Demolition Begins on the Dunes Motel

Demolition is underway at the Dunes Motel on East Colfax Avenue, the beginning of the end for a line of motels that once stood as the gateway to the great American West, but has more recently become known as a string of flops for drugs, prostitution and homeless families.

The Dunes has stood empty for about a year now since the people who were living there, some for several years, were moved from the roach-infested mess to more permanent housing.

The land was bought by a developer who plans to replace the Dunes and a few other motels like it – along with an old bar and some single-family residences -- with about 750,000 square feet of office space, about 150,000 square feet of retail space, a couple of hotels and about 800 residential units. The redevelopment is happening alongside that of the old Fitzsimons Army Medical Center into the new Fitzsimons Life Science District, which will house several hospitals, research facilities, and the new campus of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

There’s no doubt that the new facilities will give this stretch of East Colfax, and indeed this part of Aurora, a drastic facelift. Gone with the nostalgia of the old motel signs will be the eyesores of the dilapidated buildings. But the drugs and poverty that infested the area have just been pushed a bit West, toward into similar East Colfax motels, just with Denver zip codes, not in the new and improved Aurora.

Construction on the new facilities should start some time this summer. -- Luke Turf

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Cronin