Friday, November 9, 2007

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.