease it from them with the intention of turning the facility into the affordable units. The front portion of the property is planned to be either retail or restaurant space,

according to Beckley.

According to the Garfield County Assessors Office, the building was purchased by

Robert Kaufmann, for a sale price of $825,000 in February. The property was

originally listed at $850,000 in December of 2007 when Colorado West moved to a

new facility south of town.

The new facility will include one-, two-, and three-person bedrooms, a commons

room, kitchen, laundry room, and men’s and women’s bathroom facilities. Beckley

said he will charge employees $10 a day for rent.

Beckley is looking to help out other local companies, like Colorado Mountain Express

and Sunlight Mountain Resort who use seasonal workers as well, to rent the housing

for their seasonal employees during the winter season when the Caverns is closed.

Sunlight Mountain Resort general manager Tom Jankovsky said there is definitely a

need for more employee housing in the valley and that Beckley has the right idea. As

well, the two employers share a lot of their staff who work at the Caverns in the

summer and at Sunlight during the winter.

“It compliments our work force,” Jankovsky said. “I think it’s great for the Caverns and

it’s a good way for the businesses to compliment each other.”

Beckley also purchased 30 bicycles for employee transportation for those employees

who are without a vehicle. The downtown location is ideal for his employees, he said,

being close to work and all of Glenwood’s amenities.

It’s a step that Beckley thinks is the new wave for employers in the valley.

“There is no choice,” Beckley said. “All the new employers will need to have housing

to get employees. You can work here, but the housing is expensive.”


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