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Business owner renovates motel for community

Business owner renovates motel for community

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Plans are under way to give a Manitou Springs motel a much needed facelift.

Owner Suzie Hawkins bought the motel from her mother last November. Her mother purchased the property in 1985. Hawkins' mother, like Hawkins, had real estate property throughout Colorado, but this was her cornerstone property.

Hawkins was sad to see what had happened to her mother's favorite property.  Her mom was recently diagnosed with dementia.

"It so broke my heart. It was fearful for me that mom would have one of those moments of recognition and somehow she would know what had happened to her place, and it would be devastating to her," said Hawkins.

"It was always a place where people would come every summer and spend some time, and it was a lot of the old-timers, and it was beautiful. And then, it's gotten so run-down and we've seen a lot of odd people in the neighborhood and it was a shame to see it go downhill," said Penny Webb. She owned the Manitou Hair Emporium across the street from the motel for 11 years and now works in the salon.

Hawkins said motel residents didn't pay rent.  She also suspected there was a lot of domestic violence, crime and drugs on the property.  The property's fate looked bleak.

"They decided that, I think it was September or October, that they were going to shutter it.  And just leave it shuttered, empty, and so I thought there might be something better I could do for everybody than just that," said Hawkins.

Hawkins looked at the needs of the community and decided to renovate the motel into apartments. She plans to turn its 27 rooms into 18 apartments and a laundry room.

Hawkins said what had happened to the property "wasn't fair to the community" and the new renovations are her chance to give back.

"You have to give back.  You can't just take and expect it to keep coming to you," said Hawkins.

The renovation could yield excellent results for the entire neighborhood, not just her property.

"If I can do something that will help lift or raise the property value of people in the community, then it always spurs people on," said Hawkins.

Webb said it's a sign of change in Manitou Springs.

"A lot of the old hotels are run by a lot older people and they're getting ready to retire, so new blood is coming in and wanting to change and fix it up, and they have new ideas, and I think it's great for Manitou," said Webb.

Hawkins filed for major redevelopment, re-zoning and one variance for density.

"There are a lot of requirements on a change and that's unexpected, but I think that it will be a good project in the end," said Hawkins.

Her first meeting with Manitou Springs Planning is scheduled for next week. She hopes to have the permits by June 1 but there is work that can be done before that date. She expects renovations should take 3-to-4 months. She hopes to have the project finished by the end of summer and have the complex leased by winter.

"I think everybody is trying to help, and that's when projects end up being excellent projects -- when you use the whole village to accomplish a goal," said Hawkins.

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