The sale of Colorado Springs’ second-largest hotel meant a not-so-happy start to the new year for dozens of its employees.
The new Texas owner of the Hotel Elegante Conference & Event Center on the city’s south side laid off 160 employees after buying the property last week, according to a notice filed this week with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
A limited liability company created by Austin-based SHIR Capital paid $25 million Dec. 30 for the 496-room hotel at 2886 S. Circle Drive.
The company plans to convert the property to an apartment complex that targets entry-level workers — such as those in retail, restaurants, hotels and similar businesses — who live with roommates, parents or other family members.
Elan Gordon, an SHIR principal, said this week that the company laid off the hotel’s food and beverage staff since it shifted to a limited-service property, closed its restaurant and will phase out hosting conventions and meetings.
In an email Thursday, he disputed the numbers on the labor department’s website. The hotel’s new owner filed a federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice with the state agency that said 160 employees were laid off permanently. The layoffs took effect Dec. 31.
“Those numbers are not accurate,” Gordon wrote. “The majority of those let go here were seasonal and part-time workers, specifically for events. We kept the LARGE majority of full-time workers.”
He also noted that as a result of the food and drink service shutdown, “we were able to donate a large amount of food inventory to (the) Salvation Army.”
The property’s lodging portion has been renamed the Alta Hotel and will continue to operate for about a year as SHIR converts hotel rooms into apartments with full kitchens and bathrooms.
The previous owners, a limited liability company controlled by Odessa, Texas, investor John Bushman, had rented some of the hotel’s rooms for extended stays on a weekly and monthly basis, and those rooms are available for rent on a month-to-month basis, starting at $969 a month.
Much of the hotel’s meeting space will be converted to indoor self-storage units operated by a major self-storage chain and available to residents and nonresidents, Gordon said.
The rest of the meeting space will be turned into amenities for residents of the apartments, which will be operated under the Alta Living brand, he said. The hotel’s coffee shop, pools, children’s play area, laundry and business centers, outdoor sports courts and gathering areas will remain open.
The hotel was built in two phases in 1974 and 1984 and has operated under the Four Seasons, Sheraton, Clarion and Crowne Plaza names before Bushman's group acquired the property out of receivership for $14 million in 2013. Bushman spent another $2 million replacing all guest room mattresses, adding a Starbucks Cafe, a Blue Bell Ice Cream parlor, a playground for children, a sports bar, a fire pit and outdoor seating.