Thursday, November 29, 2007

NEW Christie lift and Steamboat Ski Area opening 11/30/07

Steamboat to debut Christie Peak Express at Friday opening
By Tom Ross
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Steamboat Springs — Devoted Steamboat skiers and riders will have to learn some new tricks Friday when the ski area opens for the season.
The resort ushers in a new era this week as it opens the 2007-08 season with its first six-passenger chairlift, the Christie Peak Express. The lift will open at 8:30 a.m.
Steamboat Ski Area officials also announced Wednesday that Scholarship Day lift tickets will cost $20. All proceeds will benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season passes and value cards will not be honored until Saturday.
Skiing and riding Friday will be from Thunderhead down Upper Vagabond and then back to the base via a series of intermediate and beginner trails.
There’s more to Christie Peak Express than its capacity. The new lift has a midway station where skiers can decide whether to get off the lift at the top of the Headwall trail or continue on their way to the top of Christie Peak.
That means learning how to use a new liftline maze that matches up groups of six, plus communicating one’s intentions when preparing to get off the lift. Steamboat skiers should be up to the task.
Ski area spokesman Mike Lane predicted the Christie Peak maze would fall into place.
“If you can group in six, that’s perfect,” Lane said. “It’s what Steamboat’s about. Get to know your neighbors.”
When it comes to getting off at the midway point, Lane said the lift would slow down as it enters the station.
“The way it is designed, there is ample time for those who want to get off to do so regardless of where they are sitting on the chair,” Lane said.
As the chairs leave the midway station, the lift will make a dogleg to the right for the trip to the Christie summit.
The new high-speed chairlift was originally scheduled to open in mid-December. However, Christie Peak will be earning its keep from Day 1 this season — the gondola will be out of action while work crews install a new haul rope. Christie Peak Express will provide the critical link from the base of the mountain to the bottom of the Thunderhead Express chairlift, which will carry skiers to the top of Thunderhead Peak.
Skiers and riders will find the best turns on north-facing Upper Vagabond on Friday before winding their way down gentle cruisers like Betwixt, Eagles’ Nest, Short Cut, Main Drag, Boulevard, Lower Yoo Hoo, Preview and Stampede. Also operating on Friday will be the newly extended Preview chairlift.
Other changes
Parents dropping youngsters off to ski this winter also will have to adapt. The old drop-off in Parking Lot 1 is under construction. Vice President of Resort Services Mike DeGroff said the new alternatives are in the signed “Passenger Unloading Zone” in the Gondola Transit Center, a short-term drop-off zone at the Ski Time Square Roundabout, and a limited number of free 30-minute parking spaces in the lower level of the Gondola Square Parking Garage. They are reserved for Kids Vacation Center and ski school programs.
The run-up to the beginning of the 2007-08 season has been a challenging one for mountain crews as they worked long hours to regrade the lower-most slopes on the ski mountain at the same time they moved one chairlift and installed Christie Peak Express. An unusually mild and dry autumn aided the construction process but ultimately delayed the opening of the ski runs.
“Resort mountain crews have done a tremendous job working nearly around the clock to take advantage of the weather conditions this past week,” said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations.
Scholarship Day
The Scholarship Day benefit has raised more than $525,000 for the club since its inception in 1991 and generated $47,000 during opening day 2006.
“The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has played an integral role in the development of young athletes by providing the support they need in order to achieve their life or Olympic dreams,” said Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. “I encourage everyone to come out and make a few turns, enjoy the new express lift and support a very worthwhile organization this Friday.”
The $5 increase in the Scholarship Day ticket price this year was made after meetings among Ski Corp. and Winter Sports Club officials, Lane said.
“It has been $15 ever since I’ve been here,” he added. “We think a modest price increase is appropriate.”
Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said the scholarship funds help the club live up to its goal of ensuring no youngsters are prevented from participating for financial reasons.
“We provided scholarships for program fees to more than 75 families last year,” DeVos said. “In addition, we have anonymous benefactors come into our office and say, ‘We want to sponsor an entire family.’ You would be surprised how often that happens.”
That commitment to being all-inclusive is part of what gives Steamboat claim to being Ski Town USA, DeVos said.
Scholarship Day will benefit from a little added luster as a half dozen Steamboat Olympians — Billy Kidd, Nelson Carmichael, Erin Simmons, Travis Mayer, Todd Lodwick and Deb Armstrong — gather at the bottom of the lift. They will help the ski area with a second fundraising effort.
After resort dignitaries and VIPs board the first two Christie Peak Express chairs, the Olympians will join guests from local businesses that have combined to raise $4,000 for two local organizations, Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and the Yampa Valley Autism Program. Participating businesses include Duckels Construction, Yampa Valley Medical Center, SmartWool, Steamboat Pilot & Today, One Steamboat Place and Colorado Group Realty.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Alpen Glow and New Downtown Developments

Alpen Glow and siblings provide glimpse of future
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Steamboat Springs — The views from Alpen Glow are beginning to snap into focus this month as construction crews from Drahota Construction and its subcontractors prepare to transition inside for the winter. There are views of Butcherknife Creek, the ski jumps at Howelsen Hill, Sleeping Giant and Mount Werner, where the pre-sunset phenomenon known as alpenglow can be expected to make regular appearances this winter.

Alpen Glow, at Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street, is one of four mixed-use residential commercial building projects under construction in downtown Steamboat Springs. Its sibling, Howelsen Place, at Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street, is well under way but not as far along.

The Olympian has its foundation poured at Yampa and Fifth streets, and The Victoria is rising above the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and 10th Street. All four projects are on corner lots and address key intersections in downtown Steamboat’s commercial core. Alpen Glow and Howelsen Place will replace decaying motel/hotels. The Victoria will stand where, for decades, a former gas station served as a liquor store in the middle of a patch of asphalt. The Olympian is taking shape on a piece of formerly vacant land just across from the Fifth Street Bridge, which leads across the Yampa River to Howelsen Hill.

Alpen Glow is ahead of the pack in terms of obtaining certificates of occupancy and turning the keys over to new owners. Alpen Glow and Howelsen Place condos and townhomes are eligible to be managed as short-term rentals.

The eighth-, second- and third-floor loft condos at Alpen Glow range in size from 647 to 1,855 square feet. Three are available. A one-bedroom unit is listed for $800,000, and two-bedroom units are about $1.1 million. The townhomes comprise 1,681 square feet, plus a 281-square-foot garage that can be used as commercial space in a live/work arrangement.
The residences are insulated against the noise of the street, but the condos on the front of the building also offer covered decks that embrace the street and would lend themselves to hosting a party while Winter Carnival or Fourth of July parades passed below.

Article modified from Steamboat Pilot 11/18/07 - Tom Ross

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ski Area Opening December 1st

Ski area delays opening


The Steamboat Ski Area has pushed back opening day by more than a week because of a lack of snow. Ski area officials announced the decision at noon today. The ski area is now scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 30 instead of Wednesday, Nov. 21. The Friday opening will be the traditional Scholarship Day, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Season passes won’t be valid until the following day, Dec. 1.

“Steamboat is headed into a La Nina winter, which as studies show, could mean heaps of champagne powder snow throughout the season, but the warm weather patterns we’ve experienced lately have made snowmaking a challenge,” Andy Wirth said in a news release. Wirth is executive vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer for Intrawest.

This year marks the first time since 2001 — and only the second time in the past 26 years — that Steamboat wasn’t able to open as scheduled. In 2001, ski area officials pushed back opening day from Nov. 19 to Nov. 30. Five feet of snow fell during that 12-day period.

Because Scholarship Day will fall on a school day, the ski area will offer local students, teachers and school administrators a voucher that allows them to ski Dec. 1 at discounted Scholarship Day prices. The Scholarship Day program has raised more than $525,000 for the Winter Sports Club since 1991.

The Dec. 1 opening also is expected to include the unveiling of the new Christie Peak Express six-passenger lift. The lift wasn't scheduled to open until mid-December, Wirth said.
Steamboat Ski Area isn’t the only resort suffering from lack of snow. Vail also announced today that it would push back its opening — originally scheduled for Friday — until the middle of next week. On Wednesday, Eldora Mountain Resort announced it also is postponing opening day, originally scheduled for Friday. Eldora hopes to open Thanksgiving Day instead.

Seven of Colorado’s 26 ski areas have opened for business, including Winter Park and Copper Mountain. Steamboat Ski Area season pass holders had the option this year of upgrading their passes to include unlimited skiing at Winter Park and Copper. Like Steamboat, Copper Mountain is owned by Intrawest. Intrawest is under contract with the city and county of Denver to operate Winter Park. Most of Colorado’s open ski areas have limited trails available, and most have been forced to rely heavily on artificial snow.

Ne City Council discussing historic preservation moratoriaum

New City Council members dive into hot-button issues
By Brandon Gee


Steamboat Springs — Loui Antonucci was named president of the new Steamboat Springs City Council, and Cari Hermacinski its president pro-tem, during a Tuesday night meeting that saw newly elected council members make their mark in Centennial Hall.

The council’s five new members were anything but timid in their first meeting.
“I think we got the community excited about big change,” Myller said. Hermacinski moved quickly Tuesday to overturn work of the previous City Council, requesting that City Attorney Tony Lettunich draft an ordinance repealing a moratorium adopted in September that bans the demolition of structures deemed historic. A citizen committee has been formed to re-evaluate the city’s current historic preservation ordinance, which has sparked widespread public debate. While opposing the moratorium, Hermacinski expressed support for the committee’s work. “I just don’t want that to happen under the auspices of a moratorium,” she said. No one who voted in favor of the moratorium remains on City Council.

Councilwoman Meg Bentley, who won a District 2 seat last week, said repealing the moratorium would undermine the work of the committee, which meets for the first time tonight.
“I think it’s a vote of no confidence to remove that moratorium right now,” Bentley said.
Magill, Antonucci and Quinn joined Hermacinski in support of her motion, while Ivancie, Bentley and Myller opposed it. The first reading of the moratorium’s repeal is scheduled for next week.

Subdivision at 360 Ranch (West of Steamboat)


Subdivision with a twist
Land preservation proposal goes before Planning Commission
By Tom Ross

Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Planning Commission will hear a proposal tonight for a rural subdivision on Routt County Road 42 that could foreshadow the future of the rolling farmland west of Steamboat Springs. Wilton Development’s 360 Ranch would create 11 homesites of roughly 5 acres each on a 355-acre tract formerly farmed by Frank and Dot Hussey. Wilton Development purchased the property, known as the L Lazy H Subdivision, for $6.74 million in February.

The developers are submitting their plans under Routt County’s Land Preservation Subdivision ordinance, which would award them two bonus lots above the nine they are entitled to by state law. The bonus lots are awarded in exchange for clustering the homesites on one portion of the property. The site is immediately west and on the opposite side of a mesa from the Steamboat II and Silver Spur subdivisions.

What makes the 360 Ranch proposal unusual is that the western boundary lines of two “remainder parcels” described in the permit application were carefully drawn to conform to the urban boundary delineated in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. The plan governs how the city could grow beyond its current limits.

Tony Connell, a partner in the project, confirmed that those lines were drawn so that in the event that the remainder parcels are annexed into the city in the future, they could be considered for more dense housing. “The land was chosen specifically with that in mind,” Connell said. He credited another partner, Randall Hannaway, a Realtor with Colorado Group Realty, for recognizing the potential of the property. Connell added that Hank Wilton, a resident of Virginia, is the general partner of Wilton Development. The company has offices in the 800 block of Lincoln Avenue.

Connell served on the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in the late 1990s when the provisions of the original West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan were hammered out. Subsequently, he was the developer of the West End Village residential neighborhood where market-rate homes helped to subsidize affordable housing within the subdivision.
Connell is convinced that someday, the large homes that would be built on the lots at 360 Ranch could subsidize a denser community housing project closer to Steamboat II.

“It’s really exciting to me,” Connell said. “I think this one offers the same possibility. In fact, I know it does.” County planner Mitchell Harvey said the 360 Ranch proposal is on the consent portion of tonight’s Planning Commission agenda, meaning it could be approved with little discussion. However, any commission member could call it up for a full discussion of its merits.
Harvey said the proposal actually entails two components. In addition to a “Land Preservation Subdivision Exemption” that would allow the two bonus lots, the developers are seeking a conditional use permit in the ag/forestry zone district.
The permit would allow them to build indoor and outdoor hot pools with a building resembling a grain silo. There also would be a cluster of buildings at the entrance to the ranch on C.R. 42. They would include a caretaker’s residence, office and storage buildings.

Connell said no matter what transpires, the 360 Ranch LPS would always offer a large tract of open space that would remain in agriculture. He said the developers are consulting with representatives of the Colorado Division of Wildlife about planting a grain crop that would benefit wildlife such as cranes and grouse. Connell said that when the Husseys sold the property to Wilton Development, they retained their home on 35 acres.

Friday, November 9, 2007

New Council Mulls Iron Horse

New City Council Members mull Iron Horse - New councilors face challenges
By Brandon Gee


Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs’ planned $4.05 million purchase of the Iron Horse Inn was a controversial topic leading up to Election Day. And now that the deal has closed, the incoming City Council will be hard-pressed to reverse the transaction.
The Iron Horse Inn purchase received unanimous approval from the current City Council and has been embraced by city staff. The city intends to use it to provide affordable rental housing for city employees and others. However, the purchase was heavily criticized by City Council candidates in recent months. That criticism included the final taxpayer price tag of more than $10 million, when interest is included.

Scott Myller, who defeated City Council President Susan Dellinger on Tuesday, said he may have looked to back out of the purchase of the motel just outside of downtown.
“It’s in direct competition with the private sector’s ability to provide rental housing,” Myller said. “It makes them throw up their arms and not even try if the city’s going to subsidize it. … Now that it’s closed, I guess we’ll have to deal with it. I’m the type of person that once a decision is made, I’m ready to move on.” The city closed on the transaction Oct. 31.

Jon Quinn, who defeated Councilmember Karen Post on Tuesday, also disagrees with the purchase, but suggested the city might be able to back out prior to the 2008 budget taking effect in January. Because the Iron Horse Inn purchase is structured as a “lease purchase,” City Attorney Tony Lettunich confirmed that it’s subject to annual appropriations and could be canceled. But Lettunich said such a move would be foolish.

The city is using certificates of participation to fund the transaction and has established the Steamboat Springs Build­ing Corp. as an intermediary bet­ween the city and the certificate of participation holders. Lettunich said if the city does not appropriate funds related to the inn’s purchase, it would default on its payment to the Building Corp., which would in turn be unable to pay the holders of the certificates of participation, leading to a foreclosure on the property.
“If the city does that, it would be catastrophic for our bonding ability,” Lettunich said. “The bond market would not think very highly of Steamboat Springs. We legally have the right to do that, but there would be grave consequences.” Quinn also raised the possibility of selling the Iron Horse Inn in the near future. He thinks the city has underestimated renovation costs and suggested not remodeling the inn and using it only in the short term while looking to sell it for a profit. “It’s something I would consider, at least in the next five years,” Quinn said. “I think we can do better than that particular piece of property. It’s possible that the city could actually make a dime on it. … If there’s a way that it can help in the near run, fantastic, but maybe we don’t put so much money in the remodel and look to flip it.”

Lettunich, however, said a sale also would be problematic. It is the certificate of participation holders, not the city, that technically own the inn. That won’t change until the certificates are paid off in 20 to 25 years. Current council members and city staff say the Oct. 31 closing date was in no way influenced by the upcoming Election Day.

“It was completely unrelated. I can absolutely guarantee you there was no attention paid to the election,” Lettunich said. Dellinger agreed. “The closing was all specific to the seller, as every closing is,” she said. “It had nothing to do with the election.” Lettunich noted that before the purchase and sale agreement was assigned to the city, the original contract closing date was Sept. 6. Cafritz Interests of Washington, D.C. — purchasers of Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge — had originally planned to purchase the inn and use it to satisfy its affordable housing requirements for the redevelopment of its base area properties.
Once the purchase and sale agreement were assigned to the city, Lettunich said the city chose the earliest possible closing date to keep the seller interested. Lettunich said Oct. 31 was chosen because it gave the city enough time to approve the purchase through city ordinances with 30 days following the passage of those ordinances.

Not all new City Council members oppose the Iron Horse Inn purchase. Walter Magill, who defeated Vince Arroyo for a District 3 seat, said he thought it was a good purchase presented poorly. Meg Bentley, who defeated former City Manager Paul Hughes for a District 2 seat, said she was “thrilled that it closed.” Even Quinn said he isn’t prepared to make any decisions regarding the inn. “It’s something that’s going to take some attention,” he said. “I’d like to learn more about it before telling you I’m going to go left or right.”

Cari Hermacinski, who defeated Councilmember Tow­ny Anderson in the at-large race, said the purchase is on a list of things she plans to learn more about from city staff before forming an opinion. City Manager Alan Lanning agreed with Lettunich that the deal would be hard to reverse, but said he will be happy to explain why city staff thinks it is a good move for the city.
“It’s pretty hard to back it up at this point,” Lanning said. “If they ask, we’ll explain why we think it’s a good deal, and if they disagree, then they disagree.”

Sheraton Proposal (Starwood Hotel) Enters City Planning

Sheraton (Starwood Hotels) Enter City Planning

Steamboat Springs — Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has entered the city planning process with its plans to remodel the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel. When the transformation is complete, the hotel will include 47 multi-bedroom condominiums that will be added to more than 6,000 “vacation villas” marketed and managed by Starwood Vacation Ownership. Members in Starwood Vac­ation Ownership purchase deeded ownership of a week in a “home resort,” which can be traded for vacations in other destinations.

Starwood purchased the hotel, along with the 18-hole Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course, in May from Ski Time Square Enterprises for a little less than $57 million. The company already had an equity interest in the property and a management contract to operate it.

Starwood’s plans for the Sheraton include remodels of several distinct wings of the hotel. However, the current development application at the city pertains to the original “east tower.”
Plans submitted to the city by architect Matt Wolf with Eric Smith and Associates include floor plans for converting 80 traditional hotel rooms on floors two through five into 24 vacation villas. The villas would be two- and three-bedroom units with kitchen and dining areas.
In addition, City Planner Sid Rivers said, the hotel owners are seeking to enclose the existing exterior balconies on the condominiums to gain more interior space.

Rivers said converting the hotel rooms into condominiums for individual sale requires a change in the plat that could be approved administratively. The plan to enclose the balconies, which would add 2,040 square feet of interior space to the building, would require a development permit and go through the public hearing process.

Also joining the pool of vacation villas under the Starwood Vacation Ownership flag will be the existing 23 multi-bedroom units in the Sheraton Steamboat’s Morningside Tower.
The 193 hotel rooms in the Sheraton’s West Tower also will be remodeled.
Starwood spokesman David Matheson said the renovations would begin after ski season and would make a significant difference in the appearance of the Sheraton.
“The hotel is basically going to be brand new,” Matheson said.
Sheraton Steamboat General Manager Chuck Porter said the remodel and loss of hotel rooms would not diminish the hotel’s ability to function as a convention host.

Sheraton Proposal (Starwood Hotel) Enters City Planning

Steamboat Springs — Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has entered the city planning process with its plans to remodel the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel. When the transformation is complete, the hotel will include 47 multi-bedroom condominiums that will be added to more than 6,000 “vacation villas” marketed and managed by Starwood Vacation Ownership.
Members in Starwood Vac­ation Ownership purchase deeded ownership of a week in a “home resort,” which can be traded for vacations in other destinations.
Starwood purchased the hotel, along with the 18-hole Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course, in May from Ski Time Square Enterprises for a little less than $57 million. The company already had an equity interest in the property and a management contract to operate it.
Starwood’s plans for the Sheraton include remodels of several distinct wings of the hotel. However, the current development application at the city pertains to the original “east tower.”
Plans submitted to the city by architect Matt Wolf with Eric Smith and Associates include floor plans for converting 80 traditional hotel rooms on floors two through five into 24 vacation villas. The villas would be two- and three-bedroom units with kitchen and dining areas.
In addition, City Planner Sid Rivers said, the hotel owners are seeking to enclose the existing exterior balconies on the condominiums to gain more interior space.
Rivers said converting the hotel rooms into condominiums for individual sale requires a change in the plat that could be approved administratively. The plan to enclose the balconies, which would add 2,040 square feet of interior space to the building, would require a development permit and go through the public hearing process.
Also joining the pool of vacation villas under the Starwood Vacation Ownership flag will be the existing 23 multi-bedroom units in the Sheraton Steamboat’s Morningside Tower.
The 193 hotel rooms in the Sheraton’s West Tower also will be remodeled.
Starwood spokesman David Matheson said the renovations would begin after ski season and would make a significant difference in the appearance of the Sheraton.
“The hotel is basically going to be brand new,” Matheson said.
Sheraton Steamboat General Manager Chuck Porter said the remodel and loss of hotel rooms would not diminish the hotel’s ability to function as a convention host.

Copper Ridge & Curve Court

Copper Ridge Business Park & Curve Court Planning Approvals

The Planning Commission unanimously ap­­proved a request by the World West company, owners of the Steamboat Pilot & Today, to subdivide its 5.2 acre lot in the 1900 block of Curve Court. City Planner Sid Rivers said the subdivision was based on the request of a potential buyer who wishes to build commercial office space on the resulting 0.9-acre lot at Curve Court and U.S. Highway 40, opposite Cook Chevrolet. “They have a specific buyer who wants that parcel now,” Rivers said.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a development plan and final development plan for a 9,673-square-foot warehouse with employee units and one single-family dwelling. The live-work warehouse is in the Copper Ridge Business Park in the 2500 block of Copper Ridge Drive.

Planning commissioners get first look at Ski Time Square Redevelopment

Planning Commissioners Get First Look at Ski Time Square Redevelopment
By Brandon Gee

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission wants to see more from developers who plan to replace Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge with a project more than four times as large.

The Atira Group, acting in partnership with Cafritz Interests of Washington, D.C., presented its pre-application for the transformation of the properties to the Planning Commission on Thursday, and commissioners scrutinized the proposal with a rare level of consensus. Cafritz purchased the properties in April and plans to demolish both after the upcoming ski season. The new developments would break ground the next year.

The purpose of the pre-application process is to allow developers to bounce tentative plans and concepts off city personnel and then incorporate the feedback into more formal plans. As such, the Planning Commission took no action on the project, but members made clear their impressions of a proposal that would increase the existing 234,449 square feet of development with 1,035,904 square feet of new development.

Despite that massive increase, Atira proposed to decrease the amount of retail and restaurant space by about 25 percent, from 58,131 square feet to 46,578 square feet. Residential and hotel space would increase significantly, from 134,000 square feet to more than 633,210 square feet. Commissioners expressed some reservations about that mix. “I’m disappointed there’s less commercial in your proposal than currently exists,” Commissioner Rich Levy said.
Commissioners also expressed disappointment with the application because it didn’t include a relocation of the existing Ski Time Square Drive. The city’s Mountain Town Subarea Plan calls for the road to be relocated to the north to allow for a more pedestrian-friendly plaza where the road currently runs, but Atira has been unsuccessful in negotiations with other property owners whose cooperation would be necessary to relocate the road.

“When I see the Ski Time Square Drive in the same place it’s always been, that’s a real bummer,” said Commissioner Scott Myller, noting that the development’s attention to pedestrian corridors and open space are just as important as its buildings. “You’ve designed some buildings, but I think we want to see the places between the buildings.”
The mass of the buildings raised concerns as well, especially at the Thunderhead Lodge site. Commissioners were more open to height variances on the north side of the development, where buildings as high as 10 stories are proposed against the steep hillside below Burgess Creek Road.

Commissioners were pleased with the development’s incorporation of Burgess Creek into its designs, including a proposed pedestrian walkway along the creek from the north side of the development to the base area. However, the lack of a year-round promenade along the ski area at Thunderhead — a priority of the advisory committee for the base area’s urban renewal authority — was deemed unacceptable.

In other action, the Planning Commission unanimously ap­­proved a request by the World West company, owners of the Steamboat Pilot & Today, to subdivide its 5.2 acre lot in the 1900 block of Curve Court. City Planner Sid Rivers said the subdivision was based on the request of a potential buyer who wishes to build commercial office space on the resulting 0.9-acre lot at Curve Court and U.S. Highway 40, opposite Cook Chevrolet.
“They have a specific buyer who wants that parcel now,” Rivers said.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a development plan and final development plan for a 9,673-square-foot warehouse with employee units and one single-family dwelling. The live-work warehouse is in the Copper Ridge Business Park in the 2500 block of Copper Ridge Drive.

Developers dish a little buzz

Developers dish a little buzz
First real estate roundup draws large attendance
By Tom Ross

Steamboat Springs — There were enough news nuggets Thursday night at the Real Estate Expo and Roundup to keep a packed house at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel Ballroom paying close attention to a panel of six leading developers. First things first. “I’m not tearing down the Yacht Club, if that’s what you were worried about,” Jim Cook announced. Cook is the founder of Colorado Group Realty, whose broker owners sponsored the expo. He’s also a member of the team tackling three downtown redevelopment projects. And he brought news of a fourth to Thursday’s event. Cook said he and the owners of the real estate that houses the Steamboat Yacht Club restaurant, Dick and Paulette Mills, would develop a new mixed-use building along the Yampa River. The two-story building would be built on the lawn adjacent to the restaurant in the 800 block of Yampa Street.

Joining Cook on the speakers’ dais were Jeff Temple of Due West Land and Marabou ranch preservation subdivision; Brent Pearson, a vice president with Resort Ventures West, developers of Wildhorse Meadows; Gerry Engle, a founding partner with The Atira Group, developing The Edgemont and working on the redevelopment of Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge; Timbers Resorts CEO David Burden, developing One Steamboat Place adjacent to the Steamboat Gondola; and Doug Beall, the new vice president of development with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

Beall said Ski Corp. has recently retained an integrated planner to help guide future development on trails, lifts and lodges on the ski mountain. “We need to ask, ‘How can we plan to make sure the mountain and the base continue to work well together?’” Beall said.
Asked by moderator Adonna Allen, president of Alpine Bank in Steamboat, whether it’s inevitable that Steamboat will become Aspen, Pearson endorsed the Vision 2030 project.
“The important point for people living here is to define exactly what Steamboat is to them and to continue to communicate that. They can ask development entities to abide by those qualities.” Vision 2030, he said, is an opportunity to do just that.

Temple, whose family has lived in the valley for generations, said community institutions such as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and family ranching embody the spirit of the community. “I’m biased because I have a 7- and a 10-year-old, and our best baby sitter in the world is Howelsen Hill,” Temple said. He announced that Paul Franklin, the developer of The Olympian project at Fifth and Yampa streets, has joined Marabou in committing to initiating a transfer fee (amount to be determined) at their developments, with the proceeds going toward the endowment for the Winter Sports Club. “It will create a continuum of support for the community and the kids,” Temple said. Cook reminded the audience he has established a similar transfer fee at his developments in memory of his late wife. The proceeds will be devoted to furthering arts and culture in the downtown.

“We’re at the embryo stage, but the good news is everybody can be a part of this,” he said
Other remarks by developers:
■ Engle said the need for affordable housing will not go away, but solutions should be a “mosaic of solutions” done through public/private partnerships. He said one solution undertaken in the Vail Valley was meant to provide middle- income housing for firemen, teachers and nurses (for example), and allow the deed restricted housing to appreciate. The answer was to create a subdivision where buyers who exceeded income thresholds were required to pay a premium into a land bank to help create offsetting affordable housing elsewhere.

■ Burden promised One Steamboat Place would be­­come a vital destination for vacationers and locals. He said the Timbers Club in Snowmass has an 84 percent occupancy rate, but he’s taking steps to ensure One Steamboat Place is livelier, with a public restaurant, already named The Truffle Pig (a name he purchased from Wildhorse Marketplace developer Whitney Ward). The development also will offer a destination spa.

■ Pearson said Wildhorse would break ground on 96 attainable housing units next summer and the project has been named “First Tracks.” He added that shortly after Thanksgiving, prospective buyers of deed-restricted housing would be able to submit their names and information. “People have a chance to get in the queue for affordable housing right at the base of the mountain,” he said.

■ Cook announced that Ski Corp. will become a major tenant of Howelsen Place with a “concierge ski program,” where lift tickets and logo apparel will be sold. He added that longtime Steamboat retailer Joe Kboudi will move All that Jazz into the Alpenglow.

■ Cook also said that the development team for Riverwalk is close to signing with an architect to design a high-end hotel for the east end of that project on Yampa Street. Talks are under way with three or four operators, he added.

Vision 2030 group discuss Valley's Future

Vision 2030 group discuss Valley's Future

Steamboat Springs — Some wanted to preserve Western heritage and others urged more affordable living options, but everyone at Wednesday’s Vision 2030 meeting agreed it will take the community working as a whole to enact positive change in the Yampa Valley.
“What do we want to see here in the year 2030 and what are we afraid we are going to lose?” project manager Tammie Delaney asked. “There are a lot of great things going on in the Yampa Valley, and this meeting is what it’s all about. … Vision 2030 is about looking ahead and making our dreams come true.”

In 1994, a group of community leaders and residents came together to form Vision 2020, a citizen-driven initiative that hosted community discussions about topics including education, transportation, economics, city planning and government.
“Many organizations sprang from 2020, and I think that tonight, that’s what we are all here for — coming together and sharing those things that really matter in our belly,” Delaney said.
About 100 people attended the meeting Wednesday night in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. The crowd broke into small groups for two roundtable discussions. The first focused on what the group valued most about living in the Yampa Valley.
“I believe what makes it so special here is that we have a connection to the place,” said Arianth√© Stettner, a co-founder of Historic Routt County and former member of the Steamboat Springs City Council. “This is a place where one person can have an impact and it’s really easy to make things happen because we have that connection.” Caitlyn McKenzie said what she values most about living in Steamboat Springs is having the “wilderness right out my back door.” “The proximity to some magical places makes it pretty special here,” she said. Ed Allbright said that Western heritage and the spirit of the cowboys makes living in Routt County unique.
“It’s our fairy dust — something intangible that makes this place extra special,” he said.
The second discussion focused on what can be done in the next 20 years to enhance the region’s quality of life.

“We can live and work in this town and that is becoming threatened,” Stettner said. “We need to ensure that our children and grandchildren can afford to live here, and I’m afraid we’ve waited too long.” Marsha Daughenbaugh, a Vision 2030 volunteer, said Wednesday night was the first step in a lengthy three-step process to build from the Vision 2020 efforts and ensure the Yampa Valley is a great place to live. The group plans to spend 2008 exploring how to formalize and implement recommendations provided throughout the meeting process. A Vision 2030 report is planned for March 2009.

“The Vision 2020 report in 1994 addressed a lot of concerns and some of them we haven’t touched on very well — maybe transportation might come to mind right off the bat,” said Daughenbaugh, executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance. “But there were a lot of things we have done that are really important, and our elected officials have helped bring a lot of things to fruition.”

Vision 2020 directly led to the creation of First Impressions of Routt County, the Purchase of Development Rights program, the Routt County Open Lands Plan and Yampa Valley Recycles.
The Community Agriculture Alliance, Yampa Valley Partners and Yampa Valley Land Trust also have roots in the Vision 2020 process. Those in attendance also were asked to participate in an electronic polling session to vote on what common values are shared among Yampa Valley residents. Delaney asked the audience for their most cherished Yampa Valley memories.
Memories of riding to school on horseback, the world’s first Winter Special Olympics, Steam­boat’s Winter Carnival and some racy moments at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs were all volunteered.
YAMPA STREET PROJECT PASSES THROUGH CITY COUNCIL

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an innovative new building for 655 Yampa St. Despite his “yes” vote, Councilman Towny Anderson expressed some concerns about the project. Councilman Towny Anderson said the fact that the proposal meets all of the city standards makes him think it’s time to revisit the standards being applied to new buildings along the river.
“What I’m questioning is our design guidelines for Yampa Street,” Anderson said. “This is going to be a massive structure in a place where I don’t believe it’s what we intended. This is one of those cases of unintended consequences.”

Senior City Planner Jonathan Spence said individual planning commissioners felt the project more than met the guidelines. “They felt it was an exemplary project,” Spence said.
The building, known as 655 Yampa, would replace a white house on the river side of the street with a three-story building containing street-level commercial spaces and a half dozen residential condominiums upstairs. The site is at the intersection of Seventh and Yampa streets.

The plan is notable for its features, including an automated automobile elevator to stack residents’ cars and a covered pedestrian concourse from the streetscape to a courtyard on the river. The concourse would pass beneath one of the dwelling units.
The plans of developers Howard Ulep and Dennis Frank, of Annapolis, Md., and designer Steven Eggleston, of SCE Studio, gained the approval of the city’s Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and were recommended by a 7-0 vote of the Planning Commission.
The same development team is constructing a restaurant/pub about two blocks east, where the Boat House office building formerly stood. Councilwoman Karen Post said she would not consider holding up 655 Yampa, but she understood the questions Anderson was raising.

“Do we want three stories all along the river?” Post asked her colleagues.
Council President Susan Dellinger said the positive recommendation from Historic Preservation, the 7-0 vote from Planning Commission and the recommendation of approval from planning staff were sufficient for her to endorse the project.
Councilman Steve Ivancie said he believes it’s appropriate to be vigilant in protecting the qualities of the river frontage along Yampa Street. However, he said it was too late in the process to “second-guess” the 655 Yampa developers.
“It will create vibrancy in downtown,” Ivancie said.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hayden developments stall
Villages at Hayden, Hidden Springs Ranch hit legal snag
By Melinda Dudley
Sunday, November 4, 2007


Model homes were being worked on last month at the Villages at Hayden subdivision. Primary contractor Robinson Construction alleges it is owed $1.41 million for the Villages at Hayden development.

Hayden — Construction at the Villages at Hayden and Hidden Springs Ranch residential developments has been put on hold because of a legal dispute between the developers and their contractors. Liens have been filed against 4-S Development by Hillsboro, Ore.-based Robinson Construction Co. to the tune of $2.13 million. Robinson Construction claims it is owed $1.41 million for the Villages at Hayden development and more than $700,000 for work at the Hidden Springs Ranch subdivision, according to documents from the Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Construction has been held up at both developments since the liens were filed in September, but sales and reservations are continuing. The developers had hoped to deliver homes to buyers before the first of the year, developer Roger Johnson said. “What is aggravating is how it has impacted our customers, because they’re innocent bystanders in this thing,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, it’s impacted people who want to be able to get into a home.”
Although most buyers still are working with the developers, a small number have had to pull out of their purchases because of the delay, Johnson said. Such was the case with buyers who already had sold their previous homes or those who had a tight timeline for relocating.

Representatives of Robinson Construction declined to comment about the nature or details of their dispute with the developers. Johnson said the liens are a baseless “nuisance.”
“The liens are not valid liens,” Johnson said, adding that there is documentation proving the work has been paid for. “We’ve actually overpaid, because we’ve got work that hasn’t been done yet or wasn’t done properly,” he said. The developers are pursuing the matter with their attorneys, and Johnson said they might have to go to court to get the matter resolved. Although delivery dates are not definite, construction at Hidden Springs Ranch and Lake Village, the first stage of the Villages at Hayden development, is expected to resume by the end of the year, and

Johnson estimated the projects would be back on schedule by spring 2008.
Roughly half of the plots and homes available in the two developments have been sold or are under reservation, Johnson said. Johnson said legal costs from the dispute are not expected to raise prices for homebuyers. “They’re part of the cost of doing business,” he said.

700 in focus
City Council Candidates differ on annexation
By Brandon Gee
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Steamboat Springs — It’s been called everything from the biggest thing to face Steamboat Springs in 30 years to the city’s last chance to confront its affordable housing crisis.
Regardless of where they stand on those claims and others, all 10 candidates for Steamboat Springs City Council agree on one thing: If elected, the potential annexation of the Steamboat 700 development is one of the most — if not the most — important issues they will face in years to come.

Interviews with the candidates reveal that the results of this Tuesday’s election, in which five of the council’s seven seats are up for grabs, could directly affect the future development of 700 acres west of the city — including whether such development goes through.

Candidates offer different opinions about how to negotiate a pre-annexation agreement with 700’s developers and how demanding the city should be with requirements such as infrastructure and community benefits. Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said he and his partners have several contingency plans in place, should the city demand so much that the project is no longer profitable. Mulcahy would not expound on those plans except to say that he might walk away from the project “in a heartbeat” if that happens or sit on the land for 10 years until prices reach “Aspen levels.”
But Mulcahy hopes not, and doesn’t expect, to put those contingency plans to use.
“I don’t expect the community to push back to a point that I’m going to walk away,” he said last week. “We’re here to get this thing done.”
Mulcahy would not respond to any candidate statements leading up to the election. He said he hopes that whoever is elected will be temperate in their requests and work “in collaboration instead of confrontation.”
“I’m not looking for anything special, except that we work in a timely, efficient manner,” Mulcahy said.

No tumbleweeds
At-large candidate and incumbent Councilman Towny Anderson is the candidate who has most often cited Steamboat 700 annexation as the most important issue that will face the next City Council.
“It has the potential to nearly double our population,” he said. “That’s the level of impact, and that’s its remarkable opportunity and potential. … I can’t think of a single other community that has the opportunity that Steamboat has. We literally could define a whole new course in community planning.”
Anderson is also the candidate who spoke strongest for the city sticking to its guns and getting what it needs out of an annexation agreement, without bending to the developer.
“There’s no example of a municipality looking back at an annexation and saying we were too hard on a developer,” Anderson said. “Because this community struggled for so long, there’s a fear that if the developer walked, tumbleweeds would be blowing down Lincoln Avenue. Now if a developer walks, there’s probably going to be 10 more behind him. We’ve been discovered. It’s OK to take the time to get it right.”

Representing a more cautious standpoint is Jon Quinn, candidate for a four-year District 3 seat.
“We’re going to get everything we possibly can out of the 700 development,” Quinn said. “But if the city pushes them too far, their contingency plan is to parcel that lot out into 35-acre lots and at least walk away intact. That would be a disaster. … We need to see through the development of a community there. We don’t need another Marabou.”

Cari Hermacinski, Anderson’s at-large opponent, agreed that it is fair for the city to make strong demands on Mulcahy and his partners, and said success realizing those demands will take skilled negotiators.
“One of the things that Towny Anderson especially points out is that we need a negotiator at the table,” said Hermacinski, who is a lawyer and owns a telecommunications-consulting firm. “I negotiate complex contracts every day. That’s what I do.”

Quinn’s opponent in District 3, Councilwoman Karen Post, said the city has a unique advantage with this development.
“Annexation is the greatest tool a city has to make sure the people who are going to pay for the development will also pay for the impact on the city,” Post said. “It’s not that developers are bad, but people are going to want to make what they can make.”

Safety first

District 2 candidate Paul Hughes said perfecting the annexation agreement “is going to take some artful discussions.”
“You only get one chance to get it right,” Hughes said. “I think the City Council has an obligation to get the very best deal it can from a developer, who, after all, needs to become part of the city to develop.”
Hughes’ opponent, Meg Bentley, could not be reached for this story. But at an Oct. 23 forum, Bentley expressed concern about the amount of mixed-use development already being allowed in the city and the effects it may have on existing and already struggling local businesses.
“Why should we add to that pressure by permitting too much competition too fast?” she said.
Vince Arroyo, a candidate for the two-year District 3 seat, said the annexation of Steamboat 700 raises a number of concerns, from traffic to meeting an increased level of public safety services. “You don’t have enough safety for those houses yet,” he said.

Arroyo’s opponent, Walter Magill, said he hasn’t reviewed enough information to say what he specifically would hope to get out of an annexation agreement. He did note, however, that his background as a civil engineer gives him unique understanding of the infrastructure issues at hand.
Magill said he hopes that City Council’s demands don’t hold up the development indefinitely.
“I think that’s a possibility,” Magill said. “I think they could put the whole development on hold. It’s going to take a series of meetings, but I don’t think the annexation should take three years.”

No fear

City Council President and District 1 candidate Susan Dellinger said the Steamboat 700 development and annexation present a number of strains on Steamboat’s infrastructure, from schools to sewers. She said the method by which infrastructure improvements are funded would be the biggest question when looking at an annexation agreement, followed by how the development is zoned.
Dellinger’s opponent, Scott Myller, said he is well suited to confront the challenges of annexation.
“I’ve been on both sides of the table as a (Steamboat Springs) planning commissioner and as an architect on the construction side,” he said. “I think I understand the desires on the one hand and the limitations on the other.”
Dellinger said the review and work she has already put in as a council member in anticipation of the annexation puts her in the better position to address the issue.
While their approaches differ, the candidates as a whole, like Mulcahy, believe the development and the annexation will go through.
“It’s described in our area plan as the only place our community is going to grow,” Myller said. “If that’s true … we better not lose it.”

Anderson said the annexation has to have either a neutral or a beneficial effect on the city. The key to achieving that, he said, is for both sides to be earnest and open in negotiating their mutual goals.
“You don’t negotiate out of fear,” Anderson said. “That’s a terrible way to negotiate.”
Quinn agreed that the attitude with which discussions are approached could make all the difference.
“In my opinion, we’re going to get more in the end if we approach this from a cooperative spirit as opposed to an adversarial spirit,” he said. “In my opinion, we’re going to be in a better bargaining position if we work with them, not against them.”
Mobile homes enjoy new stature
By Tom Ross
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Steamboat Springs — Residents of two Steamboat Springs neighborhoods are translating mobile homes into newfound security and upward mobility.

Permanent structures are beginning to replace trailer homes at Hilltop Homes in Old Town Steamboat. And a couple of miles away at the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, residents are investing in substantial remodels of longstanding mobile homes. At Fish Creek, the catalyst for such investment was the recent purchase of the park by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
For 20-year Steamboat resident and professional fishing guide Keith Hale, the change in ownership means an opportunity to own his first home.
“It’s not a great mobile home, but it’s that or keep on renting,” Hale said. “And it’s on a great lot. It’s exactly 68 steps to the river.”

Mobile-home parks are achieving new stature in mountain towns, where the price of entry-level housing is skyrocketing. At Smuggler Park, in the heart of Aspen, aluminum mobile homes from the 1980s are being sold for as much as $600,000. And ambitious homeowners who build small footprint frame homes on Smuggler Park lots can see their property values crest $1 million.
Residents of Fish Creek Mobile Home Park are beginning to feel secure enough to sink five figures into improving their homes. The change has come about since early September, when the Yampa Valley Housing Authority closed on the purchase of the mobile-home park from Bob and Audrey Enever for $3.2 million. That milestone ensures the park won’t be sold to a developer who could evict the trailer owners in favor of building luxury housing.
“That’s the only reason I decided to buy there,” Hale said.

Hale is one of the fortunate ones — two other mobile-home parks, Westland and Trailer Haven, have disappeared in the past five years in favor of redevelopment. Mobile homes (where the owners do not own the lots) are sold like motor vehicles, he explained.

The Hilltop Homes owners are five years ahead of the process under way at Fish Creek. The 17 owners collectively purchased land in their neighborhood from their landlords with the help of the old Regional Affordable Living Foundation in June 2000. They won city approval to subdivide the land in June 2002. That was the key step that led to individual ownership of the building lots. Today, a few residents are either constructing stick-built homes or have brought in modular structures to replace old mobile homes.

At Fish Creek, the Housing Authority has formed a committee to oversee the park’s operations and explore the possibility of converting the park to ownership units for homeowners who desire that option.
Cheap homes hard to find
Sub-$500K market shrinking quickly
By Tom Ross
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Steamboat Springs — Properties priced below $500,000 in Routt County still account for a large chunk of transaction volume. However, the supply is drying up, and the monthly number of sales of properties less than a half-million dollars has declined by 32 percent since the first quarter of 2007.

Mirroring that trend, the dollar volume generated by sales below $500,000 is declining sharply in terms of percent of gross dollar volume in the county. And the gap between costly and cheaper real estate sales is widening with the growing number of sales greater than $3 million.
Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Co. reported that six transactions valued at more than $3 million closed in September, bringing the year-to-date total to 23. Those six properties had an aggregate gross dollar volume of $22.6 million, or 24 percent of the month’s total of $94.9 million.

Also in September, sales of all properties valued at less than $500,000 accounted for 57 transactions. They had an aggregate value of 17.73 million, or 18 percent of the Routt County total for the month.

The entry-level numbers are down from July, when 77 transactions accounted for $24.8 million and 22 percent of gross dollar volume.
Sub-$500,000 transactions totaled 84 in March and represented 30 percent of gross dollar volumes.

Realtor Jon Wade, a broker owner at Colorado Group Realty, said he thinks city ordinances requiring developers of new housing projects to provide affordable units are playing a role in the trend.

Wade said earlier this year, there was an awareness growing in the marketplace that modestly priced multi-family housing units — such as those in the Whistler Road neighborhood — never would be replicated at comparable prices. That awareness prompted buyers to take action, and prices responded.

The need for market-rate units to subsidize the affordable units contributes to higher prices, he said. “It makes it really hard for the middle class to get market-rate affordable units,” Wade said. “I want my friends to be able to get affordable housing. But I think there are ways to do it that doesn’t drive up the price.”