Sunday, March 30, 2008



EdgemontRidge's first phase has been released!
Interested parties are being invited to consider an exclusive priority reservation. A refundable $10,000 deposit will place you in line for one of the new Edgemont's condominiums, which are expected to range in price from $800,000 to $2.5 million. The reservations were opened this week and will close on April 8th for priority position. Reservations after that day will be date and time stamped.

The condominiums will range in size from one to four bedrooms; developers are refining the details. It is proposed that approximately 42 condominiums will be released in the first phase.

Prospective buyers who make the soft deposit would be invited to work with the sales team through mid-April, when reservation priorities would begin to be firmed up for a one-day sales event to be held in June or July.

The reservation process is time-tested and very similar to the process used for an unrelated nearby project, Trailhead Lodge at Wildhorse Meadows. Murrell’s employer, S&P Destination Prop­erties, also handled the marketing of that project.

The Atira Group, the development company, anticipates breaking ground on Edgemont Ridge in early summer, possibly as early as May, Murrell said.

Edgemont is situated on the Stampede ski trail just south of the Christie Peak Express chairlift and north of the gondola.

“The views of the South Valley, the ski village and the Sleeping Giant are absolutely stunning,” Murrell said.

Edgemont Ridge is farthest up the ski trails among the multiple buildings in the project. The second phase of the project would comprise another large condominium building, and the third phase would include paired residences just to the south of the ski trails.

Story full details in Steamboat Pilot & Today

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs with Buyer Representation, contact Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21 Ski Town Associates.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Steamboat's New Development - Porches (All Season)

By Tom Ross - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Porches of Steamboat neighborhood at the corner of Steamboat Boulevard and Rockies Way is maturing with the release this month of 17 townhomes in the All Seasons neighborhood. The townhomes in All Season are in the island at the right of the image.

Steamboat Springs — Developers of The Porches of Steamboat have released the latest phase of their project, meant to fill a niche in the luxury housing market near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

The All Seasons neighborhood comprises 17 townhomes on Rockies Way, just across the street from the first phase of The Porches. Prices for the 3,100-square-foot townhomes begin at $2.15 million, or about $700 a square foot.

Development partner Richard Dean said the intent is to offer the same high level of finishes, personal services and amenities The Porches represents, in a smaller home.

The majority of the duplex homes in the first phase of The Porches comprise more than 4,000 square feet. Some prospective buyers are saying they don’t need that big a home, Dean said.

Dean’s partner is Bruce Shugart, co-owner of the well-known Aspen luxury homebuilder, Structural Associates Company, based in Glenwood Springs.

During a presentation to the local real estate communitty last month, Dean said he thought The Porches has overcome initial skepticism that it was located just a little too far from the ski slopes to command the prices it has.

“We have almost 20 acres here, and now we are releasing our next phase,” Dean said. “All of a sudden, it feels like we’re an infill site.”

The intent behind The Porches, Dean said, is to offer many of the qualities of a single-family neighborhood with the convenience of on-site management through Pinnacle Management.

Early in March, a 5,000-square foot home in the first phase of The Porches was under contract. Five other whole-ownership homes were available at prices ranging from $2.62 million to $3.18 million.

The private residence club was offering one-eighth share ownership — six weeks of planned vacation annually. Prices range from $340,000 to $450,000. Annual dues are about $10,300.

About 15 residence club shares were available.


To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs with Buyer Representation, contact Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21 Ski Town Associates.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Edgemont (Formerly Bear Claw III) Slopeside - Steamboat Springs

To all of my blog followers and clients who have shown an interest in Edgemont (formerly Bear Claw III):

I am excited to announce that on March 25th, 2008 Edgemont began accepting Exclusive Priority Reservations for the first priority group, the Preferred Group, of reservation holders. All reservations received between today and Tuesday, April 8th will be included in the Preferred Group. All reservations received after April 8th will be included in the Time and Date Stamp Group. The Preferred Group priority selection order will be determined based on a 3rd party random draw.

If you want in on the newest Steamboat Slopside vacation home at Edgemont, call me today for more information and a reservation package:

I'm happy to help,

Steamboat 700 - Possible 200 Homes in 2010

Mulcahy shoots for 2010
Steamboat 700 developer seeks to limit real estate speculation
By Brandon Gee - Steamboat Pilot
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Colorado Group Realty on Tuesday hosted a talk with Steamboat 700 project manager Danny Mulcahy. Mulcahy briefly shared his philosophy on affordable housing in Steamboat.
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat 700 is no place for speculation, Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said Tuesday.

Mulcahy delivered this message at a talk hosted by Colorado Group Realty. His presentation drew about 50 people. Colorado Group Realty Chief Operating Officer Bart Kounovsky said the crowd that packed the meeting room at Tread of Pioneers Museum was about 50 percent real estate agents, and many of Mulcahy’s comments were directed at such an audience.

“People’s ability to speculate on this property will be limited,” Mulcahy said. “For the Realtors in here, that’s a shame, but it helps the attainability.”

Mulcahy outlined some mech­anisms he would use to limit speculation and keep his proposed community one for the working-class, full-time resident. The most important one, he said, will be to bring large amounts of real estate to the market at the same time. He predicted there could be 200 sales a year in Steamboat 700 in its first years on the market.

“The way speculation is limited is by the pure volume I have on the market,” Mulcahy said. “It’s going to be real hard for speculators to compete with me.”

Mulcahy offered some insight into how his product might be brought to the market and when. He said he won’t be the only developer and that there also would be lot sales for people to build their own homes. He predicted it would take about 20 years to build out the entire property.

“There will be several developers,” Mulcahy said. “There will be lots of lot sales.”

Mulcahy was asked when such sales might start, but he could not be specific.

“I can’t even have that conversation until I get annexed,” Mulcahy said. “With your guys’ help, I’ll be annexed this year. If I get annexed this year, my first sale is 2010. … I won’t take reservations at least until I get annexed.”

Mulcahy said a school, a community center and a quick-care clinic could be included in his project, but not a recreation center. He also spoke about what he hopes Steamboat 700 will look like from a design standpoint.

“I like the eclectic nature of downtown, and that’s what I want to create out here,” he said. “I like the pink house, next to the stone house, next to the wood house.”

Mulcahy admitted that his goal of getting annexed by the city of Steamboat Springs in the next nine months is an aggressive one, but he also noted that the city has identified his 700-acre property as a target for growth in area plans and should be able to move quickly. He also said the longer it takes the city to annex Steamboat 700, the higher prices will be on the approximately 2,000 homes he proposes. Nonetheless, Mulcahy said he would not abandon the project no matter how long it takes.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “It will happen.”


To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs with Buyer Representation, contact Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21 Ski Town Associates. I am happy to help...

Understanding mountain real estate during a national downturn

The rules of the game
Understanding mountain real estate during a national downturn
By Tom Ross - Steambaot Pilot and Today
Sunday, March 23, 2008

What about Steamboat’s increased inventory?
Realtor Doug Labor of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate said Steamboat Springs had 1,424 listings as of this week. His research reveals that since 1995, the local market has experienced eight first quarters with more listings and seven with fewer.

The Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance, which compares the real estate markets in mountain towns, reported Steamboat’s 2007 year-end inventory stood at 1,244 listings. Of those active listings, 557 were undeveloped land.

“Personally, I’m excited about the higher inventory,” Labor said. “It could slow down this double-digit appreciation we have seen.”

Thus far, the first quarter of 2008 has seen 200 sales made through the Multiple Listing Service. In the past 14 years, there have been three first quarters with more sales and 10 with fewer.

Steamboat Springs — A business professor at the University of Denver who happens to own resort property in Silverthorne said this week the real estate markets in Colorado’s mountain towns are relatively immune to the current national economic downturn.

“In our resort communities, you don’t have to count on the people who live there and their jobs,” Professor Glenn Mueller said. “You count on people who are wealthy enough to own second homes.”

He teaches courses in real estate feasibility and management and real estate capital markets at DU’s Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management.

Mueller was quick to acknowledge the secondary market comprising resident buyers but said, even in that sector, strong incomes for business owners and people in fields related to construction mean they have strong buying power.

Paul Clavadetscher, president of Millennium Bank in Steamboat Springs, disagreed with Mueller in one regard.

“I do think the national economy does have an impact on Steamboat,” Clavadetscher said. “With all of the negative news in the marketplace, the buyers are being more cautious.”

Still, he acknowledged that his bank is ahead of 2007 in terms of its mortgage lending business.

Realtors in Steamboat Springs acknowledge that a real estate slowdown began here last fall, and inventory — the number of properties on the market — has increased since then. But they aren’t so sure it isn’t a good thing.

“Things began slowing down in September 2007, but that’s off of 2006 and 2007,” Realtor Ulrich Salzgeber of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate told a small group of vacationers at a seminar Thursday night.

“We’ve seen a slowdown in purchases, and we have larger inventory, but we really haven’t seen a decline in prices,” Clavadetscher said. “I don’t see that we’re in a serious decline at all. I do think (prices) are settling in.”

Clavadetscher, who will observe his 15th year in banking here in June, said sellers’ expectations in Steamboat may be a little unrealistic given the rapid price escalation experienced last year.

While current bank appraisals do not indicate a downturn in prices, he said appraisals based on comparable sales recorded four to five months ago could be skewed.

The dollar volume of real estate sold in Routt County in 2006 topped $1 billion for the first time and then increased by 41 percent to $1.587 billion in 2007. At the same time, the number of transactions dropped from 3,477 in 2006 to 2,555 last year.

January 2008 dollar volume was off 2007 levels by 20 percent. But at that level, Routt County still projects to a $1 billion market in 2008, Clavadetscher said.

“That would be the third-highest year in the history of Steamboat Springs,” he said.

Doug Labor, Salzgeber’s colleague at Buyer’s Resource Real Estate, uses historical data to gauge where the market may go. He graphs supply (listings) and demand (transactions) for a decade then draws a straight line that chops off the highs and lows to produce a trend line. That approach takes out anomalies like the post Sept. 11, 2001, downturn and the surge attributable to the purchase of the ski area by Intrawest last year.

“Using this theory suggests that in 2008, the Steamboat Springs real estate market will see about 1,500 transactions. Total dollar volume will be $800 million with an average sales price of $533,000,” Labor said.

Realtors are watching closely to see if things pick up this spring. A steady stream of national news about the increasing number of home foreclosures tied to the sub-prime lending crisis and the waves being created throughout the economy add to the suspense.

Mueller said because buyers of expensive vacation homes in the mountains earn incomes that rank among the top 10 percent nationally, waning consumer confidence is not an issue.

“The top 10 percent typically have money to do a lot of different things,” Mueller said.

They are individuals (not households) who earn $80,000 or more annually, and news of waning consumer confidence don’t necessarily apply to them.

“For people buying a $1 million property in Steamboat, it really doesn’t matter.”

Clavadetscher said there is good news this month for homebuyers in Steamboat — as a result of a federal economic stimulus package, the threshold for a jumbo loan here has been raised from $417,000 to $625,000. The change means loans that comply with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae standards could be made at more favorable interest rates than before.

Labor believes the 1,425 listings currently found on the Multiple Listing Service — a number comparable to that of 2005 — represent a positive for buyers. It gives them more choices within different product categories and price points, he said.

End of Article.

MICHELLE DIEHL, GRI (BROKER ASSOICATE) With Century 21 - Ski Town Associates will be happy to help you find your Dream home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Visit for all your real estate needs...

Understanding Steamboat's market, mortgage rates, and the economy

Tom Ross: On the Market
By Tom Ross - Steamboat Pilot
Sunday, March 23, 2008

Note from Michelle Diehl - thank you Tom for all of your well written articles and this useful information on mortgage rates and bond market fluctuations!

I know the above headline sounds redundant. Just check out the number of 2007 year-end real estate listings in a variety of mountain towns as reported by the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance.

Neighboring Grand County had far and away the most listings at the end of 2007, with 4,176. Of those, 1,784 were single-family homes. The average sales price was $497,500, compared to Steamboat’s average sales price of $803,000.

Other year-end listings totals included: Aspen, 1,041; Whistler, B.C., 599; Park City, Utah, 2,902; Summit County, 3,240; Sun Valley, Idaho, 1,611; Telluride, 629; Teton County, Wyo., 409; and Vail, 1,782.

Understanding mortgage rates

The Federal Reserve slashed the Fed Funds rate by three-quarters of a point to 2.25 percent last week. But don’t expect mortgage rates to go down as a result.

“This action is likely to drive up mortgage interest rates,” said Gibran Nicholas, chairman of the CMPS Institute, an organization that certifies mortgage bankers and brokers.

When the Fed lowers interest rates, they encourage more borrowing and spending in the economy. This has the potential to artificially drive up asset prices and cause money to lose its purchasing power, Nicholas said. This phenomenon is known as inflation and scares bond market investors.

“Fixed mortgage rates are tied to the mortgage-backed bonds that trade on the bond market,” Nicholas said. “Inflation erodes the value of bonds by reducing the purchasing power of the income stream associated with the bonds. This causes bond investors to sell out, which drives up bond yields and mortgage interest rates.”

The good news, however, is that the bond market has already priced in an inflation premium as mortgage rates have ticked higher in recent weeks. “Mortgage rates started their upward climb in January after reaching a two-year low point, and they are unlikely to go much higher from their current levels,” Nicholas said. “Of course, if inflation fears persist, the markets will react accordingly.”

The Porches - Steamboat Economy - Vail Housing

Modified story from the Steamboat Pilot/ Today:
The Porches / Vail

The developers of The Porches recently have turned to a subsidiary of Intrawest to prepare a new marketing plan and assemble a sales team.

Porches co-developer Richard Dean said: “Now we’re getting ready to release our next phase.”

Phase II of The Porches is under construction on Rockies Way, with 18 units averaging about 3,000 square feet, primarily in duplex buildings. Pricing is not yet available.

Dean said the intent is to create a product that is compatible with the larger homes in the first phase of The Porches. Those homes range from just fewer than 4,000 square feet to just more than 5,000 square feet. Among a half dozen new units currently on the market, prices vary between $2.6 and $3.18 million. One of those homes is listed as being under a pending contract.

Dean said another price point has been created by offering 15 one-eighth-share intervals on Phase I homes at prices ranging from $340,000 to $450,000.

Jeff Meier, senior director of sales and marketing for Playground Destination Properties, said this week that if real estate activity in Vail is any indication, this summer will see positive real estate sales in Steamboat Springs in spite of the national slowdown in housing.

Vail hit $1,000-a-square-foot five years ago, and new properties there now sell for $2,000 a square foot. In Vail, 80 percent of buyers are cash buyers, Meier said.

“Buyers in Vail aren’t taking equity out of their homes to buy condominiums,” Meier said. “It’s the same dynamic. If Steamboat’s anything like Vail, it really is not going to slow down.”

Playground, an Intrawest company, shares its ownership with the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Playground is not linked to Vail Resorts, but manages sales for the Four Seasons Resort Vail, which broke ground in April 2007.

Meier said the effect the Front Range market is having on Colorado mountain towns seems to vary with the distance from Denver. Copper Mountain, owned by Intrawest, is seeing relatively little impact. In contrast, in Winter Park and Grand County, where almost half of the buyers come from the Front Range, “they’re feeling a little bit of it,” Meier said.

Vail is boosted by international buyers who account for 18 percent of its purchasers, Meier said.

Interval sales tend to take off in mountain towns when whole-ownership residential units are no longer available for $500,000, Meier added.

Data tracked by the Rocky Mountain Resort Alliance shows that at the end of 2007 in Vail, the average price of a home was $1.47 million and the average price of a condominium was $929,184. In Steamboat, by contrast, the average price of a single-family home at the end of last year was $803,133, and the average price of a condominium was $407,000.

Wildhorse Marketplace Restaurants

Plans for restaurants emerging
Spaces remain at 3-year-old Wildhorse Marketplace commercial center
By Tom Ross - Steambot Pilot
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Traditional Indian cuisine and “Get and Go” comfort food are coming to Wildhorse Marketplace as Resort Ventures West begins to deliver on its goal of pumping up the dining scene in the commercial center on Mount Werner Road.

Harjinder Gill, who says he has opened more than 30 Indian-themed restaurants, many of them on Colorado’s Front Range, confirmed he has an agreement to lease a 2,700-square-foot space just west of the Ben & Jerry’s store and hopes to open Bombay Grill as soon as June.

Longtime Steamboat Springs chef Ben Stroock also confirmed plans for his new food establishment, The Drunken Onion Get and Go Kitchen, in a smaller spot between Tall Tulips floral shop and Quiznos. He is the former operator of The Main Dish in downtown Steamboat and most recently oversaw deli food at Market on the Mountain.

Both businesses will open this year in previously unoccupied spaces in Wildhorse Marketplace.

“We’re very excited about both new tenants,” said Kerry Shea, director of sales for Resort Ventures West. “We took a step back and did a full analysis of the marketplace. We’ve reaffirmed our intent to build Wildhorse as an entertainment restaurant destination.”

He pointed out that Wildhorse Stadium Cinema and the opening this spring of the nearby Strings in the Mountains pavilion enhance the commercial center in that regard.

The existing Porches residential development with the coming expansion of the Village at Steamboat by 175 units and the luxury condominiums and homes within walking distance at Wildhorse Meadows all bode well for the center, he said.

He remains intent on finding two more restaurant operators for two larger spaces that remain empty in Wildhorse Marketplace and says two or three parties are in discussions about both spaces.

Wildhorse Marketplace was approved by the city of Steamboat Springs in summer 2003 and opened the Sports Authority (then Gart Sports) sporting goods store in December 2004. The theater opened in July 2006. Despite the traffic created by those anchor tenants, the center has never been full.

Outside the entertainment realm, Millennium Bank Presi­dent Paul Clavadetscher confirmed his business has a contract on an approved development pad just west of the theater, where Millennium intends to build a freestanding bank. Millennium opened in a large storefront in Wildhorse Marketplace in July 2006.

“We were profitable in our seventh month, and we are over $42 million in assets,” Clavadetscher said. “In historical terms, we are three or four years ahead of where a normal bank should be, so we’re moving things up a couple of years.”

The new bank building would allow Millennium to offer its customers things it cannot now — drive-through banking and safe deposit boxes, for example.

Clavadetscher said Wild­horse Marketplace has proven to be a strong location for his bank.

“We’re at the entrance to a major ski area,” he said.

Shea said Stroock’s proposal to establish a food service business where people can pick up prepared meals and take them home stood out among other proposals for the 1,399-square-foot space.

Stroock said the Drunken Onion (named after his favorite pizza at the Main Dish), will offer limited seating and a small lunch menu (hearty soups and prepared sandwiches). The emphasis will be on dinners — items that can be pulled out of a refrigerator case, nightly specials and customer “catered to go” entrées for families.

Gill opened the Bombay Bistro in Boulder, which is now operated by a nephew. Bombay Grill will feature traditional Northern Indian cuisine including a variety of curries and vegetarian dishes.

There will be a luncheon buffet as well as dinner entrées. The restaurant will offer a bar and outdoor seating.

Shea said Resort Ventures West is intent on its plans for the existing space but that when it comes time to develop the already approved second phase to the east of the completed buildings, the focus is likely to return to developing more retail.

That expansion would entail 22,000 square feet in two buildings.

To learn more about Wildhorse or other real estate in Steamboat Springs, contact Michelle Diehl, Broker Assocaite with Century 21 - Ski Town Associates at (970)846-1086 or

Friday, March 14, 2008

Town is Packed with Guests

Weekend lodging occupancy near max
By Tom Ross - Steambot Pilot & Today
Friday, March 14, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The winter tourism season is nearing the peak of spring break, with 14,400 visitors expected to spend Saturday night in Steamboat Springs lodging properties. There are signs the peak will last for at least another week.

“We’re pretty much rock ’em, soc ’em from Saturday right through Easter Sunday,” said Mike Lomas, vice president and general manager of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel. “We’re north of 90 percent (occupancy) through the week. We’ve seen that coming for a long time.”

Yampa Valley Regional Airport was modestly busy Thursday, with 1,115 arriving passengers. In aggregate, arriving flights were 83 percent full. The NASTAR National Ski Championships at the Steamboat Ski Area today through Sunday are expected to bring at least 1,100 competitive skiers to town, not to mention their families and friends.

The lodging barometer published by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association anticipates that visitation will remain strong into the middle of the coming week, with just as many spring skiers here Wednesday. That would make March 19 the busiest Wednesday of the ski season thus far.

Steamboat’s lodging properties will be 96 percent full Saturday night and 96 percent full Wednesday night. Mountain hotels such as the Steamboat Grand are expected to be 97 percent full Saturday night. That compares favorably to the corresponding Saturday in 2007, when they were 85 percent full. Steamboat saw 11,500 guests on St. Patrick’s Day 2007, yielding an overall occupancy rate of 77 percent.

Business at the Grand during the coming week will be a mix of independent travelers and people who own intervals in the hotel’s condominium-style units.

Easter comes unusually early this year — March 23 — and Lomas said business would taper off a little after Easter Sunday, but not by much.

The early forecast for March 22 anticipates an occupancy of 82 percent, yielding 12,300 lodgers. There were 13,100 visitors on the corresponding Saturday last year.

However, Lomas said group business would keep Steamboat busy beyond March.

“We have solid group bookings at the end of March and for the first four or five days of April,” Lomas said.

City Evaluates Iron Horse Proposals

By Brandon Gee - Steamboat Pilot
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Steamboat Springs — Two local property management firms have responded to a city of Steamboat Springs request for proposals to manage the Iron Horse Inn. Central Park Management and Resort Group submitted proposals that, after a preliminary fiscal analysis, may save the city money.

The Iron Horse Inn was purchased last year in a deal approv­ed by the previous Steamboat Springs City Council. After honoring existing reservations this ski season, the city initially planned to spend $1 million — of the $5.3 million borrowed for the purchase — to renovate the hotel’s 52 rooms into 40 traditional apartments that it would rent as affordable housing.

The current City Council, however, would rather minimize the Iron Horse’s cost to the city by not renovating the property and keeping nightly rentals in play. The city is providing long-term rentals in 29 rooms for city workers and those of other Steamboat employers.

In addition to keeping nightly rentals in play, the City Council instructed city staff to solicit private-sector partnerships and ideas for the management of the inn. Central Park Management and Resort Group submitted plans for continuing to run the inn as both a work force housing and lodging operation. Resort Group also submitted a second option to use the Iron Horse for work force housing only.

A city staff report estimates that the inn, if run by the city, would have an annual loss of $7,834. It is estimated the Central Park plan would result in an annual profit of $8,197 for the city. Resort Group’s work-force-only option is estimated to make an annual profit of $6,577, its work force and hotel option would lose $4,423.

“The reason I was excited about it was that they came in pretty close to what the city can do,” Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said last week.

With further negotiation, Hermacinski said the private sector’s offers might get even better. One reason Hermacinski is in favor of a private company taking over the management of the Iron Horse is because she thinks the inn is taking up a lot of time for city employees.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said her office often takes calls from residents about such things as roof leaks and noise complaints. She said trusting the inn’s management to a private company would eliminate much of the city’s overhead.

“Every month we manage it, quite frankly, we have more confidence we can manage it,” DuBord said last week. “But it’s not our core business, so if the private sector can do it better and cheaper, we want them to do that.”

Curt Weiss of Central Park Management said his company has the experience to efficiently and effectively run the property.

“We’ve been in the long-term rental business for almost 30 years now,” Weiss said.

Weiss thinks the private-management option would allow the city to get out of the lodging business and make some money while still satisfying an essential need for work force housing.

DuBord said the city will enter into a detailed analysis of the proposals, which she said have pros and cons. The city will request a best and final offer from both property managers and return to City Council within a month with a recommendation.

“We want to make sure that the quality of management is at least as good as what we’re providing,” DuBord said. “We also want to make sure that the city gets a certain amount of those units for city employees at a preferred or at least current rates.”

Management plans
• City staff

Revenue: $841,000

Expenses: $848,834

City’s net: $-7,834

• Central Park

Revenue: $858,000

Expenses: $849,803

City’s net: $8,197

•Resort Group (work force)

Revenue: $638,000

Expenses: $631,423

City’s net: $6,577

• Resort Group (work force/nightly)

Revenue: $850,000

Expenses: $854,423

City’s net: $-4,423

Post Office Could be Moving

Change of address
Post office considers new, consolidated facility
By Brandon Gee - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The U.S. Postal Service could be shipping its Steamboat Springs’ offices to a new location in as little as 20 weeks.

“We’re in the process of looking for opportunities within the community,” Leigh Hettick told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Monday. “We’d definitely like to do something better for the community than currently exists.”

Hettick, district facility activation coordinator for Colorado and Wyoming, said the Postal Service hopes to stay within the city limits near Lincoln Avenue and also would prefer to consolidate its downtown and Sundance Plaza offices into one operation. Hettick said the city approached the Postal Service in June 2006 with its desire to purchase the main Post Office at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

“We’ve had informal conversations since that time,” Hettick said. “The time may now be opportune for us to do something different.”

Before Monday night’s special meeting of the City Council, City Manager Alan Lanning said the city isn’t necessarily interested in purchasing the downtown building.

“What we are interested in doing is helping with a process that moves the post office to a new location,” said Lanning, who noted concerns with traffic and congestion at the busy intersection. “At this point in time, that’s just a tough place for it to be.”

Hettick said it would be difficult for the Postal Service to stay put by remodeling, taking over the space it currently rents to Coldwell Banker Silver Oak, or both, partially because the building originally was designed as a bank.

“The location we would like would be designed from scratch as a post office,” Hettick said. “It’s a very difficult building to modify into something that works efficiently.”

Demolishing the building and constructing a new one also poses challenges such as how to continue service in the interim. And neither option solves the traffic and congestion concerns at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Hettick said the Postal Service prefers to operate in property that it can own itself, but he said he would entertain rental options “if someone can make the numbers work.” Brian Olson is one developer who would love to strike a deal with the Postal Service. Olson said the Post Office would be a good fit for his Steamboat Crossings development at the northwest corner of South Lincoln Avenue and Pine Grove Road.

“We have had several conversations with them about moving in to our property,” Olson said Monday. “They’re attractive in that we’re trying to create a town center. It’s a community gathering place, and we would look forward to having a user like that on our site.”

Olson said the traffic the Post Office would generate also would be beneficial to all other potential tenants in his development.

Some at Monday’s meeting expressed concern that the Post Office would relocate away from downtown. Hettick said no downtown sites have been identified “in a formal way.”

“People who have sites are going to be encouraged to bring them forward as a result of this process,” Hettick said.

The next step in the process is for the Postal Service to take at least 15 days to gather and evaluate community comments. For more information, contact Hettick at (303) 227-5318 or

Community Center Opening Soon

Community Center to open soon
By Brandon Gee - Steambaot Pilot & Today
Monday, March 10, 2008

Steamboat Springs — If anyone is excited about the completion of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center, it’s Shelley Orrell.

“I’m excited about having an office because right now I’m in a storage closet at the end of the kitchen,” said Orrell, program director for the Routt County Council on Aging. “We’re excited. It’s a lovely building and a great asset for the whole community.”

The Routt County Council on Aging will be the primary user of the $3.6 million facility, which is replacing the former community center that was demolished to make way for an expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Bob Robichaud, facilities manager for the city of Steamboat Springs, said the Council on Aging is scheduled to begin moving into its new home this week. But that plan is dependent on the weather, Robichaud said, because the people who do the moving also do snow removal, a more pressing need.

It wouldn’t be the first time that work related to the Community Center has been held up because of snow. In December, project manager Rick Gliniecki of Fox Construction predicted the building would be delivered in February. Since that time, an abundant amount of snowfall has Steamboat closing in on a record winter.

“It certainly has added challenges,” Robichaud said Friday. “You have to tent areas of the building and provide heat so you can work. You have to get the snow out of the way before you can find a place to stand.”

In any event, Robichaud said he anticipates “being operational by the end of the week of (March) 17.”

For the past eight months, the Routt County Council on Aging has occupied space at Celebrity Resorts on Highpoint Drive. The temporary home allowed the council to continue programs such as the meals it offers senior citizens four times a week.

“It worked awful well for us because it’s a commercial kitchen and it allowed us to keep going,” Orrell said. “Access hasn’t been the best, but the city has made it work for us.”

Other activities, such as movie night and exercise classes, had to be scrapped. In addition to renewing activities that had to be cut, Orrell said the council hopes to expand its programming in the new Community Center with events such as a lecture series.

Leo Hill Post No. 44 of the American Legion will be another major user of the Community Center. Last week, the Steamboat Springs City Council approved a 30-year lease for the post’s space in the Community Center. Like the Routt County Council on Aging, the American Legion post was a tenant in the old community center. The post contributed $50,000 to the construction of the old community center in 1980. They will contribute $15,000 for a wooden dance floor in the new Community Center.

The center will be open to the broader community as well and may host weddings and other functions. Rental fees have not yet been established, but Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Friday that fees would be slightly higher than those at the old community center. The building’s main community room can hold 382 people.

The Steamboat Springs Com­munity Center aims to be the first building in Northwest Colorado to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. 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. LEED buildings are awarded ratings from “certification,” to silver, gold and platinum levels.

“We’re comfortable that the building will be certified,” Robichaud said. He said it would be another 30 days before the city will know what level of certification the building achieves.

Some of the Community Center’s green features include a heavy reliance on recycled materials, lighting provided by solar tubes and the use of wood purchased from suppliers approved by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The Community Center still is subject to inspections and permitting. The city is seeking proposals for landscaping work to be done after the snow melts. A grand opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for May.

January Sales Volume Falls

Sunray Meadows winds up sales of 136 entry-level condos
By Tom Ross - Steambaot Pilot & Today
Sunday, March 9, 2008

Source: Land Title Guarantee Co
Steamboat Springs — The sale of four homes that cost more than $3 million a piece dominated the January real estate headlines. However, it also was a month when the last developer sales of an entry-level condominium project at the mountain were being placed under contract.

Realtor Ken Gold of RE/MAX Steamboat confirmed that essentially the last of 136 units at Sunray Meadows on Village Drive closed at the end of February.

Buyers who put their units under contract early in the release period still were able to acquire two-bedroom units for less than $328,000. However, as evidenced by some double closings, the price for the same units has now crested $400,000.

Gold said although other condominium projects meant for permanent Steamboat residents will follow, it will be difficult to offer them at similar price points because development ground is more expensive and city affordable housing prices dictate that market units must subsidize part of the affordable project.

“We’ve been selling Sunray for five years,” Gold said. “If we did it now, there might be 15 to 20 (deed-restricted affordable) units we’d have to take a loss on.”

At the other end of the January spectrum, four homes priced above $3 million accounted for $18.7 million of the month’s total dollar volume of $80.77 million, said Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Co.

Dollar volume was down about 20 percent from the record $100.4 million recorded in January 2006. Carta noted that January 2008 still was substantially more than the total January 2005 dollar volume of $47.7 million.

“The total number of units sold during January 2008 was 136 compared to 180 for January 2007,” Carta said. “The biggest crease in (unit) sales was in the Steamboat mountain area with 70 sales last January 2007 compared to 48 this January. Yet, in that same area, the average transaction price went from $692,899 last January to $976,581 for this January.”

Boosting the averages were the $4.7 million sale of an 8,000-square-foot home on 35 acres in Strawberry Park. Two sides of a duplex on Ski Trail Lane, very close to the lower ski slopes, sold for $5.4 million and $5.3 million, respectively.

The aggregate value of the 15 homes valued at $1 million or more in January was $35.6 million, compared to the total of $56 million for all 67 homes that sold in Routt County during the month.

Will there ever be another Sunray Meadows?

Developer Brian Olson is bringing a project called Trailside Village through the city planning process. It would create 200 market-rate condominiums and another 30 deed-restricted affordable units. Olson is optimistic he can bring them to market at prices between $300,000 and $600,000.

Gold and partners in a proposed development at Casey’s Pond are contemplating including a number of community housing units in the mix with resort units near U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road.

Gold anticipates some of the buyers would be fellow baby boomers who have graduated to empty-nester status and are seeking to downsize their real estate in Steamboat to allow them to afford a second home in a warmer climate.

New Project - St. Cloud Resort & Spa (Entrance to Ski Time Square)

Builders want to acquire garage
St. Cloud plans to change intersection
By Tom Ross - Steambaot Pilot & Today
Sunday, March 9, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The founding partner and former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is partnering with Steamboat Springs developer Jamie Temple to propose a 781,339-square-foot development that would redefine the entrance to Ski Time Square.

The project is called St. Cloud Resort & Spa. It would add 201 residential units in multiple buildings. The formal name of the development company is Momentum Steamboat LLC, Temple said.

He was the developer of Storm Mountain Ranch in Steamboat with his brother Jeff as well as Water Dance in Frisco and Uptown Broadway in Boulder.

Partner Colgate Holmes’ background includes operation and development of resorts and hotels including the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Wigwam Resort and Country Club in Phoenix, and the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A statement prepared by the St. Cloud developers says they intend to enhance the Steamboat hotel experience with services including day care, a full service spa, restaurants, ballroom and conference facilities, a ski shop and related commercial space.

The Steamboat Ski Area has written a letter of permission giving the developers the ability to enter the city of Steamboat Springs planning process with a plan that would replace the existing Ski Corp. parking garage with new buildings and underground parking.

“We’re aware that they have contemplated that parking structure in the pre-application and have acknowledged that we have no objection,” Ski Corp. Vice President of Development Doug Beall said. “We haven’t consummated a deal.”

They also have stated their intention to develop a green project and pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accreditation, something that has not been pursued with so large a project in Steamboat.

Temple said the goal of Momentum Steamboat is to own the parking garage site.

The nearly 4-acre site of the St. Cloud would occupy parcels including the existing Clocktower Square Penthouse Condominiums, Xanadu Condo­miniums, the site of the old octagon buildings as well as the industrial-looking concrete parking garage.

St. Cloud has been through the city’s technical analysis process, and the developers are scheduled to deliver a re-worked plan next week in time for a public hearing before Planning Commission on March 27.

The public and private sector are in the midst of investing in the redevelopment of Ski Time Square and the proposed development of the St. Cloud represents a significant opportunity to make the entrance of the longstanding commercial strip at the base of the ski area more prominent and inviting.

“Certainly (planning) staff feels that the intersection of Mount Werner Circle and Ski Time Square Drive calls for a special level of treatment,” senior city planner Jonathan Spence said.

The developers say in their prepared statement that they intend to redefine the intersection as a “portal that provides a grand entry to the new base village experience at Steamboat.”

Spence said tentative plans for the St. Cloud call for 91 units to be devoted to a “condo-tel,” another 50 units would be marketed on a fractional basis, and 60 would be marketed as whole ownership units where owners would be encouraged to rent them out on a short-term basis.

Of the gross square footage in the project, 377,820 would be devoted to residential space and 48,649 to commercial uses.

Momentum Steamboat’s submittal to city planning is in the form of a pre-application. Public hearings are scheduled before Planning Commission on March 27 and City Council on April 15. No formal votes will be taken during those hearings.

Understanding Steamboat's Housing Needs

The push for a better understanding of housing needs
By Brandon Gee (Contact) - Steambaot Pilot & Today
Sunday, March 9, 2008

Average occupational wages (hourly)
Routt County median income (1 person)
2006 $50,900

2007 51,500

2008 53,000
Median income for Colorado counties (1 person)
Boulder: $60,900

Denver: 50,300

Eagle: 58,700

Hinsdale: 39,600

Kiowa: 37,700

Moffat: 38,700

Pitkin: 68,300

Routt: 53,000

Steamboat Springs — Numbers often dominate discussions about affordable housing in Steamboat Springs.

Developers often are told to target their community housing requirements at people who make a certain percentage of the area median income — equating professions and lives with statistics. But a growing number of people are beginning to ask whether there is enough understanding of what the numbers actually mean and whom affordable housing policies will really serve.

Without that understanding, some believe, the city’s policies may not be properly aimed at those members of the community it intends to protect.

Danny Mulcahy’s opinion on the subject is clear: “No more decisions without information.” Mulcahy, principal and project manager for the planned Steamboat 700 development,

feels strongly enough about the need for information that he has pledged $50,000 — of the $150,000 needed — for an in-depth microanalysis of housing needs in Steamboat.

“We’ve been making decisions without any data for a long time,” Mulcahy said. “We just want real information.”

The city plans to contribute another $50,000 for the study. The remainder would be provided by other developers and through the fundraising efforts of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

“I don’t think we have a total understanding,” said Donna Howell, executive director of the Housing Authority. “If we don’t have accurate information that is very specific to Steamboat, I think we’re doing a disservice to the community.”

While some information already exists — such as the AMI figures published annually by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and local assessments of housing needs — officials say nothing provides the type of specific, in-depth look at Steamboat’s housing needs that the proposed analysis would.

“The housing needs assessment that has been completed is more of a macro study,” Howell said. The new, proposed study “will give us an opportunity to get more specific data that will help in terms of what the product is. It gives us more information on a location-specific basis.”

Nancy Engelken, the city’s community housing coordinator, said that in addition to income information, there needs to be a better understanding of what people can afford, what they need and what they desire.

“We don’t know what that breakdown is in terms of what do households look like here,” Engelken said.

AMI is calculated according to household size. Although a family often is implied when defining a household, the definition of a household simply is any collection of individuals living together. As a result, a household of three could mean anything from a single mother with two children to three adults with full-time jobs.

These arrangements could have greatly divergent housing desires. Engelken said the market analysis would help people meet those desires.

“It will give a lot of direction to the city as well as the development community,” she said.

Whom to help

Mulcahy’s community housing plan for Steamboat 700, the planned development west of Steamboat that proposes about 2,000 new homes, has put him at odds with city staff.

The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which provides community development guidelines for land including the Steamboat 700 parcel, requires developers to provide 20 percent of their homes as affordable housing to people who make an average of 80 percent of AMI. Mulcahy proposes to target an average of 120 percent of AMI.

Mulcahy said his target is based on conversations he has had with members of the community that suggest the workforce Steamboat officials are interested in retaining earns more than 80 percent of AMI. He also says his plan will provide a larger percentage of ownership units rather than rental ones.

Mulcahy said he “strongly believes” in a range of housing options. The city has been unwilling to waver from its adopted requirements, but that could change depending on the results of the demand analysis.

“If the study shows that the city isn’t addressing it appropriately, the city should change its stance,” Mulcahy said.

Howell agreed.

“I think the most critical part of it is that we use the information that we gather,” she said.

Noreen Moore, business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, said she is excited to see the study’s results.

“I think we have a lot of emotion and a lot of anecdotal information right now,” Moore said. “Basing public policy on that is dangerous. Good, hard data will really help us focus.”

Moore has advocated an approach to affordable housing that focuses more on young professionals who probably make more than 120 percent of AMI but still struggle to make ends meet in Steamboat. Moore said she isn’t suggesting the lowest wage earners be ignored, but she argues that companies very important to Steamboat’s economy are threatened by struggles to recruit and retain employees in the face of a rapidly escalating cost of living.

“It should give the community a better way to deal with the problem,” Mulcahy said of the study. “Hopefully it gets to a point where everybody is hitting different segments of the market at the same time.”

Holy Name Caught in Historic Preservation Issue

Holy Name caught in historic preservation issue
Church wants to move Old Town homes as part of major expansion project
By Mike Lawrence - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Call it a separation of church and state.

As the parish of Holy Name Catholic Church prepares for a multimillion-dollar renovation that would dramatically expand the church on the 500 block of Oak Street, its pastor is seeking to move three adjacent houses on church property by giving the structures away to anyone able to move them.

But city officials and local historic preservationists say at least one of the structures, the historic longtime home of the late Dr. Frederick E. Willett, is a landmark that should not be moved.

The situation arises as the Steamboat Springs City Council is working with a citizens committee to revise the city’s historic preservation policies, which have been spotlighted in the face of widespread local development.

The church is not immune to change.

“The only way we have to grow is out,” the Rev. Ernest Bayer said Tuesday outside the church, spreading his arms to show the scope of the planned expansion.

Although the expansion would physically impact only one structure — the middle one, a small building at 214 Sixth St. — the other two structures, at 220 Sixth St. and 544 Oak St., would abut the expanded church.

“We really can’t build the expansion without moving these three buildings,” said John Fielding, a member of Holy Name’s building development committee.

Fielding also is a former historic restoration contractor and a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, a body separate from the citizens policy review committee. He recognizes the structures’ vintage architecture and history.

“We’re offering these houses to someone who will make use of them — we don’t want to see this resource wasted,” Fielding said. “We’re willing to entertain all offers.”

Zoning laws

The house at 544 Oak St. is used by the Pregnancy Resource Center and is known as the Good Shepherd House. Todd Hagenbuch of Historic Routt County confirmed that it once was the home of Dr. Willett, who moved to Steamboat Springs in 1912 and opened Steamboat’s first hospital in 1914, in what is now Old Town Pub & Restaurant on Lincoln Avenue. Willett practiced medicine in Routt County for 56 years, according to Tread of Pioneers Museum Executive Director Candice Lombardo.

Tom Leeson, the city’s director of planning and community development, said his department plans to talk with Holy Name leaders about incorporating the house into the church expansion.

“It’s a historically significant structure, and we feel quite strongly that it should stay in its current location,” Leeson said. “Once it’s moved, it loses all of its historic significance — it wouldn’t be eligible for any kind of listing on any register.”

Leeson said that statutorily, Holy Name is not able to immediately move any of the structures because the church is in a “commercial neighborhood” city zone on Oak Street.

“We consider the removal of a structure a demolition,” Leeson said. “They can’t move it until they have their new project approved.”

Leeson said Holy Name must have a demolition permit and an approved final development plan before moving the structures.

Fielding acknowledged the historic commission almost certainly would oppose a move. But he said if new sites were found for the houses, moving them would be logistically and economically feasible.

Bayer said the growing Holy Name community has a long history of its own.

“It’s a 101-year-old family that’s living here,” he said of the church.

Lawsuit Filed Against 700

Rifle Club uses adverse possession in fence-line dispute
By Tom Ross Steambaot Pilot & Today
Thursday, March 13, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Rifle Club has filed suit in Routt County District Court to assert its ownership of nearly five acres of disputed land along its boundary with the proposed Steamboat 700 development.

Both parties claim to own the land, located inside the Rifle Club’s fence line along its eastern and northern boundaries with Steamboat 700. The dispute may come down to Colorado’s adverse possession statute, which provides that when one party occupies and puts to use a portion of another party’s land throughout many years, with the second party “acknowledging and acquiescing” to the situation, the first party may claim ownership of the land.

The fence hasn’t stood for the past year, and both parties agree Steve Brown, who sold more than 500 acres to Steamboat 700 in March 2007, took it down about two weeks before the sale was consummated.

“Steve Brown asserted his claim (to the land),” Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said. “He’s the one who took the fence down. I really have nothing to do with it.”

“We put fence posts back up and put up signs letting people know it was our safety zone,” longtime Rifle Club member Kent Holt said.

The Rifle Club has operated a firing range for about 60 years on a bowl-shaped parcel off U.S. Highway 40 west of Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat 700 plans to build more than 2,000 homes on 700 acres it acquired in 2007, including the 540-acre Brown parcel, for which it paid $24.6 million.

Based on that price, the disputed land could be worth a comparable $45,000 per acre.

Mike Holloran, attorney for the Rifle Club, said the discrepancy resulting in the dispute is about 56 feet at either end of the fence line’s eastern run. Along the northern boundary the discrepancy ranges from about 65 feet on one end to 119 feet on the other end.

Holloran said adverse possession cases are relatively commonplace in Routt County and frequently arise from a casual approach taken to establishing fence lines in other eras.

The application of the law, he said, could be described as a reverse statute of limitations. If the original property owner doesn’t take action within 18 years to re-establish ownership, time runs out.

In his suit, technically a quiet title complaint, Holloran wrote:

“Plaintiff (the Rifle Club) is in possession of the property. The property was bordered by a fence ... which has been in existence for at least 60 years. Such fence was removed, without the authorization, consent or approval of plaintiff in the spring of 2007.”

In a response filed with the court, attorney Bob Weiss, representing Steamboat 700, asserts that his clients are the owners of the disputed property and asks the court to issue a decree, “holding that the plaintiffs ... have no interest or claim of any kind whatsoever in the property and forever barring and enjoining plaintiff ... from asserting any claims or title to the property.”

Safety concerns

Rifle Club members acknowledged to the Steamboat Pilot & Today in January that for safety reasons, and with the prospect of nearby residential development on Steamboat 700, the time to find a new home for the Rifle Club has arrived. The shooting range is widely used by sports shooters, hunters sighting in their rifles and a variety of law enforcement agencies. The nearest existing alternatives are in Hayden and Yampa.

Both Holt and Mulcahy said they did not desire a lawsuit.

“We didn’t want to get into this, but we don’t want to lose that land and, all of a sudden, safety becomes the issue,” Holt said. “This isn’t a world-shaking matter, but we’re pretty much forced into doing it.”

Mulcahy said he thought amicable conversations about the fence line issue were under way but then was served with the lawsuit.

“It’s only about six acres and most of it is designated as open space in our plan. It’s not a huge issue. But they served notice without any contact,” Mulcahy said. “Obviously, I had to serve them back.”

City Seeks 700 Team

City seeks 700 team
Council wants help with annexation
By Blythe Terrell - Steambaot Pilot & Today
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council members admit they aren’t expert negotiators.

So when it comes to working out an agreement for a massive development west of Steamboat Springs, they’re going to call in reinforcements. The council agreed Tuesday night to put together a negotiating team to work with the developers of Steamboat 700.

Council members hoped the group would include lawyer Jerry Dahl, who was part of a panel that spoke to the council about the proposed annexation Monday night. Dahl’s firm specializes in annexation law, City Council President Loui Antonucci said.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Antonucci said. Annexation has “been done all over the state and the country; we just need to tailor it to Steamboat.”

Council members said the negotiating team also could include the city manager, city attorney, and heads of the city’s finance, planning, public works and transportation departments. The council intends to ask Dahl whether he is available and, if he is, have him provide a list of people who also should be part of the team.

Council members overwhelmingly supported the plan.

“I came away last night with a new appreciation for the expertise that’s needed when it comes to a large endeavor like this,” Council Member Steve Ivancie said of Monday’s annexation review. “We need to put the best team together to look after this for our constituency.”

The council also addressed one very basic question: Do members want to proceed with the annexation? The answer was a unanimous “yes.”

Having an outside team participate also could help remove politics from the annexation process, Council Member Meg Bentley said, adding that the team would provide help “completely out of the political realm and into the realm of experts.”

Planning Services Manager John Eastman asked how the negotiating team would be paid.

“Lawyers are not inexpensive,” he said.

The council did not nail down a plan for funding.

Antonucci suggested the developer should cover costs associated with the planning and approval process. He added, however, that if that were the case, the developer probably would not pay the negotiators directly because that could be a conflict of interest. City Attorney Tony Lettunich suggested the developer could pay into a fund, which the city could draw from to cover costs associated with the annexation deal ­ including, perhaps, the negotiation team.

Land use attorney Bob Weiss, representing Steamboat 700, expressed concern about such an expense as well as the cost of studies proposed for the development. He said developers planned to focus on four categories for those studies: the fiscal impact of Steamboat 700, housing, water needs and transportation.

“This is a package; this has to be a financially viable program,” Weiss said. He also said the developers wanted to stay on schedule and get the studies under way as soon as possible for the development, which could add about 2,000 homes just west of Steamboat Springs.

The council did not set forth a timeline for the pre-annexation agreement required under the Community Development Code.

Before the council meeting, the Steamboat Springs Redevel­opment Authority extended for three years the contract of Redevelopment Coordinator Joe Kracum of Kracum Resources LLC, who is coordinating public redevelopments at the ski base.

The authority also discussed funding for operations and maintenance of road renovations and a planned promenade at the ski base, as well as contingency plans in case the city is unable to expedite a bond issue to cover design costs.

Mount Werner Circle & Apres Ski - Future Traffic Roundabout

Sidewalk friction melts away
Base area redevelopers and owners come to an agreement
By Tom Ross - Steamboat Pilot & TODAY
Saturday, February 23, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The impasse among Steam­boat Springs’ redevelopment advisory committee and a group of condominium owners at the base of Steamboat Ski Area showed signs of a coming thaw Friday afternoon.

The two groups have disagreed about who should pay for maintenance of a new sidewalk that is fundamental to redesigning a complex traffic intersection at the hub of the ski base.

“You have to understand, we were blindsided by this,” Ray Humphrey said on behalf of the owners at Snowflower condominiums. “We’ve really only known about this for two weeks. We’re excited about the (base area) plan. It’s a neat plan.”

Still, his group expressed unwillingness Friday to pay for maintenance and assume liability for a sidewalk they say isn’t yet necessary.

The focus of the discussion is a plan developed by the Base Area Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee to replace the intersection of Mount Werner Circle and Aprés Ski Way with a traffic roundabout.

The Snowflower owners hold a 42-square-foot trump card — a corner of their property. Redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum said he really couldn’t proceed with construction of the traffic roundabout and the sidewalk without the Snowflower granting a permanent easement across that corner, a spot that measures 42 square feet.

The sidewalk would help pedestrians navigate the intersection. It would wrap around the triangular Snowflower property connecting the Gondola Transit Center with Village Drive.

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. President Chris Dia­mond, a member of the advisory committee, sought a compromise last week by promising his company would assume responsibility for maintenance of the sidewalk from the transit center to the intersection.

Snowflower owner John Kwiatkowski began Friday’s meeting by suggesting the city needs to come up with a broad plan for footing maintenance bills that would be shared equitably by property owners all around the mountain base.

“There’s no overall maintenance responsibility plan,” Kwiatkowski said.

Kracum said his arithmetic showed the annual cost of sidewalk maintenance for each of the 36 units at Snowflower would be $158.

But Humphrey pointed out that the condo owners have seen significant drops in rental revenues as construction of One Steamboat Place has proceeded next door.

By the end of the meeting, compromises won the day as Humphrey and a handful of Snowflower owners agreed to play ball.

The Snowflower owners agreed they would seek the approval of their board to grant easements necessary for the sidewalk in exchange for a promise that it would not actually be built until the design solution for the Village Drive intersection is in place.

The committee voted unanimously to wait another 30 days to allow financial analysis and preparation of the easements to continue before recommending approval of the plan to the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority.

Kracum said that budget permitting, construction on the roundabout and the sidewalk from the Transit Center to Aprés Ski Way could go forward this summer. Grading for the disputed length of sidewalk on Aprés Ski Way also would take place this summer. Other work planned this summer includes redesigning the promenade at the base of the ski area and the daylighting of Burgess Creek to take into account changes at the base, including new ski lifts.

In other business, the committee recommended extending the contract for Kracum Resources LLC.

“We’re thrilled to have Joe under contract for another three years,” Planning Services Manager John Eastman said. “He’s built a great team.”

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail

New Project - Sundance North

Sundance North condos close to shopping, dining
By Tom Ross - Steambot Pilot

Sunday, February 17, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The city’s newest mixed residential/commercial project won’t break ground until this summer — and more than 30 percent of the residential units already are under contract.

Coleman Cook and Joyce Hartless of Colorado Group Realty confirmed this week that their company’s Realtors have identified outside buyers for 10 of the 27 condominiums at Sundance North on Anglers Drive.

Cook said the strength of the residential condominiums is their proximity to dining and shopping. Residents will be able to walk to several restaurants and boutique shops across the street, and the Safeway grocery store is just on the other side of Fish Creek.

“Convenience is what we’re really selling here more than anything else,” Cook said.

Hartless and Cook are among four Colorado Group Realty broker-owners who make up the listing team for the residential condos. The others are Joy Rasmussen and Joe Cashen. Jon Sanders and Jim Cook are representing the commercial space.

Sundance North will comprise three large buildings and one small commercial building immediately opposite the existing Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center. The site is one block east of the intersection with U.S. Highway 40. The developers are Jim Cook and three partners from the Illinois/Indiana area, including Tom McCalley of Carmel, Ind.

The exterior facades of the buildings are designed so each commercial storefront resembles a separate building in an urban downtown. Varying roof styles and materials enhance the effect.

“We’re going to incorporate a lot of steel trusses and beams, which we haven’t seen a lot of,” Coleman Cook said.

The architect is Eric Smith Associates. The general contractor is Calcon Constructors, the same company building Howelsen Place in downtown Steamboat. Construction is expected to take 14 to 16 months, with delivery of completed units in fall 2009.

The two- and three-bedroom condos range in size from 990 to 1,560 square feet. Each residence includes an underground parking space. They range in price from $475,000 to $665,000.

“I hope they’ll appeal to locals looking for an affordable alternative,” Hartless said.

Cook said the developers deliberately targeted a price range where inventory is currently low in Steamboat. So far, the mix of buyers includes full-time residents, second-home buyers and investors, he said.

The condominiums have 9-foot ceilings to enhance the feeling of openness. Most of the floor plans are laid out with the kitchen, dining room and living room all in a line

separated only by the kitchen bar. All of the condominiums have decks, and all of them are south-facing to take advantage of winter sun.

Interior finishes include slate, maple floors and cabinets, granite countertops, four-panel pine doors, gas fireplaces with stone accents, and stainless steel appliances.

Of the 10 units already under contract, seven are three-bedroom units. The project also includes three deed-restricted units that offer two bedrooms and two baths, plus two accessible units.

Coleman Cook said the condos that haven’t been put under contract by Colorado Group Realtors in the past two weeks were entered into the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service last week, and he will introduce them to the entire real estate community Tuesday.

Terms call for $5,000 at contract signing followed by a 14-day diligence period, after which 10 percent of the purchase price less the $5,000 is due.

To be represented by a Buyers Agent for this project or any others in Steamboat Springs contact me: Michelle Diehl, GRI - Broker Associate with Century 21 Ski Town Associates (970)846-1086

Steamboat 700 Pledges Dollars to Identify Workforce Demand

Steamboat 700 pledges dollars to identify workforce, demand
By Brandon Gee - Steamboat Pilot
Friday, February 15, 2008

Steamboat 700 by the numbers
Size: 700 acres

Buildout: 10 to 25 years

Residential units: 1,827 to 2,243

High-density residential units (condos, townhouses, apartments): 45 percent

Small, single-family lots (under 8,000 square feet) or duplexes: 36 percent

Square footage of commercial/nonresidential uses: 272,000 to 331,000

Affordable housing target: 80 percent to 150 percent AMI (area median income)

Permanently deed-restricted housing provided by developer: 20 percent (367 to 448 units)

Topography: Most slopes 5 percent to 15 percent, some 30 percent or more on bluffs and hillsides

“Village centers:” three to four stories

Open space: 221 acres (32 percent)

Trails: 10+ miles

Infrastructure cost: $103 million

Additional off-site automobile trips a day generated: 14,000

— Source: Steamboat 700 Initial Submittal, November 2007
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat 700 development team hopes to put some faces to the numbers that are thrown around in discussions about affordable housing.

The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which provides community development guidelines for land including the Steamboat 700 parcel, requires developers to provide 20 percent of their homes as affordable housing to people who make an average of 80 percent of the area median income, or AMI. Steamboat 700 proposes to target an average of 120 percent of AMI. The discrepancy has created conflict between developers and the city. It also has many wondering — whether the target is 80 percent or 120 percent — who the housing will actually serve.

“The housing plan should focus on housing people, not statistics,” Peter Smirniotopoulos, Steamboat 700’s housing consultant, said at the project’s pre-application review before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission on Thursday. “The purpose, as we understand it, is to provide housing for the workforce.”

Steamboat 700 principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said his emphasis on a higher income bracket is based on research of the community. The research suggests the workforce that Steamboat officials are interested in retaining earns more than 80 percent of AMI.

“We believe the community housing plan should consider housing needs beyond 80 percent of AMI,” Smirniotopoulos said.

To help personalize the statistics, Peter Patten, a land-use consultant employed by Mulcahy, said Steamboat 700 will fund one-third of the cost for a “comprehensive demand analysis to identify the breadth and depth of the community’s need for workforce housing.” The city and Yampa Valley Housing Authority would partner in the study.

During public comment at Thursday’s meeting, Noreen Moore said the city’s policies might be too focused on service industry employees, rather than young professionals who might make as much as six figures but still can’t afford to live in Steamboat Springs. She said companies like TIC are very important to Steamboat and that rapidly rising home prices are “a real threat to economic diversity.”

“I’m asking you to help the industry sector we don’t see but that is very important to us,” said Moore, business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Co­­operative.

Housing considerations have dominated discussions about Steamboat 700. Planning Services Manager John Eastman said that is because affordable housing is the most pressing community need that needs to be addressed in west Steamboat development, and as a condition of the annexation requested by Steamboat 700 developers.

“We want a real community,” Eastman said. “The fundamental community contract was that we get this part right.”

Ski Time Square Demolition Scheduled for Summer

Ski Time Square demolition scheduled for summer
By Blythe Terrell - Steamboat Pilot & TODAY
Thursday, March 6, 2008

Steamboat Springs — It’s official: Demolition of Ski Time Square will happen all at once, and it will start this summer.

Businesses were notified Friday that they’ll have to be out — some next month, some a few months later. The Atira Group and Washington, D.C.-based Cafritz Interests are partnering to raze and redevelop the buildings around the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Although the groups had talked about demolishing the properties in phases, that is no longer under consideration, said Jane Blackstone, a development manager with Atira. She cited concerns with the sprinkler system used in Ski Time Square buildings that has required tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs and, in at least one case, 24-hour surveillance from local fire employees.

“This sprinkler issue is a safety issue, and our first priority is to keep the buildings safe,” Blackstone said. “We have made what we believe is a responsible decision to take all the buildings down this summer, roughly a year before they would come down in a phased approach.”

Steamboat Trading Co. owner Erich Esswein said he had expected the phased approach to go through. He figured that he could have about $200,000 in inventory to get rid of come the end of ski season.

To address that issue, Ski Time Square retailers are planning a garage sale the first week of April, Esswein said. The Butcher Shop will be selling decades’ worth of photos, antiques and collectibles, he said.

“I think it’s a sad time in Steamboat history, just seeing Ski Time Square go,” Esswein said. “Just the cast of characters who own the businesses here and work here — it’s a big change.”

Tenants will leave at different times during the next few months, depending on the terms of their leases and whether any decide to leave early, Atira officials said. All businesses will be out by September, said Mark Mathews, vice president of development at Atira.

Mathews and Blackstone stressed that the community has pushed for the changes at Ski Time Square.

“I do think that all of this redevelopment was encouraged and embraced by the city and the community,” Blackstone said.

She said the developers are not yet to the point where they can start talking about what will go into the new mixed-use property. Current tenants might have options in the new development, Blackstone said, but there will be a time gap between demolition and completion of construction. The groups also are redeveloping Thunderhead Lodge.

The city of Steamboat Springs is sponsoring a study to determine the retail needs of the base area.

“What we’re excited about is really using an integrated approach to having a vibrant, mixed-use property, looking at how all these are going to flow together,” Mathews said.

The Atira officials said Steamboat needs to improve the area to improve its status as a tourist destination.

“We have a world-class mountain; now we want a world-class base area,” Blackstone said.

Try the Steamboat Pilot

Road Costs

Our View: Get ready for road costs
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Steamboat Pilot & TODAY
Editorial Board, January to April 2008
Bryna Larsen, publisher
Brent Boyer, editor
Mike Lawrence, city editor
Tom Ross, reporter
Noreen Moore, community representative
Tom Miller-Freutel, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Steamboat Springs — The gaping lack of state transportation funding could not occur at a more poignant time for Routt County residents and demands a community-wide reassessment of how we plan to get around — and how we pay for infrastructure.

The numbers are startling. The Northwest Trans­portation Region of Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Grand and Rio Blanco counties is expected to receive only $23.5 million for highways between now and 2035.

That amount could fund less than 12 miles of road improvements, given that work on Colorado Highway 131 this summer could cost $2 million a mile.

“That’s not a new road … and that’s not even adding lanes,” said Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, who also is vice chairwoman of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Northwest Transportation Planning Region.

Adding lanes is a need forecast for U.S. Highway 40 west of downtown Steamboat Springs. U.S. 40 is administered by CDOT and is seeing traffic that will get heavier as the Routt County population likely doubles by 2035.

Population growth is just one of many road-related tempests brewing in the Yampa Valley teapot. CDOT’s repaving of Lincoln Avenue, the city’s redesign of the downtown streetscape, the proposed Steamboat 700 development, the Colo. 131 work, and redevelopment at the base of Steamboat Ski Area all will reshape our travel in coming years.

“There’s just so many things converging at one time,” said Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “Our goal right now is gaining understanding and educating ourselves.”

To that end, the Chamber’s economic development committee is focusing this year’s Economic Summit on transportation. The summit is titled “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” and is tentatively scheduled for May 21 and 22 at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

We applaud the choice of such a timely topic. A month ago in this space, we called on our legislators to ramp up efforts to secure transportation funding for Northwest Colorado. We now call upon local citizens to be part of the solution as well.

Use public transit. Walk on the Yampa River Core Trail rather than drive short trips downtown. Dust off the bike on sunny days.

And stay informed when the money proposals come up. Because they will. Whether it’s a statewide gas tax increase, larger vehicle registration fees to fund state highway maintenance or paid parking on Lincoln Avenue, alternative funding sources are surely looming down the road.

And it won’t be the first time.

In 2005, Colorado voters rejected Referendum D, which would have allowed the state to bond about $1.2 billion for highways and bridge repairs and other CDOT projects.

But even if approved, that money likely would have been a drop in the bucket compared to future funding needs. In a January report, the Colorado Trans­portation Finance and Implementation Panel projected a $155 billion transportation funding gap by 2030.

As Routt County experiences rapid growth and development, it will be up to us — not the state — to take care of our roads and maximize their use. Be a part of the solution.

Stamboat to end 2007-2008 Ski Season on April 6th

Closing day April 6
Staffing, flight, revenue challenges outweigh heavy snow
By Melinda Dudley - Steambaot Pilot & TODAY
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Colorado ski area closing dates
Arapahoe Basin: Early June

Aspen Highlands: April 6

Aspen Mountain: April 13

Beaver Creek: April 13

Breckenridge: April 20

Buttermilk: April 6

Copper Mountain: April 13

Crested Butte: April 13

Echo Mountain: April 13

Durango (Purgatory): April 6

Eldora: Mid-April

Howelsen: March 30

Keystone: April 13

Loveland: May

Monarch Mountain: April 13

Powderhorn: March 30

Silverton: June 15

Ski Cooper: March 30

Snowmass: April 13

Sol Vista Basin: March 30

Steamboat: April 6

Sunlight: April 6

Telluride: April 6

Vail: April 13

Winter Park: April 13

Wolf Creek: April 27
Steamboat Springs — Despite record snowfall levels that are prompting other Colorado ski resorts to add additional weeks to their calendars, the Steamboat Ski Area is planning to close as scheduled this season, on April 6.

Snow levels aside, additional weeks in April simply aren’t profitable enough to warrant pushing back closing day, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said.

Wolf Creek Ski Area, counting 489 inches of snow as of Thursday, opted to extend its season last week. Wolf Creek’s runs will now remain open until April 13, and the resort will host skiers and riders two additional weekends: April 19 and 20 and April 26 and 27.

Monarch Mountain and Durango Mountain Resort, or Purgatory, also have announced extensions to their 2007-08 seasons, Colorado Ski Country USA spokeswoman Jennifer Rudolph said. Durango and Monarch both added an additional week of skiing and are now scheduled to close April 6 and 13, respectively.

At the end of February, Steamboat’s 399 inches of snow already had made 2007-08 at least the sixth-snowiest winter on record at the ski area. And this season marked the first time Steamboat received at least 100 inches of snow in three straight months — December, January and February.

But expanding ski season is not a common practice at the Steamboat Ski Area and has not been done since April 1993, Thomsen said.

Some local business workers said they would welcome an extended-season boost.

“You’d think they’d throw us a little local bone, but no,” restaurateur Eric Delaney said. Delaney was holding down the fort Thursday at Saketumi while his brother, who owns the base area business, was out of town.

Delaney expressed frustration that Ski Corp. was “cutting the season on both sides.” In addition to losing nine days in November — due to an unseasonably warm, dry fall — the season lasted an additional nine days last year, when closing day was April 15.

“We lost business when people canceled their reservations at the beginning of the season,” Delaney said. “Even just another week would be huge.”

Spring drop-off
Big snow early in the season does not necessarily draw crowds as spring approaches, and people pack up their skis and snowboards and take mountain bikes and tents out of storage.

“Usually, we see the demand drop off as it gets warmer and sunnier,” Thomsen said. “If it’s 70 degrees in Denver, people are going to get excited about other spring sports and activities.”

Rental shops dependent on the ski area agreed that the expected tourist drop-off in April would not make additional weeks of skiing especially profitable.

By April, restaurants and lodging properties already are closing their doors, and marketing for additional weeks would have had to start months ago for paying tourists to be hitting the slopes instead of just locals, said Todd Fellows, a manager at Ski Haus.

“Certainly, they’re not going to pay to keep their staff on the mountain for locals who don’t buy lift tickets, don’t eat hamburgers and don’t pay for parking,” Fellows said.

Although Fellows said lengthening the 2007-08 season would not bring significant profits for Ski Haus, his inner powderhound was disappointed.

“It’s a bummer if you’re a skier,” he said.

Another major factor in Ski Corp.’s decision-making is that the ski season flights at Yampa Valley Regional Airport also are scheduled to make their final departures April 6, Thomsen said.

“When the flights stop, the revenue stops,” Fellows said.

The ski area also could run into problems with its 1800 seasonal workers, who make up 90 percent of its employees. Both domestic and international seasonal workers often have existing plans to return to their hometown, including pre-purchased flights, and could be unable to work longer than expected, Thomsen said.

Sheraton to Remodel / Ski Time Square News

Resort begins full-scale renovations near end of season
By Melinda Dudley - Steamoat Pilot & TODAY
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The Sheraton Steamboat Resort will shut its doors two days early this ski season to begin full-scale renovations, kicking off an off-season of destruction and construction at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

In addition to the construction of 45 new vacation condominiums managed by Starwood Vacation Ownership, a division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the Sheraton Steamboat’s face-lift will include renovations of the resort’s common area and hotel rooms.

Sales of the two- and three-bedroom luxury “vacation villa” units began just more than two weeks ago, Starwood spokesman David Matheson said. The first phase, renovating the Sheraton Steamboat’s common areas and the existing rental condominiums in the Morningside Tower, is expected to be completed later this year, in time for new residents to take ownership before the 2008-09 ski season, Matheson said.

Two-bedroom units are about 1,617 square feet, and three-bedroom units range from 1,762 to 1,946 square feet, according to Starwood’s Web site. Director of Marketing Zach Berry declined to quote prices for ownership.

Prices vary considerably from mud season on the low end, to the “holiday week” between Christmas and New Year’s Day, which nets a significantly higher price, Berry said.

Ownership arrangements with Starwood differ from most fractional ownership arrangements, in that owners purchase specific weeks outright, Berry said.

The vacation villas will be divided between the Morningside Tower and the East Tower, with 21 and 24 units, respectively. The East Tower currently houses 80 hotel rooms. The 191 hotel rooms in the Sheraton Steamboat Resort’s West Tower also are headed for renovations after the condominiums are completed.

In May, Starwood purchased the hotel and the 18-hole Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course for a little less than $57 million. Starwood previously had a management contract to operate the resort under former owner Ski Time Square Enterprises, as well as an equity interest in the property.

The Sheraton Steamboat Resort will close down entirely during mud season to begin construction, Matheson said. The property is scheduled to close for the season April 4 — two days before closing day at Steamboat Ski Area. The Sheraton Steamboat Resort will partially reopen June 6 for the summer season.

Ski Time Square

The Atira Group’s proposed redevelopment of Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge is expected to begin later this year, as well, with demolition beginning this summer, Atira Vice President of Development Mark Matthews said Thursday.

The Atira Group was hired on behalf of Washington, D.C.-based Cafritz Interests, which purchased the base area properties in April 2007. In anticipation of Ski Time Square’s demolition, tenants began departing the complex last year when Dos Amigos closed in September.

Plans for the redevelopment are not yet final, as The Atira Group refines them based on comments from the Steamboat Springs City Council and Planning Commission, as well as the project’s neighbors, Matthews said.

City officials in particular pushed for a realignment of Ski Time Square Drive in accordance with the Mountain Town Subarea Plan, which was not included in The Atira Group’s initial submittal to the city. The Mountain Town Subarea Plan calls for Ski Time Square Drive to be pushed north, with the road’s current footprint replaced by a pedestrian plaza.

Plans should be finalized later this month, Matthews said.

Opinion - Paul Hughes: A managing vote

Sunday, February 24, 2008 - Steambaot Pilot & TODAY

Steamboat Springs — Last week, I listened by phone to the City Council discussion of a growth management tool called concurrency management. At the end of that discussion, a surprisingly timid council decided not to pursue concurrency management. I wish council would reconsider, and here’s why.

Concurrency management means that adopted level-of-service standards must not be degraded by the impacts of a proposed development. Put another way, concurrency management says “if your proposed development is going to hurt our services, facilities or infrastructure, then you have to fix them.” Some facilities and services that a community might designate as requiring concurrency are streets, water, sewer, drainage, parks and recreation, schools, police, fire, etc. The city must calculate the existing levels of service based on data and analysis. It can’t make the developer raise a level of service, but it can require that the developer not make the level of service any worse. And — most importantly — the analysis of a development’s impacts must be scientific, not arbitrary.

Right now, Steamboat Springs does not have in place any system or program for accurately assessing the probable impacts of growth or for calculating the fair costs of mitigating those impacts — the all-important “rational nexus.” A few years ago, we tried impact fees, but a couple of Realtors threatened to sue the city, so council caved in and repealed the impact fees in favor of an excise tax on construction. But any resemblance between those excise tax revenues and the actual costs of serving development is purely coincidental. The fact is, Steamboat is currently defenseless against growth that could cost all of us a lot of money down the road.

Much attention is being paid to the development of Steamboat 700, and that’s good. But Steamboat 700 will be easy to manage compared with the growth that is taking place now inside city limits. The annexation agreement that the city will negotiate with that developer should provide good information about its impacts, as well as the funds or measures needed to accommodate it. But we don’t have that same ability to deal with all of the other growth that’s already happening and which will have a cumulative effect that could turn out to be a very unpleasant surprise. Concurrency management is a tool that can help keep our quality of life from eroding, one house, duplex or business at a time.

The council discussion that I heard concluded that concurrency management is too expensive, too complicated and that there are other tools that could do the job just as well. Yes, concurrency management costs money to put in place, but it will cost us much more to continue doing nothing. Yes, it takes time and attention to update the levels of service from time to time, but shouldn’t we be doing that anyway? I know for a fact that we already track our water and sewer capacity, the condition of our streets, the number and type of police and fire calls and so on. As to the “other tools” that we can use, I repeat: We do not now have any adequate system or program in place. What other tools?

Concurrency management is not new. Several states and many cities and counties have required it for years. It works, it’s fair, and it’s easily understandable by all. If City Council and city staff have alternatives that will work just as well, I’m all for that. But I have to ask: If not concurrency management, what? If not now, when?

Paul Hughes

Steamboat Springs

Opinion-Steve Aigner: Annexation review

Sunday, February 24, 2008 - Steambaot Pilot & TODAYSteamboat Springs — The paper’s editorial, “An open-door housing policy” (Feb. 10, 2008) implies that the policies expressed by the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan are just too narrow. Additionally, the paper seems to be really impressed that Mr. Mulcahy and the Steamboat 700 team is thinking about “creative, forward looking-ideas” that appear to be a request to relax the rules. But while the paper directs its gaze on the development plan, it ignores the far more important issue of annexation, and if the city follows suit, it will be a costly mistake.

Annexation is a rare opportunity to negotiate our community needs as a community. Steamboat 700 has every right to “pitch and woo” in pursuit of profit, and we the community have the pre-emptory right to say no, we will not abandon carefully, deliberatively developed affordable housing goals, articulated in the WSSAP, a social contract achieved through extensive public participatory processes. We must not squander the opportunity to negotiate and realize “exceptional” benefits that must exceed the costs of infrastructure, impacts on water supply and downstream quality, and services to current Steamboat Springs residents in addition to current, unmet needs.

If the City Council accepts the Steamboat 700 proposal to target households averaging 120 percent of the area median income, as the paper seems to urge, then Steamboat Springs loses big time. The WSSAP stipulates that 20 percent of the new housing units will be available to those households whose incomes average 80 percent of the AMI. This stipulation wasn’t drawn out of thin air. The city’s analysis of income levels, “keep up” and “catch up” housing objectives and specific strategies to achieve these objectives is well documented (see

Annexation is a negotiation between the city and the petitioner, and we cannot let the city acquiesce to Steamboat 700’s desire to change the target — at least not without a substantial offer of public benefit in return. We have to recognize we are negotiating the future of our community. Negotiating an annexation is a process well beyond the scope of simply reviewing an attractive conceptual master plan.

We welcome the paper’s point of “creative, forward looking ideas” that flexibly expand “the range of buyers who could qualify for affordable homes,” but only after we reach the well-substantiated target of an average of 80 percent AMI for 20 percent of the housing units. That’s the beauty of annexation — Steamboat 700 can and should stipulate some “creative, forward-looking ideas.”

Here are some examples of such ideas: 1) a capital gains fee or a real estate transfer assessment (RETA, as Steamboat 700 proposes) that declines from 10 percent or more on the resale in the first year to 1 percent after year five to discourage “flipping” lots and houses — the primary driver of real estate speculation here; 2) title restrictions requiring sales and resales to qualified buyers, defined as full-time residents (at least eight months per year, for example), and used as an overlay on specified residential zones; 3) small lot zoning (think Old Town). Combing all of the above could yield more profit for the developer and more for our community — maybe achieving 33 percent, or even 40 percent, affordable housing.

At this stage of the annexation, the city should identify and put forth community needs — what needs can annexation satisfy? This is what differentiates annexations from developments. We must take full advantage of this rare opportunity, and we can do it in partnership with Steamboat 700 as the annexation petitioner. As we all know, good partnerships are created through negotiated agreements where each party wins.

Steve Aigner

Community organizer, Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley