Friday, March 14, 2008

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.

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