2nd Ave Sports AirBnB
Story written by Ted Holteen | Photos by Jennaye Derge
The long-cliched mantra of the real estate industry is no less true in the lodging biz, and in a compact tourist mecca like Durango, locations are a vanishing commodity. So a few years ago, when 2nd Ave Sports owner Gary Provencher got a notice from his landlord that he’d soon have to leave his longtime home at College Drive and East Second Avenue, a spot of panic set in.
“Our name is Second Avenue Sports – we didn’t have a lot of options as to where we could move,” Provencher said on a sunny, fall afternoon on the deck of the top floor of his bike and ski shop in downtown Durango.
Fortunately for Provencher and his loyal customers, when First Southwest Bank purchased the corner lot, there was a guardian angel in the bank’s executive wing.
“We’re here because First Southwest Bank President Kent Kurtis didn’t want to kick out the local bike shop,” Provencher said.
With hefty financing in place from First Southwest – that included an array of solar panels from Shaw Solar – Provencher hired Kennebec Construction to build a brand-new store about a half block north of the old location; which is where the bank built itself a new, showcase Durango branch. The new store stretches from East Second Avenue to the alley and includes two massive floors of showroom space for thousands of skis, bikes and accessories. But, it’s the third floor that houses the hidden gem of this downtown treasure.
To maximize the space afforded by the building’s footprint, Provencher built two luxury condominiums on the top floor of Second Avenue Sports, and they’re open to anyone looking for an unparalleled stay in Downtown Durango.
“We built the building as large as the city would let us because in this day and age there’s a lot of space that’s not utilized,” Provencher said. “That drives up the cost of real estate and it seemed responsible for us to do all we could to add to a town that doesn’t have a lot of housing.”
For now, one of those units also happens to be one of the best lodging deals in town. With more than 2,500 hotel rooms, another 700 choices on VRBO and AirBnB and countless other options, visitors to Durango can almost double the local population on any given night or weekend.
There are few, if any, that offer the kind of amenities – for locals or tourists alike – that this stunning unit does. 1,400 square feet boasts three bedrooms, a living room, a fully-appointed kitchen with brand-new, state of the art appliances including a washer & dryer, two full bathrooms and a deck with a stainless steel grill and views unmatched anywhere in the city. And, it can still be had for less than $400 a night.
“We should change the rate, but just haven’t gotten there yet,” said Ali Tracey, 2nd Ave Sports’ Office Manager who also handles the day-to-day operations of the condominium. Provencher nodded, adding, “The condo helps us pay for the building but it was never intended to be a moneymaker on its own so I’m not going to spend a lot of time raising and lowering the rates all year. So I guess sometimes it’s a bargain and others, not as much.”
“They love the fact that they can rent their skis, get them waxed, or get their bikes worked on or whatever and never leave the building.” – Provencher says
Regardless of the time of year, it’s hard to compare this residence with any other in town. It’s location on Second Avenue means the third floor deck is one of the highest points downtown and almost nothing is out of eyesight.
“I don’t think there are many units you can compare it to,” Provencher said. “(Three) couples pay about $140 a night to stay downtown – I don’t think you can beat that.”
For those in search of adventure tourism without the roughing it, the Second Avenue condo is the ideal landing spot. When staying in an outdoor mecca like Durango, few guests can experience the convenience of having the bike and ski shop an elevator ride from their bedroom.
“They love the fact that they can get rent their skis, get them waxed, or get their bikes worked on or whatever and never leave the building,” Provencher said.
Not surprisingly, Tracey said the unit is already booked for the 2019 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic – “That happened at the end of the weekend this year” – as well as some of the other high-demand times in Durango when it’s hard to find a room, let alone a luxury condominium looking down on the rest of the city. But this is also the kind of place for which the word “Staycation” was invented, and Provencher said locals are now discovering a home away from home, even if it’s only a few blocks.
“There’s a lady who lives right nearby but she’s got some friends coming to town and they’re all going to stay here for a few days – she said it’ll be like a vacation for her, too.”
And as many locals know and tourists find out quickly, the two parking spots allotted to the condo are nearly worth the price of admission alone.
Of particular appeal to many grassroots-minded visitors is the fact that renting this unit is a buy-local act at its core. Provencher worked at Second Avenue Sports for about four years before buying the business and built the new location entirely from loans provided by First Southwest – the dollars spent here stay here with a local family and the employees of a longtime local business that started more modestly as a used sporting goods store. One look at the current inventory and it’s easy to that Provencher thinks big.
“With the bike shop, we started carrying new bikes because we saw the niche. It took 12 years to get where we’re at now. We might have too many on the floor, but when a customer comes in I want them to not just have options, but have five really good options.”
With such a fantastic and desirable location just up the stairs from his office, the question had to be asked – why didn’t Gary move in to that beautiful condo himself?
“It’s too close to my work,” he said, laughing. “I ride my bike to work every day and that time’s valuable to me.” He’s also got a wife and kids, and while there’s plenty of room for six adults in the condo, it’s probably not conducive to the kind of lifestyle one might associate with raising a family. Looking down on the Strater Hotel and Main Avenue and being within walking distance to every bar and restaurant in town is great for some friends on vacation or even a Snowdown weekend, but Provencher’s willing to let others enjoy the space – at least for now.
“I could see a time when we might move in here when the kids are older – it’s pretty nice, isn’t it?” he said.
Ted Holteen is a Durango freelance writer and radio host at KSUT-FM. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.