Transforming Tech dorms
Developer plans to open WyoTech quarters to public

Laramie Boomerang September 27, 2013
CHILTON TIPPIN chiltont@laramieboomerang.com   

John Murphy said he’s heard the stories about WyoTech-Laramie dorms. ”Over the years, the property’s gained a reputation of being rowdy and even the damage done to the rooms by the Tech students got to be legendary,” Murphy said of the dormitory unit located at 1075 McCue St. “People found whole engines inside the rooms, where they’d somehow gotten an entire pickup engine inside the room and were taking it apart, and things of that nature.”

laramieApartmentMurphy’s company, The Timbers, LLC., purchased the property in 2010.

Beginning Aug. 1, Murphy said the company plans to rebrand and transform the building’s image and interior, starting with renovations to its 144 rooms.

“We have possession rights for the first time in 42 months on Aug. 1,” Murphy said. “WyoTech, after 30 years, is not renewing their lease on the property. They’re welcome to, but they’re not. We’re under the Fair Housing Act. We’re going to open it up for the first time in its history to the public.”

Murphy said his family – which has been involved in real estate in Wyoming and Colorado for years – has a philosophy when it comes to properties.

“If we’re in a neighborhood where children are born and people are living their lives, when we move in there not to live, when we move in there for income, we owe a deeper obligation to that neighborhood than the residents,” he said. “So our philosophy is: ‘No tenant is better than a bad tenant.’” He said he plans to take that philosophy to the WyoTech dormitory, which he plans to rename The Timbers.

“We’re fixing it up, and it’s going to look like a circus comes to town on Aug. 1,” he said. “My brother’s bringing a big crew up there, all kinds of trucks and workers – we’re dealing with Laramie tradesmen also – and we’re going to fix everything that’s broken.”

That includes installing new appliances, replacing broken doors, putting in new carpet and flooring and removing “more than 100 pigeon nests,” Murphy said.

laramieApartment10“Room by room, we’re going to pull up subfloors, which have been raised and buckled by leaking water, and put down hardy board to make sure we have good, smooth floors,” he said. “We’re going to put down new vinyl that looks like wood to fit the image.” In addition, Murphy plans to construct a commons area for residents.

“Between the two buildings, there’s going to be a pavilion, a community center for the people who live there,” he said. “The architect’s already started work on that. There’s going to be stand-up fire pits and all of that.”

The facility abuts a city owned lot that stretches to the Laramie River.

Murphy said his long-term vision is to develop the lot into small-boat access and parking for the river.

He also said he’d like to work with the city to build a bridge over the river, giving tenants and residents of West Laramie better access to the Green Belt.

“Our partnership would put in the bridge abutment on our side and then let the city put in the bridge abutment on the other side, and we’d raise the money for a bridge,” he said.

Murphy said he and his brother have developed multiple properties in the city.

“We try to make our properties credits to the community,” he said. “We try to raise our properties at least to the standards of the community, but we always try to go one notch farther, because we owe it to them. That’s our philosophy, and that’s what we plan to do with this.”

Murphy said the rooms are studio apartments and start at $375 per month.

The WyoTech dormitory unit on McCue Street is slated to be renovated and rebranded with the name “The Timbers” on Aug. 1. Developer John Murphy, a University of Wyoming Law School graduate, said his company plans to open the dorm to the general public “for the first time in its history.” JEREMY MARTIN/Boomerang photographer.