Glenwood Springs wants to develop the “Wye” area downtown, at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. In November, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) signed off on negotiations that were years in the making, so the city can move forward with development.
The city is in a tight spot geographically, as it’s spread along two narrow river valleys. There’s consensus among city officials Glenwood Springs needs to build up, as it can’t build out, meaning it needs to make use of all the space it currently has. As the Wye is right downtown, it's a perfect candidate for infill development.
The city wants housing there and to redevelop the 7th Street corridor to better connect the riverfront property and downtown.
In order to accumulate land in the Wye, the city made a deal with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), which had purchased the Wye when it bought the Rio Grande Railroad Corridor for $8.9 million in 1997. RFTA exchanged several acres in the Wye for land in west Glenwood Springs for their maintenance facility.
The railroad, however, maintained the easement on the property, which they offered to sell to the city for $6 million. Then the city made administrative moves to essentially seize the easement, which forced Union Pacific to lower their offer to $1.5 million.
All this happened this summer, but it was at the November’s RFTA meeting that the board signed off on the transaction, which brings the matter to a close.