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.”