Summer is barely a season in Leadville, Colo. In fact, the community is located more than 10,000 feet above sea level and receives about 148 inches of snow each year. That’s why developers had to be creative, and fast, when taking a historic hotel and converting it into a 37-unit apartment building.

The Overland Property Group (OPG) completed The Tabor Grand Hotel Apartments in about seven months—rain, snow, or shine.

“At one point, the scaffolding that surrounded the entire east and south side of the building was tented and heated to allow for work to continue and stay on schedule,” says Matt Gilliam, vice president of development at OPG.

The small community of Leadville has a population of less than 2,600 residents, and 22.2% of the households live below the federal poverty line.

In an effort to make the financing more attractive, the city of Leadville forgave the remaining debt on the hotel and donated a parking lot behind the building to the developers—gifts that are equivalent to about $800,000 worth of support. The rest of the $9.3 million project's financing came from historic rehab tax credit, a low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) allocation of $652,836 from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority, and a 30-year tax abatement.

The new community features one- and two-bedroom units with rents ranging from $450 to $525 for residents earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income. Within hours of opening, the building was completely leased.

To prevent snow and ice buildup on the exterior of the building, the developers integrated a computerized weather information system that kicks heating elements on in the roof depending on temperature and precipitation.

The altitude also posed problems for the renovation. The 130-year-old, single-pane windows that had been originally built into the hotel couldn’t be restored and then driven up the mountain without cracking with the altitude change. So, the developers opted to install new, double-pane, energy-efficient windows that each had a special, small tube to allow for the pressure change. Once the new windows made it to the hotel, they were filled with argon gas and installed where they originally were placed.

Project Details

Developer: Overland Property Group
Architect: Neenan Co.
Major Funders: Midwest Housing Equity Group; Colorado Federal Savings Bank; Colorado Housing Finance Authority