Thursday, December 27, 2007

Community Center Update

On the west end of town near the Stock Bridge Center sits a building that will be externally complete by February according to Rick Gliniecki who is a project manager for Fox Construction. Interior finishes will continue through winter. When the new Steamboat Springs Community Center is complete it will be a $3.6 million facility which can hold up to 383 people. The old community center once sat near the Bud Werner memorial library on 13th street, but was demolished to make room for the library expansion.

A heavy reliance on recycled materials is part of the LEED certification process. LEED is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a voluntary program to define and measure “green,” or environmentally friendly, buildings. The buildings cost has been increased by 8-20% because of its use of green building materials, but did not slow the building process or make it more difficult. The cost will be off-set in the running of the building since it may prove to be more energy efficient and much better for the environment by using recycled materials and purchasing wood from suppliers who practice good forest management. Upon completion, the Routt County Council on aging will move into the building. The community center will eventually be available to rent for weddings and other events.

To read the full story go to and look for Brandon Gee's article entitled Builders aim for February.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wildhorse Meadows - Trailhead Lodge

I was fortuante enough to attend a hard hat tour last week of the new Wildhorse Meadows complex and Trailhead Lodge - WOW! This is going to be spectacular. So far, in the complex the single family home sites called The Range have all been released and sold. This summer and fall over 70% of the Trailhead lodge was placed under contract at a special event at the Denver Botanical Gardens in a single day. There are still condos available, but prices will continue to rise.

The Trailhead Lodge is a residential resort community in the heart of the Wildhorse complex. It will be surrounded by walking trails and amenities such as the Wildhorse General Store and Ranch House. It is going to be a five story owners lodge in a circular shape above the Steamboat Springs Tennis Center & the Meadows parking lot, and just below Mount Werner Circle and the townhomes at Stonewood. There will be a work out area, BBQ area, lap pool, and outdoor grottos that rival the natural Strawberry Park Hot Springs. A Super Gondola will travel from the Trailhead entrance to the base of the new One Steamboat Place, A Timbers Development.
An open large fire pit will be a gathering area for owners and guest. They have poured the underground parking garage and are beginning the main floor now. Some roads, and utilties are on site. Each unit will have underground parking and ski lockers.

In phase two the Ranch House learning center, adult only pool, and Kid pool areas will be built. The super gondola will link the Wildhorse complex and the meadows parking lot to One Steamboat Place which is at the base of the ski mountain. The Gondola will be free and take only three minutes to shuttle a large number of people from the Wildhorse complex to the ski area.

The final approved plan shows 567 residential units, including 41 single family lots (The Range)and 80 affordable units for residents. The approved plan shows 2 large condo hotels (one is the owner occupied Trailhead Lodge - the other is a hotel close to the super gondola). The town homes in the center of the development and four groups of condo buildings along Mount Werner Circle will be released in the spring of 2008. If you want more information contact me, Michelle at (970) 846-1086. I will be happy to include you on an automatic e-mail notification of updates to this project or any other new development.

Keep watching for updates on the Trailhead Lodge, Wildhorse Meadows, One Steamboat Place, and other Base Area Developments. Remember I am happy to help...

Why & Who - Steamboat Property Purchases

Why and Who - Steamboat Property Purchases:
Intrawest’s $265 million March purchase of Steamboat Ski Area.

The $53.9 million purchase of Thunderhead Lodge and Ski Time Square by Cafritz Investments.

The acquistition of the Mary Brown Property on the West end of town by Steamboat 700, LLC - there may be as many as 2000 homes built.

Demand for real estate is high in resort communities - who wouldn't want to live here?

Developers have made a lot of the high dollar purchases for 2007, but baby boomers compile a majority of the single purchases.

Baby boomers are the primary contributors to Ski Town property purchases, as they reach retirement age. They are purchasing primary homes, second homes, and investment properties.

Baby Boomers demand for vacation properties is not expected to peak until at least 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Routt county conserves 11,525 acres of open space

TODAY Newspaper Story
Easements across Routt County foster wildlife, preserve open space
By Brandon Gee (Contact)
Sunday, December 23, 2007

Steamboat Springs — Since 1997, Routt County has helped conserve 11,525 acres at a cost of about $4.7 million. That comes to a $408-per-acre cost to county taxpayers.
That’s quite a bargain, ac­­cording to county officials, and a testament to the success of their Purchase of Development Rights Program.
Last week, two new properties became the latest participants in the program. Landowner Robert Waltrip put 2,711 acres of his Wolf Mountain Ranch near Hayden into a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy.
“This project will provide a wide variety of wildlife activity and key winter habitat,” Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said.
Also, James and Barbara Ross have similarly protected 170 acres north of Pearl Lake State Park.
“It is an area that did have the potential for expensive real-estate development,” Mitsch Bush said. “The view sheds here are tremendous.”
When a landowner donates a conservation easement, they are permanently protecting the land from development. This reduces the value of the restricted land, but landowners’ compensation isn’t just the knowledge that the land will never be turned into a subdivision or shopping mall. There are significant tax breaks associated with the move, sometimes worth millions depending on the details of the easement.
Also, some entities, such as Routt County and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, will compensate landowners for the land-value loss to encourage more people to enter into conservation easements.
“The purpose is to compensate the landowner with cash to preclude development,” said Ron Roundtree, chairman of the PDR Advisory Board.
The county helped fund Waltrip’s easement, to the tune of $369,000. The Colorado Division of Wildlife kicked in $1.58 million.
Partnerships such as the one between the county and the Division of Wildlife are common, and on average each county dollar spent is matched by $4 elsewhere.
“This property is not only a working cattle ranch, the landowner has taken great steps to improve wildlife habitat at every turn,” said Jim Haskins, Area Wildlife Manager for the Division of Wildlife.
“Beyond sharp-tailed grouse and greater sage grouse, this is important transition range for deer and elk, so getting these protections in place is a big win for wildlife.”
Waltrip himself contributed about 50 percent of the easement’s value, which means he is not being reimbursed for 50 percent of the property value lost by placing it in a conservation easement.
The county contributed $70,000 for the Ross easement, with the couple contributing 92 percent of the easement’s value.
“The intent with most of it is to preserve the current state,” said County Commissioner Doug Monger, who noted that the lands are still private despite the county funding. “That’s our form of open space.”
To participate in Routt County’s program, landowners must have their conservation easements held by an approved sponsor such as The Nature Conservancy or the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust.
“We work with these sponsors to make sure facts are accurate,” Roundtree said.
According to C.J. Mucklow, president of the Routt County Cattlemen, the organizations that hold the land trusts play an important role beyond the application process as well.
“Their job is to enforce the terms of the easement over time,” Mucklow said. “They annually monitor to make sure they live up to the terms of the easement.”
Monger praised the PDR Program as an excellent incentive for land-rich but cash-poor farmers and ranchers to stay in agriculture.
Christy Belton, who operates the previously protected Warren Ranch with her husband Matt, agreed.
“One of the benefits of these conserved lands is it allows people like us to still do ag,” Belton said. “In our situation, especially, it’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship.”
The relationship is believed to be wonderful for the local economy as well.
Agriculture is estimated to make up more than $28 million of the county economy.
The PDR Program is funded by a 1.5 mill property tax increase approved in 2006, nine years after the program was first approved for a 10-year period.
The 2006 renewal is good for 20 years.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Edgemont Project Approved!

December 21, 2007

The Atira Group, on behalf of the partners of Edgemont, is pleased to announce that on Tuesday, December 18th, 2007 the Edgemont project received unanimous approval by the Steamboat Springs City Council. This date marked the exciting transition from development approvals to the marketing and sale of this much-anticipated product.

Formerly known as Bear Claw III, the three phases of Edgemont will be home to 110 mountain residences and 14 duplexes in total. With unparalleled access to the slopes of Steamboat and to the breathtaking vistas that surround it, Edgemont is truly on the EDGE of everything Steamboat has to offer. Starting in January 2008, the partners of Edgemont will release the first phase of the project to market, consisting of 44 refined mountain residences.

With great pleasure we introduce S&P Destination Properties as the exclusive listing agent for Edgemont. With years of experience in the envisioning, design, marketing and sale of resort and luxury real estate, the S&P team brings a wealth of knowledge to the Edgemont project. Continuing to foster a strong partnership with the local brokerage community is and will remain a top priority for the S&P team.

The Edgemont Preview Center is scheduled to open in January and before our doors open to the general public, we will be hosting an exclusive preview event for local brokers and dignitaries. We are dedicated to providing you with the first glance at new information and updates on the project. Stay tuned, at the start of the New Year we will be in touch regarding the details of the event!

Happy Holidays & Warm Regards,

The Atira Group


Dear Friends and Clients,
If you wish to purchase an exclusive residence in Steamboat Springs, Colorado - this is it! I am happy to represent you. You will enjoy my follow through and diligence in representing you in your Edgemont purchase. Please call me, Michelle Diehl, at (970) 846-1086 and I will get you to where you want to be at the best price attainable....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oak Creek Community Center

Police set sights on community center in downtown Oak Creek
By Melinda Dudley (Contact)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
E-mail story
Steamboat Springs — To give local kids a safe and supervised place to play, the Oak Creek Police Department is working to establish a community center in one of downtown Oak Creek’s vacant storefronts. The center could open its door early next year.
Oak Creek Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio envisions the community center as a place local kids will want to go, with pool and foosball tables, arcade games and a DVD library.
“The idea is to give these kids a place to play and do something, instead of walking around the streets and getting in trouble,” Caterinicchio said. “The kids out here have no place to go.”
The Oak Creek Police Department has been aggressively enforcing loitering and curfew in recent months. While Caterinicchio said he does not like giving kids summonses, the police force does not have a lot of other options at the present time.
While the primary problem in Oak Creek is kids being out late at night without adult supervision, the town has also seen juveniles committing offenses such as vandalism or getting involved in other mischief, such as lighting off fireworks, Caterinicchio said.
Use of the community center would not be restricted only to kids from Oak Creek, but would be available to all of South Routt.
“This would be available to kids from Yampa, Phippsburg, anyone who wants to come,” Caterinicchio said.
When her kids were growing up, they had nothing to do in the summer other than baseball, Oak Creek resident Ann Klumker said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Klumker said. “I hope it happens.”
Creating a safe place with adult supervision is key not just to keeping kids out of trouble in Oak Creek, but also keeping them safe, Caterinicchio said.
“When children are out when they shouldn’t be, they’re vulnerable,” Caterinicchio said. “They’re vulnerable to injury, to accidents. They can be hit by cars. We have registered sex offenders in town.”
The community center not only would serve a great need in South Routt, but would also a proactive way to prevent juveniles from getting into trouble, Caterinicchio said.
“I’m trying to balance my law enforcement with public service, and keep my ears open to needs in the community,” Caterinicchio said.
Caterinicchio has been in talks with businesses and individuals seeking sponsorships, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, which he considers very successful in that community.
The police department will also start participating in the federal Volunteers in Police Service program in January, and the community center could be under its auspices, Caterinicchio said.

Four Steamboat Projects Receive Approvals

Developers cure concerns
The Aviator project revisions win over Planning Commission
By Brandon Gee (Contact)
Friday, December 14, 2007
E-mail story
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Steamboat Springs — Developers of The Aviator made enough revisions to their project to win over all but one member of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission on Thursday.
Commissioners voted, 3-1, to approve the 94,000-square-foot, light-industrial project, which will be built on an elevated plateau known as Marble Hill, across Routt County Road 129 from the Steamboat Springs Airport.

Commissioners Kathi Meyer, Steve Lewis and Rich Levy supported the project, citing improvements to architecture, colors and visual impacts. Commissioner Dick Curtis opposed the project because it will not include the construction of a sidewalk. The project had the blessing of city planning staff, which agreed with the applicant that the construction of a sidewalk was not feasible due to the site’s topography and other difficulties. The city’s Public Works Department agreed in a letter. Curtis, however, was not convinced, citing his concern for safety on an accident-prone stretch of road. “We have been firm — very firm — in the past on industrial sites providing sidewalks,” Curtis said. “It seems to me we’re swaying from that commitment, and I cannot sway from that tonight.”

Other commissioners noted city staff’s recommendation to waive the sidewalk requirement, but Curtis noted it was not Planning Commission’s role to rubber stamp staff’s opinion. “If we were to follow the planning staff’s recommendation 100 percent of the time, there would be no need for Planning Commission,” Curtis said.

Residents of the Game Trails subdivision, who spoke in opposition to the project when it was tabled in its first appearance before Planning Commission in October, attended Thursday’s meeting as well. A representative of the subdivision also cited safety concerns, but said the project’s aesthetics had improved substantially. In addition to architectural changes and the implementation of darker colors, developers also reduced the size of a key building. In October, a photo-illustration that showed an artificially superimposed live-work building looming over C.R. 129 was among the reasons cited by planning commissioners for not approving the project.
Two of the living units were removed from the top of the building, and architect Brian Bavosi also noted that the original photo-illustration was inaccurate and made the building seem far more imposing than it actually will be. Grading and the staking of buildings allowed for a better representation Thursday, Bavosi said. “In this case, we got it grossly wrong,” Bavosi said. “We feel we damned ourselves by providing a photo illustration that was not accurate and not correct.”

Also Thursday, the Planning Commission critiqued the city’s Open Space and Trails Master Plan, which is currently in draft form. Parks, Open Space and Recreation Services was before the commission with plans to expand the building on Howelsen Parkway that houses their offices and maintenance facilities from just under 10,000 square feet to just under 17,000 square feet. The project is partially funded by a state Energy Impact Grant, and is intended to address issues such as insufficient workspace, lack of storage and a need to prepare for growth during the next decade. The expansion was approved unanimously.

Also approved unanimously were two applications for office buildings. One is a 13,000-square-foot development at the corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Curve Court near the offices of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. The other is a 6,900-square-foot development in the 1500 block of Pine Grove Road.
— To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210
or e-mail

City Council Plan for 700 LLC Annexation

Council preps for annexation
Steamboat Springs — In preparation of the “imminent” annexation of the planned Steamboat 700 development west of the city, the Steamboat Springs City Council held a review session Tuesday night on the particulars of the process.
City Attorney Tony Let­tunich’s presentation was similar to one he gave to City Council in October, but several events led the repeat session. Five new council members were elected in November, and the developers of Steamboat 700, who propose more than 2,000 homes in the project, have since turned their “presubmittal package” in to city planning staff. Plus, city staff and the developers have begun meeting on a regular basis to establish an agreed-upon process for moving forward.
Lettunich modified his general presentation from October to address Steamboat 700 in particular. Although a complex and subjective subject, it doesn’t appear there will be any statutory limitations that could stand in the way of the annexation.
One of the first public meetings scheduled to discuss the project is Jan. 15, when the City Council, Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and possibly the Routt County Board of Commissioners will hold a joint “scoping” meeting to identify areas of concern. That meeting will be preceded by an open house from 3 to 5 p.m.

Steamboat Grand Rates No. 29 by Conde Nast

Steamboat Grand Honored by Conde Nast

The Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Condominiums has been highlighted as No. 29 in Conde Nast’s list of the Top 50 Ski Hotels in North America in the December 2007 issue of Conde Nast Traveler.
The Streamboat Grand joined 12 other Colorado properties in the Top 30, including the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Snowmass Club, Little Nell, St. Regis Resort Aspen, Sonnenalp Resort of Vail, Hyatt Grand Aspn, Inn at Beaver Creek, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Telluride’s Peaks Resort, Charter at Beaver Creek and the Beaver Creek Lodge.

Condos Below $300,000 Going Fast

Steamboat condominium and townhome sales in the sub-$300,000 range may be an endangered species. The entry-level price range in the Steamboat market has been very active late this fall, but current listings suggest the supply is dwindling. In early 2007 you could purchase a small condo for $200,000, and now it’s $250,000 or more.

The next round of entry-level sales may see prices rise but some speculate that buyers have a grace period until some of the more high-end condominiums at Trailhead Lodge and One Steamboat Place are complete and occupied. Entry-level condominium prices may not jump this fast for much longer, until Steamboat sees the new projects finished and people move in.

Research by Bruce Carta at Land Title Guarantee Co. shows that in October alone, 18 finished residential units in Routt County sold for prices less than $300,000. The units ranged from $210,000 for a home in Phippsburg to $280,000 for a condominium at the Pine project.
Doug Labor at Buyers Resource Real Estate searched the multiple listing service for condominiums listed for prices below $250,000 and found nine as of Nov. 1. Labor said that year to date, as of Nov. 1, 78 condominiums had sold in that price range. Those homes include eight small condominiums at The Rockies, just down Mount Werner Road from the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Stafford said he sold a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo at The Rockies to an acquaintance for $203,000 early this year. It had been listed at $205,000.
Stafford said he told his buyer that if he were willing to put some money into remodeling and rent it out, within a few years it would have a chance to appreciate.
It’s important for people investing in low-end condos to understand, Stafford said, that if they hope to get top dollar, they must be willing to invest in improving finishes such as countertops, appliances and cabinetry to make a favorable impression on buyers and remain contemporary.
“You still have to wow the consumer,” Stafford said.

Parts of this article have been modified from its original version.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205
or e-mail

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

City Council Critiques Ski Time Square Proposal by Atira Group (Cafritz Interests)

Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council members will tell developers today what they think of a proposed redevelopment that would replace Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge with more than 1 million square feet of new development. The current properties total 234,449 square feet.

The Atira Group, acting in partnership with Cafritz Inter­ests of Washington, D.C., presented its pre-application for the transformation of the properties at a previous City Council meeting, and they return tonight to get feedback from City Council.
Mark Matthews, a vice president of development with Atira, said the pre-application process would allow him to gauge what the “hot-button issues” are before moving on to the more formal stages of the planning process.
There were plenty of hot-button issues when the proposal was put before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, not the least of which had to do with the project’s size. Councilman Scott Myller was a planning commissioner before his election to City Council last month and was still on the Planning Commission when the Ski Time Square pre-application was discussed. Myller said Monday that he is concerned that Atira proposes to reduce commercial space from 58,131 square feet to 46,578 square feetwhile increasing the total square footage by hundreds of thousands. “It seems like if you increase the population base, you should increase commercial, as well,” Myller said.

Matthews said he plans to have an economic study done before finalizing the commercial component, but he suggested that the existing retail has fallen on hard times and that a reduction in commercial space might be appropriate. “We want the right amount,” Matthews said. “We don’t want too much. Retail up there hasn’t been the best endeavor.”
While he doesn’t necessarily have a problem with the proposed size of Atira’s project, Myller questioned whether others would have an appetite for a 1 million-square-foot project that is as tall as 10 stories in some spots. City Manager Alan Lanning said the quality of the development, not its size, would determine its success with city officials.

“I don’t think about the numbers so much as the quality of the development,” said Lanning, who noted that the city envisions dense base area development. “That’s what the base area is intended to be — very dense.” Myller said he hopes developers will take more time with the massive redevelopment. He noted at the Planning Com­mission meeting that the public spaces between the buildings need as much attention as the buildings themselves.
“We’re used to designing buildings, but in this case it’s almost as if they need to design the room,” Myller said Monday. “Right now it seems like they’re in a huge hurry to see how much net sellable space they can put up.”

TODAY's (Local Steamboat Paper) View of Intrawest

Steamboat Springs — The 2007-08 ski season didn’t get off to the start Intrawest and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials may have hoped for. A warm, dry autumn brought little natural snow and limited opportunities for artificial snowmaking. Opening day was delayed by more than a week, and then the new Christie Peak Express six-passenger lift encountered mechanical problems on Day 2. The gondola, which begins operating today, has been out of service so a new haul rope could be delivered and installed. There have been other hiccups as well.
Truth be told, these issues are little more than minor inconveniences. Of course, they also provide ammo for those locals who always find a way to complain about Ski Corp. and its parent company.
If anything, we think Intrawest’s first 10 months of ownership paint a rather rosy picture for the future of the ski area. For years, the biggest complaint about American Skiing Co. was that it didn’t have the capital to invest in the ski area. While other ski resorts made significant on-mountain improvements, Steamboat got by with Band-Aids.
Since purchasing the ski area from ASC for $265 million in March, Intrawest has spent approximately $16 million in capital improvements, and in the process checked off a number of the proposals included in a master plan update developed by Ski Corp. in 2004.
ASC tackled a few of the plan’s proposals, replacing the Sunshine lift with a used lift from The Canyons ski area in Utah and replacing the Burgess Creek lift with a three-passenger chair powered by wind energy credits.
Intrawest already has completed some of the plan’s most ambitious — and expensive — proposals. The installation of the six-passenger Christie Peak Express, the removal of the Headwall, Southface and Christie lifts, improved base area snowmaking, and the major re-grade of Headwall are accomplishments not to be overlooked. The skiing experience for visitors and beginning skiers is significantly better today than it was at the close of the 2006-07 ski season.
Replacing the gondola’s haul rope has been on the radar screen for years. Intrawest wasted little time in making sure the problem was addressed.
Intrawest’s purchase of the ski area and its early commitment to capital improvements is no doubt influencing other private development at the base area. On Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs City Council was presented with early plans for a proposed 1 million-square-foot redevelopment of Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge. While those plans likely will evolve before final approval, they represent the kind of investment developers are making in Steamboat’s base area — long considered the resort’s Achilles heel. An urban renewal authority already has funded needed public infrastructure improvements at the base area.
The Steamboat Ski Area is the most critical component of our resort economy. And as we’ve said before, its success has a direct impact on jobs, wages, retail and residential growth and tax revenues and an indirect impact on everyone who calls this community home.
While Intrawest’s Steamboat legacy is far from written, the first chapter gives us reason to be optimistic about the future of tourism and the ski area here in Routt County.

360 Ranch (Steamboat West) Withdraws Application

Steamboat Springs — Fearing denial from the Routt County Board of Commissioners, the developers of a controversial rural subdivision west of Steamboat Springs withdrew their application from consideration Tuesday.

The project, known as 360 Ranch, narrowly escaped the Routt County Planning Commission last month with a 5-4 vote recommending approval. That vote followed a failed motion to deny the project. In Tuesday’s public hearing, Brian Bavosi of Vertical Arts announced the withdrawal of the application but proceeded with a PowerPoint presentation of plans for the land, which Virginian Hank Wilton purchased in February for $6.74 million.

Bavosi said he felt he followed the direction of county staff — Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips recommended the project for approval — and expressed frustration that the project is being met with mixed feelings. Bavosi said he withdrew the application due to county regulations that would have prevented the development, if denied, from returning for reconsideration within the next year.

Developers proposed an 11-lot “land preservation subdivision,” or LPS, on 320 acres. The developers are entitled to nine lots under state law. Using LPS regulations, they could be awarded two bonus lots in exchange for clustering the home sites on one portion of the property, thus preserving traditional agricultural activities on dedicated open space.
Plans also included two “remainder parcels” just west of Steamboat Springs city limits and within the future urban growth boundary described in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. Most of the contention regarding the 360 Ranch proposal concerned these remainder parcels, and developers’ request for an exception that would allow denser housing on the parcels if they are someday annexed into the city.

A 40-year question
Phillips said Tuesday that Planning Commissioners who voted against the project felt the developers were “double dipping” by seeking the LPS bonus lots while at the same time anticipating future development on the remainder parcels.
County Attorney John Merrill said the application was not consistent with county regulations, which say remainder parcels can only be considered for development after 40 years. Merrill said that when county regulations clash with provisions in a master plan document — such as the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan — the regulations should prevail.
Bavosi thought his plan would be allowed under language in the area plan that discusses “hold zones” that can be considered for future dense development, but acknowledged Tuesday that others might disagree.
“This might be trying to fit a round peg in a square hole,” Bavosi said. “Right now, from what we’re hearing, everyone might not be comfortable with this. … Hopefully I can get some direction soon.”

County Commissioner Nan­cy Stahoviak said commissioners had no idea the application would be withdrawn. She took issue with Bavosi’s implication that the application would be denied and said all three commissioners came to the hearing with an open mind.
“We did not tell our planning staff we were not going to approve the project,” Stahoviak said.
Stahoviak agreed with Merrill’s assessment that the provisions in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan do not exempt projects from county regulations, specifically the 40-year wait before additional residential density can be considered.
Stahoviak said the developers now have an opportunity to make a fresh start.
“The bottom line is, moving forward, they have the opportunity to come back with something of a conceptual nature for input,” Stahoviak said.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Highmark Trouble

Highmark developers sue buyers
Steamboat Ventures: Purchasers’ failure to close a breach of contract

Sunday, December 2, 2007
The Highmark is at the highly visible corner of Apr├ęs Ski Way and Village Drive, across the street from Snowflower condominiums. Construction on The Chad-wick, as The Highmark was previously known, began in August 2003. It ceased in January 2004 after the original developer said rising construction costs had exceeded the business plan. Work on the building did not resume until September 2005 after the city of Steamboat Springs approved value engineering efforts made to bring the project within financial constraints. The building was complete in June of this year. Steamboat’s troubled The Highmark luxury condominium project appears to have hit another in a string of impasses that have left the six-story building unoccupied more than four years after its groundbreaking.

Terry Drahota of general contractor Drahota Construction confirmed his firm had gone as far as filing a notice of intent to file a $1.54 million lien against The Highmark developers this year. The lien never was filed because the notice of intent triggered a payment from the bank in Georgia. “The job was completed, and we’ve been paid in full,” Drahota said. “It turned out real good, and we’re really happy with that. We had a real positive outcome.”

Michelle Marsh, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Concord Wilshire Partners, expressed enthusiasm for Steamboat’s real estate environment in remarks made to “Business Wire” at the end of December 2006. However, she did not respond to an e-mail query made in regard to this article. Marsh told Business Wire that Intrawest’s purchase of Steamboat would level the playing field with Vail and Aspen in terms of the competition for condominium market share. She added that Steamboat (Ski Area) generates continuous cash flow that fosters community development. She called that “music to the ears of developers and investors in the area.”

Developer Steamboat Ven­tures Ltd. has filed a lawsuit in Routt County Court seeking to find seven condominium purchasers in breach of contract. However, the attorney for the defendants says Steamboat Ventures is attempting to force his clients into default so they can reclaim the units and market them at the higher prices now prevalent in the Steamboat market.

“The buyers (defendants) I represent executed contracts under favorable terms at a time when the developers needed pre-sales in order to secure pre-construction financing,” Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Bart Houston said. “Now (the developers) want to terminate the contracts and retain the earnest money. They’ve told us they’re not going to deliver the units.”
Despite the lawsuit, there were signs of activity at the building near the base of Mount Werner this week. Construction workers were laying stone flooring in the lobby and preparing to finish the health club and owners’ club. People on those jobs said they’ve been told the Highmark soon will be managed as a hotel.

The contracts that are the crux of the lawsuit have an aggregate value of almost $9 million. Contracted purchase prices began at $1.05 million and went up to $1.478 million. With the luxury One Steamboat Place coming out of the ground across the street, all of them have realized substantial equity prior to closing on their units. Houston said it’s apparent to him that the developers have seen Steamboat’s real estate market rise substantially and don’t want to close the sales at out-of-date prices.

Steamboat Ventures negotiated a $20 million promissory note secured by the assets in October 2005, which extended the original construction loan until Oct. 30, 2007. Integrity Bank of Alpharetta, Ga., holds the promissory note. Steamboat Ventures shares members with Los Angeles real estate development firm Concord Wilshire Partners. Steve Sirang is a principal in both entities. He has consistently declined to return phone calls from the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Sirang was not the original developer but was taken on as a general partner with Richard Friedman when the latter was trying to restart the project. Sirang’s Los Angeles-based Concord Wilshire Partners helped satisfy outstanding liens filed against the development by local construction contractors and subcontractors.

Steamboat Ventures’ suit in Routt County appears on one level to be a dispute about contract language. It was originally filed in June. The defendants, who come from several states, retained Houston to represent them. A series of motions and requests for extensions had unfolded until the trial date was finally set Oct. 5. In their claim for relief, the plaintiffs are asking the court to affirm a breach of contract and ask for the 10 percent earnest money on the contracts, which represent an aggregate value of $8.98 million.

Philip Quatrochi, the attorney for the plaintiffs, claims the defendants breached their contracts by failing to live up to a requirement that as a perquisite to closing they provide information verifying their financial ability and credit worthiness. He also wrote that the defendants’ failure to close is a “breach of each defendant’s duty of good faith and fair dealing under the contract.”
The defendants acknowledge they have not taken any steps to close on their contracts, nor did they seek the return of their earnest money. They further responded that they have not waived their rights under the contract. Instead, they counter that they are not obligated to close because Steamboat Ventures has not lived up to a contract term that requires the developer to provide them with a notarized accounting of the value of any closings that have taken place, as well as any upgrades offered to those buyers.

Houston said the contracts his clients signed give them the right to be the last buyers to close on their units. The plaintiffs counter that contract clause is “unenforceable” because it would unreasonably allow the plaintiffs to prolong the delays indefinitely.