Buying to sell
Commercial spots nearly full in downtown developments
By Melinda Dudley/ Steambot Pilot/TODAY
Sunday, January 6, 2008
The new year will bring plenty of change to downtown Steamboat Springs, as hundreds of new residential and commercial tenants are scheduled to move into a number of mixed-use projects, and the next wave of development is scheduled to break ground.
Although residential condominium sales downtown saw a slow end to 2007, developers expect sales to speed up as the projects near completion and are reporting extremely high demand for commercial space. At mixed-use developments under construction downtown, buying or leasing opportunities for businesses and retailers are all but gone.
Lincoln Avenue’s Alpen Glow, The Victoria and Howelsen Place developments are on schedule for completion later this year, with River Walk to break ground on the east side of downtown after the spring thaw. Two additional projects on Yampa Street also are in the planning stages.
Commercial demand was expected to be high, with the planned developments adding more than 200 units to downtown, developer Jim Cook said. “That’s a market unto itself,” Cook said. “The affordable housing units aside, these people are going to have a considerable amount of disposable income.”
Commercial space at Alpenglow, Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street — and at its sister development, Howelsen Place, one block away — has all been “spoken for,” said broker Joe Cashen of Colorado Group Realty. Colorado Group Realty has announced two of the commercial tenants at Alpenglow — All That Jazz will be the ground floor’s corner anchor, and Sleeping Giant Gallery also will relocate to the building. The two established Steamboat businesses, and a number of other unspecified commercial tenants, will be able to begin finishing work on their spaces in about two months, with targeted June 1 opening days. Six residential units remain available at Alpenglow — three townhomes and three condominiums. Sales were slow at the end of the year.
“Real estate in general takes a lull in November and December,” Cashen said. “It’s the end of the tax year, and everybody’s spending money on presents.”
Now that ski season is in full swing and the projects are nearing completion, the remaining units are expected to go quickly.
“There’s a lot of fresh eyes coming to Steamboat this year, and this is their first glimpse of downtown,” Cashen said. “None of these projects broke ground when they were here skiing last year.” Downtown projects have seen two types of residential buyers, according to Cook — those who take advantage of better prices and get in early, and those who want to wait and see, and literally be able to “touch and feel” the project before they buy.
The Victoria, 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue, is on track for construction to be completed in June and condo occupancy to be delivered to tenants early this summer, said Prudential Steamboat Realty broker/owner Pam Vanatta, who is listing the development’s residential condominiums. Prudential Steamboat Realty plans to begin offering tours of the project to potential residents later this month. No contracts have been signed for The Victoria’s seven residential units, but Vanatta is hoping the tours will lure buyers. “We feel as it nears completion, and people see the beauty of the units, (sales) will pick up,” Vanatta said. “With The Victoria only having seven residential units, people are going to see a lot of opportunity in terms of privacy and the quality of the construction.” Floor plans start at one bedroom with just more than 1,000 square feet of living space, listed at $969,000, and work up to a 2,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home priced at more than $2 million. On the ground level, The Victoria’s corner anchor will be The Diplomat, a new high-end restaurant venture from Steamboat Yacht Club owners Morton and Ellen Hoj, scheduled to open in June.
In December, commercial real estate broker Hal Unruh of Prudential Steamboat Realty said two other commercial spaces were under contract, with a possibly divisible 2,600-square-foot space fronting Lincoln Avenue still available. Unruh could not be reached for comment Thursday.
With most commercial space at Howelsen Place already leased, and with letters of intent claiming the rest, tenants seeking to get in at the large development at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue are out of luck. “For all practical purposes, all commercial space is spoken for,” Cook said.Commercial tenants will begin finishing work on their spaces in August — if they work fast enough, they could be open in time for ski season, Cook said.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. will be the commercial anchor at Howelsen Place, bringing ticket sales, branded apparel and boot fitting to downtown. Vectra Bank and Vario of Steamboat Springs also will move into Howelsen Place from their existing downtown locations.
When complete, Howelsen Place will boast 35 residences in two buildings.
Remaining residential property at Howelsen Place starts at $999,999, Cashen said. The seven affordable housing units all are under contract. However, the project’s condominiums are by no means picked over — three of the four top-floor residences at Howelsen’s Building A along Yampa Street, boasting some of the best views in the project, still are available.
“Our final sales are going to be some of our best homes,” Cashen said.
Sales also are under way at The Olympian, under construction at Fifth and Yampa streets with the direction of developer Paul Franklin. The project will house three commercial tenants in 5,700 square feet of retail space. No tenants have been announced. Six of the developments’ 23 residential units are under contract, according to The Olympian’s Web site. Sales agents for the project could not be reached for comment. Remaining units start at $636,000, for a two-bedroom home with just more than 1,000 square feet of living space, with the priciest three-bedroom homes nearing $2 million for 2,000 square feet.
Utility and infrastructure work are due to begin in the spring at River Walk, the largest of Colorado Group Realty’s downtown mixed-use projects. “What we’re really doing is creating a separate community over there,” Cook said. “That’s the project seemingly everyone wants to be in.” The current design of the project calls for 88 residences and 40,000 square feet of commercial space, including three or four restaurants. The plan is subject to change as Cook is in talks to bring in a hotel at the east end of the site along the Yampa River, which would reduce the number of condos at the project. The final design and composition of the River Walk project should be determined by February, he said. Sales and leasing are unlikely to begin until Alpenglow and Howelsen Place have been completed and fully sold, Cook said.