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The Atlas Motel on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Cheyenne. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – The Atlas Motel, built in 1927, now sits vacant on Lincolnway, greeting those who enter Cheyenne from the west. Next year, the shuttered building will be torn down and a new Hampton Inn & Suites built in its place.

The Koehler Organization, a hospitality management company, already runs several hotels in Cheyenne and chose the Atlas Motel as its next business endeavor.

“Cheyenne really fits our goal for what we want in a market,” John Koehler said.

The hotel will be about 95 rooms and five stories high, and the plan is to begin abatement of the Atlas on Jan. 1 so construction can begin in the spring.

After the Atlas closed about two years ago, the location became a problem area for surrounding organizations.

In September 2018, COMEA House Executive Director Robin Bocanegra told the Tribune Eagle they had problems with people going to the Atlas Motel property to drink alcohol or use drugs before heading back to the homeless shelter for dinner. During that time, Cheyenne Police Department spokesman Officer Kevin Malatesta also told the Tribune Eagle they had problems with trespassing, as well as instances of narcotic use and burglary at the location.

Mayor Marian Orr also called on the property owner at the time to demolish the building for safety reasons. The west edge of town has been increasingly a focus of city officials, and the new Hampton Inn & Suites is a big step in the right direction.

“It’s the entryway to Cheyenne and our downtown area,” said Bruce Heimbuck, president of the Downtown Development Authority’s board of directors. “The West Edge has the potential to become a vital part of downtown.”

Over the past few years, the area has seen new developments like the new Warehouse 21 building, West Edge Collective and the Civic Commons Park. The City Council is currently working to buy a portion of the former Hitching Post Inn to gain access to the Ice and Events Center from Lincolnway and to spur more activity in the area.

And, as the council debated the Hitching Post project, it was clear that city staff believed new developments in the area would have a domino effect. Orr said she thinks the same is true for the Atlas Motel project, which is right next door.

“Hopefully sooner than later, a very important and integral gateway to our community is going to be developed and reimagined,” Orr said.

Koehler said the location of the Atlas is perfect for a new hotel because of its proximity to downtown and the interstate.

“We’re excited about the rest of the area continuing to develop,” Koehler said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for growth on the west part of town.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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