California company to renovate Indian Hills hotel in Taos

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 10/17/19

The Indian Hills hotel is slated for a major facelift as a new company has decided to take over the condemned Taos establishment at 233 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, across from Smith's.

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California company to renovate Indian Hills hotel in Taos

Posted

The Indian Hills hotel is slated for a major facelift as a new company has decided to take over the condemned Taos establishment at 233 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, across from Smith's.

Casetta Group, the company planning to renovate the hotel, could get an added financial boost from the state for the project. The town of Taos has chosen the hotel renovation by Casetta as the project it will submit to the state for a Community Development Block Grant, which provides up to a half-million dollars in reimbursed funding.

If the state approves the project, Casetta will then have to prove to the town of Taos the company has spent $1 million on renovations and improvements to the hotel. Once the company provides the receipts, the town will reimburse Casetta for half the amount the company spends on the project, up to $500,000; the state will then reimburse the town.

"We were really captivated by Taos," said Casetta Group partner and president Carolyn Schneider in discussing the proposed hotel project.

Casetta is a recently formed hotel development company based in California that has been working on various boutique and larger hotels. Schneider made a presentation to the town of Taos recently regarding the funding and gave a brief plan of their intentions with the Indian Hills property.

Companies applying for this money must prove they will benefit the community as well as add full-time jobs to the area.

"We are excited to work with the new owners to restore a once important fixture of historic Taos to visitors and locals alike," town manager Rick Bellis said. "They have some exciting plans that we believe match what locals are seeking as being representative of our community."

Casetta made the decision to take over Indian Hills after the company visited Taos looking for locations it hopes guests would want to visit.

"The hotel has great opportunities for outdoor space, which have not been maximized, and an enhanced guest experience," Schneider said.

Sitting across the street from Smith's and a stone's throw from the historic Taos Plaza, the Indian Hills has sat vacant for months. The property has been riddled with crime, vagrancy and neglect which has given way to overgrowth of trees and broken windows.

The hotel was listed for sale in 2018 for $1.875 million and was condemned by the town of Taos. A 2017 codes inspection found hundreds of violations in the hotel's rooms.

"Any property in this stage of deterioration is going to be a challenge to restore, but we feel strongly about preserving existing buildings and maintaining their history, rather than knocking down and rebuilding," Schneider said.

Town officials are also optimistic about Casetta's plans for restoration.

"This is the gateway to the historic district and our core downtown, as well as a high priority in our redevelopment plan for the downtown, and it has been the hardest of our hotels/motels to get to remodel or sell," Bellis said in an email.

Casetta plans to renovate the rooms and bring a new feel to the hotel. According to Schneider, Casetta hopes to have the building up and running in the fall of 2020. The company also plans to open a restaurant and event venue. The project will add up to 35 local jobs, according to the company.

Bellis said there is no strict timeline for the grant to be approved but he anticipated a decision would be made over a month after submission of the project to the state.

This is not the first hotel in Taos to benefit from CDBG money. Hotel developer Jay Batra won the grant in 2016 and used it to renovate the Hotel Don Fernando de Taos, at 1005 Paseo del Pueblo Sur.

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