First Tracks treks on
Project includes 94 deed-restricted units near ski base
By Brandon Gee / Steamboat Pilot/TODAY
Friday, January 25, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 6-1, to recommend approval of the First Tracks housing project that will bring 94 deed-restricted condominiums to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
First Tracks is a component of the Wildhorse Meadows development that proposes 1 million square feet of residential space and 35,000 square feet of commercial space. The Steamboat Springs City Council approved a preliminary plat and development plan for the entire project in July 2006. First Tracks is proposed for a parcel just east of the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.
Mariana Ishida, development manager for Wildhorse Meadows developer Resort Ventures West, called First Tracks “Steamboat’s most anticipated affordable housing.” The project includes 76 affordable housing units required of Wildhorse Meadows, 18 units required of the One Steamboat Place development and two market-rate units. City ordinances require developers to provide deed-restricted, affordable units in addition to market-rate housing and commercial spaces.
In approving the project, the majority of commissioners echoed Ishida’s enthusiasm.
“This does seem like a great project,” Commissioner Rich Levy said. “I’m excited to see affordable housing coming on line and on site.”
Despite the blessing of city staff — in a report that noted no inconsistencies with city codes or variance requests — the project was debated for two hours by the commission Thursday. In the end, Chairman Steve Lewis was the only commissioner to vote against the project, saying it was inconsistent with the plans approved in 2006.
The original development plan showed 11 townhouse buildings on the parcel. The current proposal is for four condominium buildings. Lewis said he felt the proposal was “lower class” than the original.
“It’s simply not what we were looking at from the beginning,” Lewis said. “It just isn’t close enough to what I was considering when I approved the original site plan.”
Another major point of discussion in Thursday’s hearing could foretell the future consideration of other Wildhorse projects. Commissioners questioned how First Tracks was meeting its requirement for on-site amenities. Debate centered on whether amenities for all of Wildhorse Meadows, but not on the First Tracks parcel, counted.
“It’s getting a little shady what counts as an amenity,” Levy said. “The further we get away from this project, the less valuable I think the amenities are.”
Architect Eric Smith said amenities such as a proposed gondola from Wildhorse Meadows to the Steamboat Ski Area and a sledding hill would benefit the residents of First Tracks and should be counted.
“Just being part of Wildhorse Meadows is a huge amenity,” Smith said.
In the end, commissioners followed a city staff recommendation that the developer should show amenities are being provided on-site as a condition of approval.
“I do agree … that having a sledding hill a quarter of a mile or an eighth of a mile away, that’s not really an amenity for this site,” said Tom Leeson, director of planning and community development.
Also Tuesday, commissioners gave their unanimous approval to a 5,250-square-foot office building proposed for the corner of Oak and Fourth streets. In its fourth appearance before the Planning Commission, a proposed addition to the Sears on Shield Drive received a unanimous recommendation for approval after reaching an agreement with city staff regarding sidewalk construction.
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