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The Hitching Post Inn on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2019 in Cheyenne. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – The owner of the former Hitching Post Inn is gearing up to submit a loan application to the Brownfields Revolving Loan Committee in order to assist with abatement and demolition of the infamous Cheyenne hotel’s two southern buildings.

The Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund uses an Environmental Protection Agency grant to support renovation projects where contamination or hazardous substances are barriers to development. While a number of developers have shown interest in the property, abatement and demolition ended up too expensive for anyone to follow through.

The Cheyenne City Council even passed a memorandum of understanding with a potential buyer who had a purchasing agreement on the table until COVID-19 upended the deal. But before the deal fell through, the developer was only interested in the property if the city was willing to take over some of the Hitching Post buildings.

Casey Palma, the agent for the property, said any active interest in the property going forward would “likely be contingent upon these buildings being removed.”

“This is exactly the type of project that I think this program is targeted to, and if we can take it on in baby steps and march down the road of getting this area cleaned up, then there’s a lot of real, solid redevelopment potential here,” Palma said.

Palma laid out the possible loan request to the Brownfields Revolving Loan Committee at their Wednesday meeting, though the plan is to submit a formal application further down the line. The current estimate for abatement sits at $488,000, and demolition would cost about $70,000 more, though that aspect likely wouldn’t be covered by the EPA-funded loan.

“It’s the sort of elephant in the room for everybody around this property – how do we deal with the Hitching Post? If we could start to get that cleaned up, and eventually see development there … this could be a really vibrant area west of downtown,” Palma said.

Hitching Post owner Dipalie Jariwalla told the committee that she’s strengthened her finances and is ready to pay for the loan. She added that she hopes this is the end of the “headaches” this property has caused for the city.

Looking forward, Committee Chair Lori Schoene added that the committee “certainly” has the funds for these types of projects.

“As a committee ... I think we would be anxious to look at applications that would allow those funds to get out there and be used,” Schoene said.

Thanks to a Brownfields grant, the Bell Building downtown is currently undergoing a transformation from an abandoned, asbestos-filled building to a luxury apartment complex. The hope is these funds could assist in the same sort of transformation for the Hitching Post.

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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