Denver might buy more hotels for the homeless, city officials say

A homeless camp at Grant and 13th in Capitol Hill this week. (Aaron Kremer photo)

The city of Denver’s pending $7.85 million purchase of a hotel in northeast Denver last week likely won’t be the last of its kind.

Mayor Michael Hancock stood alongside Congresswoman Diana DeGette last Thursday to announce the city’s intention to put $2 million in federal funds toward the purchase of the 96-room, would-be Travelodge Hotel at 12033 E. 38th Ave., with the intention of converting it to a homeless shelter.

The city’s assistant director of real estate, Lisa Lumley, told BusinessDen this week there could be more hotel purchases in the future.

While the city didn’t put out an official request for proposals when seeking this initial purchase, Lumley said, one could be issued seeking future buys in “the next few months.”

Lumley said the specifics of the RFP would be developed in conjunction with the city’s Department of Housing Stability, or HOST.

A spokesman for that department confirmed the interest, but said it was premature to discuss the parameters of a potential RFP.

“HOST is exploring additional hotel/motel acquisition options as part of our five-year strategic planning process that is currently underway,” spokesman Derek Woodbury said in an email. “This planning process will help guide how the city invests resources, creates policy and partners to provide housing stability, resolves episodes of homelessness, and creates housing opportunities for the people of Denver.”

The former Stay Inn in northeast Denver, which was in the process of conversion to a Travelodge, is under negotiation to be sold to the city of Denver to be used as a homeless shelter.

Lumley said this pending deal for the hotel along Peoria Street, south of Interstate 70, developed out of conversation between her, HOST, and the hotel’s owner, Hugo Weinberger, over the course of several months. She said, she reached out to “dozens” of other hotels to get a feel for the market and what might be available.

While no official RFP was offered, Lumley said the mayor sent a letter to those in the industry informing hoteliers of a desire on the city’s part to partner with them on some level.

Meanwhile, the exact plan for the hotel — which as of Tuesday still wasn’t yet under contract — remains somewhat uncertain.

“A service partner is not in place yet for the 12033 E. 38th Ave. property,” Woodbury wrote. “HOST will look to procure for those services, and a client referral/eligibility plan will be developed in partnership with procured partner(s).”

The planned purchases come as the city has spent about $27 million during the pandemic to rent entire hotels for homeless individuals.

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