Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ready for a Life Change? Move to Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Believing, Achieving, Succeeding for YOU!

If you are considering a move to Steamboat Springs, Colorado or the surrounding communities let me help you. We moved to Steamboat nine year ago from the Littleton area (near Denver, CO) when our kids were 3 & 5. We have loved every minute of being here. This is a great community to raise your family, build a business, and enjoy nature. We love that we are in a resort area with all the amenities, yet we have room to breath with all the wide open spaces. I am an advocate for my buyers and sellers. Its all about your dream and what you want. Call me and tell me what you hope to find and I will be happy to look for you. The internet is a great tool, but I can make your search much easier. Describe your dream home to me, and I can set you up on an automatic search that will peruse our MLS system daily for "just listed" properties that match your dream home parameters. The system will automatically send the home's description and pictures to your in-box. If you see something you like, then call or e-mail me, and I will find out more detail for you I will also preview the property for you and take additional pictures. Whatever you are looking for, I can help you find it.

Steamboat is a great town because we have a real sense of community here. I have never seen so many charitable golf tournaments and fund raisers (and love them all). We all seem to just help each other. Every time I go to the grocery store I see someone I know. Everybody looks after each others kids too. It’s a safe place to relax and really live. If you are considering a resort with world class skiing, an airport close by, schools of excellence, and a real hometown feel, consider Steamboat. We have something for everyone. Our average home prices are below similar resorts like Aspen, Telluride, Vail, and Jackson Hole. I also love to worship here. There are numerous church choices and plenty of Bible studies to join in. No matter what activity you love, you will find a friend who loves to do what you love to do. I hope you will consider Steamboat Springs if you are looking for a simpler, happier, calmer life style change. My life has been so blessed by being a part of this community.

I am happy to help - call or e-mail me... Thank you for your business. Please read my testimonials at

Michelle Diehl, GRI

To obtain information on any property in Routt County including Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Prudential Steamboat Realty.
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Yacht Club & Backdoor Sports Buildings (not businesses) on Yampa Purchase

Whitewater Run development would transform river frontage
Currents of change on Yampa Street
By Tom Ross (Contact)
Sunday, July 13, 2008

Steamboat Springs — Principals in Riverfront Partners LLC have formally announced their purchase of the Yacht Club restaurant building and attached open space, plus the steel building on Yampa Street housing Backdoor Sports.

The intent is to refurbish and keep the Yacht Club operating as a restaurant. However, there are new development plans on the site.

“Approximately 20,000 square feet of the site will be redeveloped into a mixed-use project with retail at the first level and residential on the upper floors,” Ellen Fauss said. “In addition, the owners expect to work closely with the city and the fishing and kayaking communities to further improve some of the riparian areas of the riverfront.”

Fauss is associated with R.L. Fauss, a construction contractor that has headquarters in Fremont, Neb. The company has built public schools, convenience stores, apartment buildings and hotels.

Morton and Ellen Hoj of the Yacht Club previously confirmed to the Steamboat Pilot & Today their plans to open a new restaurant, The Diplomat, two blocks away in The Victoria, nearing completion at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue. The Yacht Club continues to serve lunch and dinner this summer.

“Riverfront is courting several prospective operators to assure a smooth transition,” Fauss said about the future of the restaurant.

Peter Van De Carr of Back­door Sports said although he would prefer to remain in his current location, he has an option to move a short distance down Yampa Street to 655 Yampa, another riverfront development project. It would replace a large white house on the site.

The building that houses Backdoor Sports was at one time a diesel repair shop; it is adjacent to a city parking lot and the foot bridge over the Yampa River.

The transformation of Yampa Street goes further. The project known as 751 Yampa would replace three small buildings including the Colorado Group Realty sales center, Hell’s Wall sporting goods and the building that houses Sweet Pea Produce and Sunpie’s Bistro. Both businesses previously have confirmed they are looking at other sites.

Whitewater Run would occupy a large green lawn and a private parking lot between the Yacht Club and Backdoor Sports. Conceptual drawings for the new building show a three-story elevation along the river with gabled roofs breaking up the mass of the buildings. Another prominent feature is a pedestrian pass-through open to the air and leading through the building to the riverfront.

Coleman Cook of Colorado Group Realty will market the project. The architect is Eric Smith Associates.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Affordable Housing in Steamboat Springs - One Man's Opinion

Robert Miner: Get rid of agenda
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I’m sure all of our local politicians and bureaucrats celebrated Independence Day. July Fourth should be a celebration of American freedom, independence and self-reliance.

Were our politicians and bureaucrats celebrating in good conscience the independence of American citizens that is based on self-reliance and lack of government interference, which leads to our free enterprise system, which leads to the most prosperous nation in recorded history?

How can the Steamboat Springs City Council and other local government bureaucrats celebrate American independence yet aggressively promote a socialist agenda — to each according to his need — through its so-called “affordable” housing initiatives, zoning and other policies?

“Affordable” housing as promoted by our local bureaucrats is subsidized housing in one form or another. All of the subsidized housing schemes are wealth transfer payments of some kind. A very limited number of housing units are subsidized from taxes or by requiring a large portion of home owners to pay a relatively higher price for their homes in any development to subsidize part of the home cost of the so called “affordable” homes.

If the objective of the subsidized (affordable) housing schemes is to make available lower-cost housing, they have precisely the opposite effect to the community at large. Because unsubsidized housing (“market priced”) must be priced relatively higher than the price in a free and unsubsidized market in order to cover the cost of the “affordable” housing subsidy, the majority of buyers must pay more for their housing to pay the difference of the below market priced, subsidized housing.

These subsidies have a much more costly, long-term effect to the community. Because the unsubsidized homes are sold for a higher price than they would be sold in a free market of unsubsidized homes, the relative values of all comparable properties in the community are raised. The result of the “affordable” housing programs is the majority of the homes in the community are priced higher than they would be if there were no subsidized housing programs forced on developers. The result is exactly the opposite of what the “affordable” housing bureaucrats claim they are striving for.

All costs of the affordable housing initiatives are passed on to the home buyers of the “market priced,” unsubsidized homes. Plus, all of the additional costs born by the developers to comply with the “affordable” housing laws are also added to the price of the unsubsidized homes, making them even more expensive and further raising the price of resale homes, which are priced by comparable sales of the higher-priced, unsubsidized homes.

Our local politicians and bureaucrats who are forcing the “affordable” housing programs on developers in our community are in reality making housing relatively more expensive for the vast majority of the community. Not just for new home buyers in developments that must mark up the price of the unsubsidized homes to cover the subsidized cost of the “affordable” home but for resale home buyers as well through the higher comparable sales prices. All because of the socialist ideals of our local politicians that could not be further from the principles of independence and self-reliance that we celebrate each July Fourth.

This community was founded by independent and self-reliant men and women who took great personal and financial risks to found a ranching community. They succeeded or failed on their own terms. This community has thrived and prospered because of the initiative and sacrifice of men and women who developed the ski and tourism industry into a prosperous community for all.

If our local politicians and bureaucrats truly believe in the principles of independence, self-reliance and free enterprise secured at such great cost by so many of our citizens over so many years, they will revoke all “affordable” housing laws, initiatives and deed restrictions. Only then can they in good conscious celebrate Independence Day in 2009.

Robert Miner

Steamboat Springs

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Torian Plum Plaza Promenade Update

No promenade before 2010
Pedestrian pathway at base of ski area still beyond horizon
By Tom Ross (Contact) - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Roundabout on time
Steamboat base area redevelopment Project Manager Joe Kracum reported Friday that the new traffic roundabout at Après Ski Way is on time for completion Sept. 15. The first lift of asphalt has been paved on the eastern half of the roundabout and cars already are driving on it, Kracum said. The first run of asphalt should be in place on the entire roundabout by Aug. 11, he added. The project is tracking several thousand dollars less than its $1.9 million budget, Kracum said.

Steamboat Springs — Construction on the much-anticipated pedestrian promenade at the base of Steamboat Ski Area almost certainly will not begin until the summer of 2010.

Members of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee stopped short Friday of ruling out 2009 construction on the first section of the promenade, in front of Torian Plum Plaza. But the hurdles remaining to be cleared suggest 2010.

Not the least of the challenges is a group of 100 individual condominium owners at Torian Plum. Also intensely interested are business owners who occupy the commercial condominiums at Torian.

Many of the owners are working hard on the base area improvement project. Others want to be reassured that the public improvements funded by property taxes earmarked for base area redevelopment won’t detract from the advantages their properties already enjoy.

“We have to have 67 percent of our owners in favor,” Torian Homeowners Association board member Ron Harrelson told the Advisory Committee. “The majority of our board members are all for (the promenade), but we’ve even got some board members who are opposed. And unfortunately, there’s a minority of the owners who are adamantly opposed and have been sending fliers and leaflets around.”

The owners at Torian aren’t blocking public improvements at the base of the ski area. But Harrelson said board members need help selling the improvements. The needs of Torian owners, and the complexity of meeting them, are indicative of the challenges ahead.

Harrelson said they feel strongly that their condos offer some of the truest ski-in/ski-out access at Steamboat and are concerned that the new promenade, as some design alternatives show it, would increase the distance from the edge of the snowline to the Torian Plum entrance.

The promenade would wrap around the bottom of the ski area like a horseshoe, providing much-needed cohesion to a resort village that always has been dysfunctional in terms of pedestrian accessibility. Along with construction of the promenade, Burgess Creek would be daylighted in the summer where it flows across the lowest ski trails on the mountain.

Project Manager Joe Kracum said a spoke on the horseshoe, linking the new One Steamboat Place with Après Ski Way, could be built next summer without much difficulty. But the logical first section of the promenade itself is in front of Torian. Before that could begin next summer, a tricky operations and maintenance agreement must be forged with private property owners no later than the end of August. And it would be helpful to know how much property tax revenue will be available for the roughly $9.3 million project, Kracum said.

Other issues

Doug Terry, owner of Terry Sports in Torian Plum Plaza, sounded a confident note about the O&M agreement.

“If we do it, and do it professionally, we can get it done,” Terry said.

However, he agreed that November is a more realistic target date than August.

Nicole Horst of consulting planners Wenk Associates presented a variety of design solutions Friday for different segments of the trail.

She described the complexities of striving for a consistent 5 percent grade along the trail for accessibility and pedestrians in ski boots. Horst has designed multiple ramps feeding into short staircases to surmount elevation changes such as the 20 feet to the top of the grass-covered parking lot at Torian.

Horst wants to leave ample room for fire pits, small amphitheaters for gatherings and a large performance stage. All of those considerations are secondary to ensuring fire trucks can drive within 150 feet of the mountainside of condominium towers.

One feature that could be in jeopardy is a small ice skating rink.

“What I heard during the design charette was that an ice rink might be nice,” Horst said. “But maybe a larger rink located more centrally.”

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat Springs City Budget Crunch - According to Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas: Something’s got to give
By Rob Douglas
Friday, July 11, 2008

Rob Douglas
Rob Douglas’ column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Steamboat Springs — This week, the rejuvenated Steamboat Springs City Council heard the most refreshing words spoken in Centennial Hall since voters expressed their displeasure with the profligate spending habits of the last council by electing five new faces in November 2007.

In fact, on Tuesday evening the phrase “something’s got to give” echoed through the Citizens Meeting Room, not once but twice.

Those sobering words were occasioned by the council’s first glimpse of just how bare the city’s financial cupboard is when illuminated by the harsh light of a stagnant economy. The lagging national economy now is impacting a city hobbled by previous councils that threw dollars at wish-list projects — instead of prudently building reserves — as though Rabbit Ears Pass would inoculate us from any economic downturn.

Specifically, Tuesday saw the first public review of the Preliminary 2009 Revenue Projections and Funding Requests Report. The report anticipates 2009 revenue to decline by 4 percent with potential increased losses in 2010.

The knee-jerk reaction by many to learning of a projected decline of 4 percent will be the same as mine: “No big deal. A cut here and a cut there, and we’re home free.”

Not so fast, kemo sabe.

Hold your horses a few more moments and you’ll understand why — when the council asked city finance staff how to bridge the gap between decreased revenue and increased spending requests — city Finance Director Lisa Rolan and Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord proclaimed “something’s got to give.”

With revenue projected to decrease 4 percent next year, city departments — as instructed by the Finance Department — requested 3 percent operating increases. Reasonable from a preliminary budgeting perspective and manageable with well-placed cuts and line item budget transfers.

However, non-city departments — community groups seeking your tax dollars to fund their organizations — requested an aggregate 31 percent increase.

Yes, you read that right. Community groups that are not directly a part of core city-run operations are seeking 31 percent more for 2009 than they received in 2008. The requested increase follows several previous years of dramatic increases.

Since 2003, community support has received the following percentage changes: 2003 (plus 3 percent), 2004 (plus 16.2 percent), 2005 (minus 4.4 percent), 2006 (plus 13.3 percent), 2007 (plus 12 percent) and 2008 (plus 1.3 percent).

Quite simply, the city is on a path where declining revenue is about to collide head-on with a growing population’s need for essential city services, compounded by outsized community support requests. And, as though that were not enough, the city’s reserves are far below where they should be, and essential capital projects including road, water and other core infrastructure maintenance are long overdue for attention vital to preserving a safe city.

Given the current financial reality, there are two courses of action the council can take.

The first is to follow in the footsteps of previous councils by patching together a budget for next year that further deflates reserve funds and allows continuing infrastructure deterioration while spending funds on utopian projects and community groups — long addicted to public funds — instead of pushing them toward self-reliance and private funding.

That path entails gambling with the financial health of the city by betting the local economy will rebound overnight. Politically, it is the easy path as it will satisfy the special interest groups parading before the council with their hands out.

The second course of action takes political courage. It requires throwing out the failed budget practices of previous councils and a return to what government was meant to be — a provider of services and infrastructure that individuals and the private sector can’t provide, coupled with aid for the truly needy. This path would immediately free funds to build appropriate reserves for future economic downturns.

The financial detritus of past councils now lies at the feet of the current council. The council must choose whether to continue the policies of the past or make their mark by returning city government to providing services only government can provide while allowing the free market to operate.

There is reason to believe there are some on this council who seek to rein in government spending, but the reality is that on Tuesday evenings they are far more likely to hear from those seeking public funds than those seeking limited government.

The squeaky wheel is the one most likely to get greased.

That’s how we got where we are today.

Rob Douglas can be reached at

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat 700 Development a Step Closer to Annexation

Steamboat Planning Commission votes to expand urban boundary
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Urban Growth Boundary amendment public hearings
When: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 5 p.m.
Where: Routt County Courthouse Annex, Commissioners' Hearing Room

Steamboat Springs — Steamboat 700 has won a small victory in the battle to be built.

The Steamboat Springs Plan­ning Commission voted, 4-3, late Thursday night to recommend an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in western Steamboat Springs to accommodate 185 acres of the proposed Steamboat 700 development.

The Steamboat 700 team still needs to win a recommendation for approval from the Routt County Planning Commission, and the final decision about its urban growth boundary re­-quest will come Aug. 12, during a joint meeting of the Steam­boat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

The UGB is a line that was established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan to delineate between land to be developed for future urban use and lands that should be kept for rural use.

Inclusion of a site in the UGB is a step toward annexing the site into city limits.

Steamboat planning commissioners Kathi Meyer, Karen Dixon, Tom Ernst and alternate Brian Hanlen supported a UGB expansion for Steamboat 700, while commissioners Rich Levy, Sarah Fox and Cedar Beauregard voted against an expansion.

City Planner Jason Peasley advised the commissioners to ask themselves, “Is this property appropriate for developing and does it meet the needs of the community?” when de­­ciding whether to extend the UGB.

Steamboat 700 is a proposed 700-acre development — 185 acres of which lie outside the UGB — that could include up to 2,200 residences and 300,000 square feet of commercial space. The area that lies within the UGB is designated by the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan to be developed into a mixed-use community for future growth.

“The biggest part of this was that, in my opinion, moving the UGB here is a logical change,” Meyer said of her decision to recommend approval. West of Steamboat Springs already is identified as the direction the city should grow, Meyer said, and the applicant demonstrated that the existing UGB wasn’t based on any physical constraints on the property.

Although Levy agreed that development should occur west of the city, he disapproved of the amount of development proposed by Steamboat 700.

“I think this kind of expanded development is premature,” Levy said, citing the lack of a traffic study and unknown capacities of U.S. 40. He said the UGB was created as a growth-rate control mechanism and is the only such tool at the city’s disposal.

“The community stated rapid growth as one of their top concerns,” Levy said. “And I think this is what that is.”

Meyer said one person spoke during public comment to encourage following the guidelines of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and allow growth to take place in the area.

“We are pleased that they approved it,” Steamboat 700 land-use attorney Bob Weiss said. “The applicant is proposing a master plan that encompasses the whole property and in order to provide all of the things the city wants, such as affordable housing and a trail system,” the UGB needs to be amended to include the entire property, Weiss said.

He added that if the UGB isn’t amended, the way the land is currently zoned, then “it will end up being several large-lot trophy houses, and I don’t think that is in the best interest of the community.”

The UGB line is not permanent and is intended to be a growth management tool that requires lengthy community discussion about the future growth goals of the city before it can be amended, city planners said.

There are three more public meetings to discuss this year’s five applications to amend the UGB before the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners make the final decisions in August.

— To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 871-4243 or e-mail

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Expanding Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) - Emerald Mountain (Lyman Orton) Denied

Growth borders remain
Planning Commission votes against Emerald Mountain proposal
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Friday, July 11, 2008

Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs residents could one day see a new neighborhood and Nordic ski lodge on Emerald Mountain — but it likely won’t happen anytime soon.

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted, 5-2, against an application by Lyman Orton, who proposed an extension to the city’s Urban Growth Boundary on Thursday night. Orton was one of five applicants requesting extensions to the city’s UGB for proposed developments.

The UGB is a line established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan in 1995 to identify which lands should be annexed into the city and developed for urban use and which lands shouldn’t be annexed because they are designated for rural use.

Orton proposed a neighborhood on 464 acres on the north side of Emerald Mountain, just outside of city limits. The proposed neighborhood includes mixed-income housing units, many of which would be designated as affordable housing.

For many members of the public Thursday, the most attractive part of Orton’s proposal was a Nordic ski lodge that would house the offices of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and offer recreational opportunities for local youths and avid trail users on Emerald Mountain.

Numerous supporters spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, representing local nonprofit groups, cyclists, trail users, longtime residents and Emerald Mountain enthusiasts. Despite the strong public support, five commissioners voted against the request.

“The public benefit is off the chart,” Commissioner Rich Levy said after moving to deny support for the application, “but it’s not an ideal location for development and is not a logical change to the UGB.”

City planners recommended that commissioners not support the application because it only meets one of five criteria necessary to approve an amendment to the UGB. The level of public benefit was the only element of Orton’s proposal that City Planner Jason Peasley found to be consistent with criteria for expanding the UGB, which is a first step toward annexation into city limits.

Peasley recommended that Orton’s application be tabled until 2009, when the city re-evaluates the community plan — a process that will provide an in-depth look at the goals for future growth.

“I think this project warrants a broad community process,” said Commissioner Kathi Meyer, who also did not support the proposal. “If we move the UGB we create an expectation of annexation, and I don’t think we are there yet.”

She said the public benefit was a wonderful opportunity, but she wanted to see the project meet all of the other criteria, too.

“I’d like to give him the opportunity to go forward with this,” said Commissioner Cedar Beau­regard, who supported the proposal. “It just makes sense.”

He mentioned the opportunity to preserve Emerald Mountain for future generations as a huge benefit to the city. Commissioner Tom Ernst echoed Beauregard’s comments and said he wanted to give Orton the chance to move forward with his ideas.

Although disappointed, Orton expressed understanding of the vote against his proposal.

“I’m actually quite pleased there was a lot of support for the vision,” Orton said, “Their hands aren’t tied, but they aren’t able to say ‘Hey, this sounds good; let’s do it,’ so you can see why they made the decision they did.”

In other action
The commission unanimously recommended an extension of the UGB to incorporate a half-acre parcel owned by Butch Dougherty, but did not support a proposed UGB extension that would include 40 acres of riverfront property near the Tree Haus subdivision.

A presentation by developers of Steamboat 700, who propose extending the UGB to include 185 acres west of Steamboat Springs, continued beyond press time Thursday night.

The presentation for 360 Village, including a proposal to extend the UGB more than 240 acres west of the city limits, was postponed because of the late hour. Notice will be provided when details are confirmed for that proposal’s next hearing.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat Springs Housing Board - Communication Concerns

Housing board talks about communication
By Blythe Terrell - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Friday, July 11, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board talked at length about communication Thursday.

The group spent an hour figuring out how it wanted to be involved with the city of Steamboat Springs’ ongoing discussion about community housing guidelines. Board members said they are concerned they don’t have an opportunity to weigh in before the Steamboat Springs City Council changes housing policies.

They asked Nancy Engelken, the city’s community housing coordinator, to help keep them in the loop at the beginning of the process, before the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission makes recommendations to the council.

Board member and Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak suggested the board take initiative, keep itself informed and discuss what it wanted to comment on.

“I think there’s an obligation on our part to stay on top of it,” Board President Mary Alice Page-Allen said. The group decided to look at proposed changes in advance, have Housing Authority staff make a recommendation to the board and allow the board to provide feedback.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Authority Project Manager Curtis Church told the board that rent will increase Aug. 1 for Fish Creek Mobile Home Park residents. Each renter will pay $15 more a month, putting the average rent just less than $400. The new rent amounts to an increase of about 3.5 percent, Church said.

In other Fish Creek news, the Housing Authority still is working to upgrade the railroad crossing at the mobile-home park. The authority is working with the city and Union Pacific Railroad to add lights, a signal and a crossbar at the tracks, Church said.

Two train-vehicle collisions at the crossing resulted in injuries to three people in late 2005 and early 2006.

The authority has put $550,000 into escrow for the fixes. It had hoped to begin work in March, but negotiations have delayed things, Church said.

“Part of (the deal) was if we can cover it with the $550,000, we can go forward,” Housing Authority Executive Director Donna Howell said.

The crossing, which is now private, will become public, Church said. The city would then maintain it.

“With negotiations with the railroad, it’s taken awhile,” he said. “We’ve just had to recheck the numbers to make sure it still fits into the escrow.”

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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Urban Development Hearing in Steamboat Springs

Urban development expands
Amended growth boundary could bring affordable housing
By Brandon Gee (Contact)- Reporter
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting
When: Thursday, July 10, 2008, 6 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs

Full event details
A joint city and Routt County review of five projects that would redefine Steamboat Springs’ perimeter — in some cases drastically — kicks off today when the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission holds hearings on applications to bring a combined 929.5 acres within the Urban Growth Boundary.

“The Urban Growth Boundary is a transition line established by the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan that clearly identifies which lands will be developed at urban densities and which lands will be kept in rural use,” a report prepared by Steamboat planning staff states.

Areas within the UGB are eligible for annexation into city limits. Those outside of it are not. For three projects in particular, annexation is vital to developers’ plans to increase Steamboat’s housing stock by about 3,000 homes combined in coming years.

One-hundred eighty-five acres of the proposed 700-acre Steamboat 700 project lie outside the UGB, as do 240 acres of the proposed 350-acre 360 Village development. The entire 464-acre Emerald Mountain parcel that owner Lyman Orton hopes to develop lies outside the UGB.

During a Routt County pre-application review of Steamboat 700 in February, County Com­missioner Nancy Stahoviak said approval of a UGB amendment likely would hinge on concessions from the developer.

“There has to be positive and measurable public benefit to the community,” Stahoviak said in February. “If you’re going to go there, we need more.”

The community’s most pressing need as identified by city and county officials, and thus the most attractive public benefit developers could offer, is affordable housing. All three of the large projects propose a major affordable-housing component.

At the Steamboat 700 county review meeting in February, Project Manager Danny Mul­cahy said leaving the boundary as is would reduce his ability to subsidize the affordable housing he intends to build by reducing the number of market-rate units he can build. Stahoviak disagreed. She said the lower density allowed outside the urban growth boundary would still allow Mulcahy to subsidize affordable housing with larger, high-end parcels.

The two smaller applications among the five are for a half-acre lot owned by Butch Dougherty and for 40 acres owned by Alex Koftinow, who proposes 26 dwelling units along the Yampa River. The city’s planning staff is recommending denial of all five applications.

—To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail

Iron Horse Accepting Proposals for Redevelopment

Iron Horse to be redeveloped
City accepting applications of qualifications from developers
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Steamboat Springs — City officials are entertaining the possibility of demolishing the Iron Horse Inn and rebuilding from the ground up.

The City of Steamboat Springs issued a request for qualifications on July 1 to developers, development teams or joint ventures interested in redeveloping the Iron Horse. It originally was purchased by the city in November 2007 in an effort to ensure availability of affordable housing for city employees. Its future now includes the possibility of complete renovation. That could mean a mix of rental and for-sale units combined with commercial or retail uses.

“Basically, we’re saying, ‘Here’s a great parcel of land. If it was yours, how would you develop it?’” Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Monday.

The RFQ process precedes the request for proposal process, and the goal is to identify developers who are qualified to submit a proposal. DuBord said there are about 35 interested companies that have requested RFQ information, and she predicts there will be more before the July 24 deadline.

According to the RFQ, “The City wishes to redevelop the Iron Horse site into an affordable housing development that provides attractive, affordable work force housing which may be a mix of rental and for-sale units.”

DuBord said the city is encouraging creativity from developers, and no redevelopment possibility has been ruled out.

Residential, commercial and retail uses such as day care and offices are encouraged in the RFQ, and the city urges a mix of housing types and income targets that includes at least 20 units for households below 80 percent of the area median income and a possible mix of affordable and market-priced residential units.

“We believe the site is currently being under-utilized,” DuBord said. Based on the potential density for the site, the city possibly could double the number of units to more than 100. Currently, there are 53 units, and the city leases 11 of them to city employees. The remaining units are being used for long-term work force housing and nightly rentals. DuBord said at any given time, the city estimates it will need 10 to 20 of the units for city employees.

The city sought private-sector partnerships for the management of the inn earlier this year and awarded the contract to Resort Group. The plan was to use the Iron Horse for workforce housing only. Resort Group originally planned to take over management of the inn June 1, but the date was pushed back to Oct. 1 or Oct. 31 because “Resort Group felt they did not have time to gear up for the high summer demand,” DuBord said in June.

“Yes, we are interested in the redevelopment aspect of the Iron Horse. It’s part of why we took it on,” Resort Group Vice President Tom Simmins, said Tuesday. He said he is envisioning better quality work force housing and more of it.

“We want to offer the total work force package,” Simmins said, and he thinks that different unit types will allow them to do that. With leases that vary from 4 months to a year, he said they plan to supply housing for not just seasonal employees but also for families that need short-term housing while they find something more permanent.

Currently, rents at the Iron Horse range from $750 per month for an efficiency to $1,800 per month for a two-bedroom unit. Simmins said Resort Group will charge “what the market can bear” for rent.

“We’re all in the business to make money, but we also want to make it palatable and not kill anyone on rent,” Simmins said.

Just as the redevelopment plans for the Iron Horse are up in the air, so is the funding model to pay for it. The RFQ states that the city is willing to contribute the land and may be willing to consider other subsidies, joint funding, concessions and fee waivers. DuBord said she wasn’t sure how the project would be funded and that it’s up to the developers to propose funding ideas.

DuBord plans to select a committee to review qualification submissions and proposals.

After the committee identifies qualified applicants, the next step in the process is to review redevelopment proposals in August or September.

Although the RFQ says “The city would like to redevelop the site as soon as possible,” DuBord said the city is not rushing the proposal process. The Steamboat Springs Workforce Housing Demand Analysis is due out in August, and the Routt County Housing Needs Assessment is due out this fall. DuBord said the results of the surveys will help identify work force and affordable housing needs in Steamboat and give the city and developers a better idea of how to redevelop the Iron Horse Inn.

DuBord predicted the earliest construction would begin on the Iron Horse is the summer 2010.

— To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 871-4243 or e-mail

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Soft Drink Distributor to Open in Hayden, Colorado Near Steamboat Springs

Soft drink distributor to open in Hayden
Company plans to move from Craig this week, start business on Monday
By Blythe Terrell - Reporter Steamobat Pilot & Today
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The new Coca-Cola distributorship in Hayden is set to open for business Monday.

The building, a satellite sales center for Coca-Cola Bottling Company High Country in Rapid City, S.D., will replace the current site in Craig.

The company’s space will increase from 5,500 square feet in the existing building to 25,000 in the new one, Sales Manager Steve Mudge said.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he said.

The new sales center is on the eastern side of town near the Hayden Cemetery. The move has been in the works for three years, and construction has taken about a year, Mudge said.

The sales center serves an area from Maybell to the Winter Park ski area, north to Walden and south to Yampa and Oak Creek, he said.

“We service Granby and Winter Park out of this facility, and we just needed more room,” Mudge said. “The building we were in was dated and rather small.”

The company aims to sell its building in Craig and plans to start moving to the new spot Thursday.

Most employees will commute from Craig, Mudge said. He could not confirm whether the new building would result in more jobs.

“There possibly probably is going to be,” he said.

Mudge said he was looking forward to the move.

“It’s going to be quite exciting to have a brand-new facility,” he said. “Everything is brand-new. The only thing we’re taking from the other facility is the trucks and the basic equipment. … We’ll start out with a fresh start.”

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Stagecoach, or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Steamboat's Real Estate Transactions Median Price are up 25% from 2007

Median prices grow 25 percent
Dollar volume shows steep drop from last year
By Tom Ross (Contact)- Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sunday, July 6, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The median price of all types of real estate transactions in Routt County in May was up 25 percent in 2007 even as dollar volume fell dramatically from $205.5 million last year to $68.15 million this year.

May 2007 dollar volume established a record for any month in Steamboat Springs history. The total was inflated by large transactions such as the $58 million sale of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort to Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

This year’s May dollar volume also was down compared to $88.6 million in May 2006.

The median transaction price in Routt County in May was $468,000 compared to $375,000 during the record-setting month of May 2007, an increase of 25 percent, said Bruce Carta of Land Title Guarantee Company.

Average and median prices are climbing across all of the different categories of real estate, from building lots to condominiums, David Baldinger Jr. said. He is the managing broker/owner of Steamboat Village Brokers. He anticipates the overall market will return to 2006 dollar volumes this year.

“Prices are still showing healthy increases in the first quarter of 2008 compared to 2007,” he said. “They are up 4 to 26 percent depending on the category and price band.”

Among 50 home sales in May, Routt County saw the sale of nine residential units priced greater than $1 million and 15 priced between $300,000 and $500,000.

Baldinger said slowing volume combined with an increase in inventory this summer has improved conditions for buyers from a year ago, when certain kinds of real estate were in tight supply and there was competition for those properties. Buyers have more choices this summer than they did a year ago, he said.

Successful sellers this summer are apt to be those who base asking prices on actual comparative sales, he added.

May sales in downtown Steamboat Springs and at the ski mountain were remarkably close in terms of average transaction price — $1.01 million for the former and $1.064 million for the latter, according to Carta. Downtown saw 11 transactions, and there were 29 at the mountain.

Average prices in Hayden were more modest, averaging almost $169,000, but the unit volume of 11 transactions shows rising interest in that growing community. Year to date, Hayden has seen 111 transactions for an aggregate value of $12.55 million.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Yampa Valley Regional Airport Gets Funding

YVRA to get full project funding
Bush extends FAA bill, taxiway repairs will go ahead this summer
By Blythe Terrell - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Yampa Valley Regional Air­port will get the federal funding it needs for summer projects, Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said.

President Bush approved a three-month extension of the Federal Aviatio n Administration funding bill Monday. The OK runs through the end of September.

“The three-month extension will allow the FAA to distribute the remaining AIP funds that airports are slated to receive during the current fiscal year,” an American Association of Airport Executives news release stated. The AIP is the Airport Improvement Program.

YVRA in Hayden is slated to get some of those funds for a taxiway rehabilitation project. The total cost will be about $3.5 million, Ruppel said, and the grant requires a local match of 5 percent. The Colorado Dep­artment of Transportation is covering half of that.

Airports nationwide had been waiting for FAA reauthorization for months. Because of the funding uncertainty, YVRA had to create a contingency plan. Had the funding not gone through, the projects would have received only 75 percent of the requested money.

“Basically, what it means to us is that the full project will be able to go ahead this year,” Ruppel said of the taxiway repairs. “We had structured the project so we could do 75 percent of it based on the funding that was approved.”

The airport can plan for 100 percent now, he said.

“It’s about a 50-day project,” Ruppel said. “We’ve already got the bids in, and we’re preparing to award the contract. … We’re on track, and we hope to start in August so we’ll be able to have it completed before the weather gets too cold to do asphalt.”

YVRA also plans to buy another fire truck. YVRA still is ironing out the purchase and negotiating with bidders. Ruppel said that deal should go through in the next few weeks.

Beyond that, he said, the airport is bustling.

“Summer is a pretty busy time for us, with correcting all the damage that happens during the winter with weather and erosion,” Ruppel said. “It’s a pretty big job to get things to the standard they should be. … Plus, my staff is reduced by about three-fourths, so we’re a little bit short on people. But the airport’s looking good.”

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ken Brenner - Impacts of Oil & Gas on Steamboat Springs

Ken Brenner: Are we prepared?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The recent articles in the June 23 Today and June 29 Pilot alerting us to a significant increase in the level of interest in Routt County from oil and gas companies hopefully caught your attention. They caught mine. Are we prepared to find the right balance of energy production and good paying jobs with the many direct and indirect impacts to our region?

A visit to the areas around Rifle and Parachute along I-70 illustrate how significant the impacts of gas development on the land, air and water can be. Further examination of the impacts on roads, water and waste water treatment, hospitals, human services, police and emergency services, and to the public school systems makes me wonder whether we can really tackle the effects of gas and oil development.

Garfield County is supposed to add 50,000 new residents in the next 12 years, nearly doubling its population. Are we prepared?

Industry speculators will be the first to arrive, and begin taking steps to add Routt County to the list of places where oil and natural gas production is occurring. Eventually, the companies, with names such as Williams and Encana will buy them out and begin drilling. Routt County will continue its long history of providing energy for the United States, which currently includes coal production and electricity generation from the Hayden Station.

In the face of this pressure, it is important to remember that we also have a proud agricultural heritage, abundant wildlife, diverse recreation and tourism, and a second home/retirement community. We need to be concerned that, if we’re not vigilant in protecting these other values, Routt County could experience growth in the future like Garfield County is now.

There was a rulemaking process going on in Denver last week to try to address the impacts of drilling for natural gas and oil in Colorado. The amount of drilling in Western Colorado is at record levels and there have been significant increases in technology. The update is appropriate because it has been more than decade since the rules were last revised.

I support rule changes that will balance energy production with responsible practices and use of new technology that protect air and water quality, critical wildlife habitat and northwest Colorado’s unique landscape. I believe that we can produce energy and ensure for the future the public health and environment, long after the industry is gone.

We do have the ability to ask our elected officials to do everything necessary to prepare us for the arrival of oil and gas drilling in the Yampa Valley, and for the future after the oil and gas industry leaves. That means state and local officials need to coordinate their efforts to protect both the people who live here and the environment they rely on to make a living.

Ken Brenner

Steamboat Springs

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Emerald Mountain Development Proposed

Emerald development proposed
City, county scrutinize amendments to urban growth boundary
By Tom Ross (Contact) - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Tuesday, July 1, 2008?
5 seek amendments to urban growth boundary
Four of the five propose to create affordable housing units.

— Butch Dougherty, represented by Dan Wilson, proposes one dwelling on a half-acre lot

— Steamboat 700, represented by Patten Associates, seeks 190 dwelling units on 185 acres

— 360 Village/Wilton Development, represented by TST Inc. Chris Erickson, proposes 110 to 125 dwelling units on 240 acres

— Alex Koftinow, represented by Vicky Hanna, proposes 26 dwelling units on 40 acres along the Yampa River near Tree Haus

— Lyman Orton, represented by Towny Anderson, proposes 300 to 475 dwelling units on 464 acres

Urban Growth Boundary hearing dates
— 5 p.m. July 10, Centennial Hall: Steamboat Springs Planning Commission expected to make recommendations on all five requests

— 5 p.m. July 17, Commissioners’ hearing room at the Routt County Courthouse Annex: Regional Planning Commission expected to make recommendation on all five

— 5 p.m. Aug. 12, Centennial Hall: City Council and County Commissioners in joint meeting expected to make final decisions on five requests to amend the urban growth boundary

Note: The urban growth boundary process does not amount to final approval of any developments. Property owners would still face separate annexation and development permit hearings.

Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs resident Lyman Orton envisions creating a neighborhood of as many as 475 homes and a Nordic ski lodge on 464 acres just outside the current city limits on the north side of Emerald Mountain.

Orton has not submitted a development application to local government. However, he is among five individuals and development entities seeking this summer to have acreage added to Steamboat’s urban growth boundary. Adding land to the urban growth boundary is a precursor to annexation.

Orton’s advancing age and his passion for open space and recreation are among the factors that have led him to make his proposal, he wrote in a letter to the city and county. Orton, soon to turn 67, owns 1,200 contiguous acres on the flank of Emerald Mountain. The mountain looms over the south side of downtown Steamboat Springs and Howelsen Hill.

“The time has come for me to determine the ultimate destiny of the land under my stewardship on Emerald Mountain,” he wrote. “When I die, my estate will sell the 1,200 acres to help pay taxes. The way the property is configured, and being outside the current urban growth boundary, the sale will likely be to a high-end private-community developer, as that will bring the most money. But I do not think Steamboat Springs and Routt County need another private community.”

Instead, Orton is proposing Emerald Mountain neighborhood. It would include mixed-income clustered housing units, with a percentage exceeding city requirements dedicated to affordable housing units. Tentatively, there would be townhomes, single-family homes and multi-family rental housing, Orton proposed.

City Planner Jason Peasley said in order have their properties added to the urban growth boundary, each of the five owners and their representatives would have to convince the City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners that they constitute a desirable amendment to the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan.

“They’ll have to demonstrate positive and measurable public benefit to the community commensurate with the cost to serve the (new) community” or development, Peasley said.

The public benefit can be provided in three different areas: open lands, cultural resources and affordable housing.

“Lyman wouldn’t be doing this if he wasn’t passionate about these two resident-centric issues, open space/recreation and affordable housing,” said Towny Anderson, his representative. “Just as the Fairview neighborhood nearby has provided affordable housing for a recent generation, Emerald Mountain neighborhood could do the same for the next generation.”

Anderson confirmed that Orton has proposed to require that 30 percent of the housing be affordable at 90 percent of the area median income.

“He’s put his commitments on paper,” Anderson said. “This is what he’s committed to do, because he’s in a position to do that.”

Anderson added that it is not Orton’s intent to develop any housing himself, but to make the opportunity available to nonprofit and commercial development entities.

Orton’s proposal also envisions creating a public recreation facility, Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park, with a network of trails for nonmotorized recreation in all seasons. A Nordic lodge would be built to serve park users year-round, and a real estate transfer assessment would assist in the creation of the park.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat's Affordable Housing Needs Flexibilitly

Our View: Housing flexibility needed
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008 - Steamboat Pilot & Today
Bryna Larsen, publisher
Brent Boyer, editor
Mike Lawrence, city editor
Tom Ross, reporter
Eric Morris, community representative
Paul Draper, community representative

Steamboat Springs — As the city’s landmark affordable housing policies are enacted in new development projects, the Steamboat Springs City Council must be prepared to adapt those policies to existing market conditions. Without adaptation, the policies have little chance of achieving their desired and worthwhile result: the creation of attainable housing for our work force.

When the previous City Council adopted the city’s inclusionary zoning and linkage ordinance just more than a year ago, the goal, put simply, was to deliver the right housing product at the right price and right time for our work force.

But the housing market is changing. Numbers that seemed to work on paper in June 2007 might not work in the reality of June 2008. And for developers, who rarely can afford to have unoccupied units sitting on the market, timeliness is everything.

A case in point is the struggling sales at First Tracks, the affordable housing development associated with the Wildhorse Meadows and One Steamboat Place projects.

First Tracks’ requirements mandate that the average buyer of an affordable unit make 100 percent of the Area Median Income. Meeting that requirement means having a mix of buyers in the 80 percent to 120 percent range.

But those who have showed the most interest in First Tracks — and qualified to be purchasers — make an average of less than 80 percent of AMI.

“We’ve done everything we could,” said Brent Pearson, vice president of Resort Ventures West. “It’s just been difficult to get people to buy into (First Tracks) based on the facts of the deed restrictions.”

Developers from Resort Ventures West have proposed several requirement changes to help sell the units, including allowing businesses to purchase the units for their employees, instituting an occupancy-based deed restriction, and allowing appraisal-based deed restrictions, which would give buyers the chance to realize greater growth in equity once the property is vested.

Steamboat Springs Community Housing Coordinator Nancy Engelken has suggested similar adjustments, as well as changing developer requirements from being based on the number of units to total square footage.

The conversations and ideas are encouraging. They show a creativity that will be particularly important as larger development projects come on line, notably Steamboat 700. Flexibly meeting the demands of a changing housing market will benefit sellers and buyers of local affordable housing — and ultimately benefit the entire community.

Not to be forgotten is the ongoing market demand analysis sponsored by the city, Steamboat 700, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and a number of local businesses and developers. The study, with results expected in August, aims to paint a clear picture of the actual housing needs of the community based on direct feedback from employers and employees.

As First Tracks is proving, and as we believe the market demand analysis will show, the city’s housing ordinances already are in need of tweaking.

Armed with information from the market demand analysis and the experience of developments such as First Tracks, the City Council should find itself in a position to make needed, appropriate changes to its affordable housing policies to keep a thriving work force in the Yampa Valley.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat Springs - Crazy Horse Ranch

Crazy Horse Ranch feels like home
By Tom Ross (Contact) - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sunday, June 29, 2008

The barn at Crazy Horse Ranch includes functional livestock stalls as well as one of the most inviting party hangouts in the valley. Photo by Tom Ross

Several nesting pairs of sandhill cranes occupy the wetlands on the ranch. Photo by Tom Ross
Steamboat Springs — The main residence at Crazy Horse Ranch houses some special touches that would be difficult to find anywhere else in the valley.

For starters, the master bath has a digitally controlled, Japanese-style toilet and a warming drawer for bath towels. Right around the corner is a heated closet expressly built to dry ski clothes and post-hot tub robes.

In spite of those custom touches and a notable chef’s kitchen and great room, it may be the barn at Crazy Horse Ranch that steals the show. It stakes a claim to agricultural legitimacy with three horse stalls and a critical care bay for difficult births. There is a covered paddock where the full-sized John Deere resides. There’s also room for a couple of burly ATVs and a canoe.

However, this barn is easily one of the most inviting party hangouts in Steamboat Springs.

The overstuffed leather chairs on the concrete floor contribute to the setting. The stainless steel kitchen on wheels that allows outdoor barbecues in summer and indoor chili suppers in winter is something to behold. The thundering karaoke machine flanked by amplified guitars makes an even louder statement. And it’s the covered Old World bar that really sets this barn apart.

Darlinda Baldinger of Steamboat Village Brokers has Crazy Horse Ranch listed for $9.45 million. The property has drawn multiple showings this spring and summer. The price includes 70.1 acres of meadows and wetlands, three ponds stocked with trout and a good stretch of Yampa River frontage. In all, there is 11,529 square feet of living space designed to host extended families in bedrooms and living quarters that have been kept to a human scale.

“It is, I think, the most special place in Steamboat,” Baldinger said. “It’s the most tastefully designed home I’ve been in. This is a home — it’s lived in.”

The listing broker has an emotional connection to Crazy Horse — she’s become close friends with the owners, who are moving to be closer to a grandchild.

The home was built in 1998 and remodeled in 2007. The hickory cabinets and wide plank flooring throughout set a golden tone for the home.

Situated just five minutes from the Steamboat Ski Area, the home offers views across hay meadows that are uninterrupted for miles. From the formal dining room, the views are north to Crystal Peak. And from the free-standing master bathtub, the views out bay windows to Thorpe and Blacktail mountains are private enough that window blinds are an afterthought.

Crazy Horse was placed on the market in February, Baldinger said, and was shown three or four times right away. It has been shown 15 times this summer — nine times to Realtors looking ahead to the arrival of clients and six times to prospective buyers.

“The typical showing has been to people who looked in Vail for two days and decided to come over here,” she said.

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

This is a unique property! If you are considering moving to Steamboat and 10 million is in your price range, let me show you Crazy Horse! Call me today 970.846.1086 - Michelle

North Routt New Subdivision - Willow Point

Willow Point releases five-acre lots
Fifteen Elk River Valley plots priced lower than $500,000
By Tom Ross (Contact)- Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sunday, June 29, 2008

The five-acre home lots at Willow Point represent a consolidation and replat of an old subdivision dating to the early 1970s. (Courtsey)
Steamboat Springs — A team of six local Realtors and three developers have worked together to bring a rare commodity to market this summer — 15 five-acre lots in the upper Elk River Valley, most of them priced lower than $500,000.

Willow Point subdivision, just beyond Clark on Routt County Road 129, represents the consolidation of about 75 smaller lots that were first approved in the early 1970s, developer Lee Emery said.

Emery, a retired homebuilder, has teamed with Wayne Adamo of Fair & Square Construction and Jim Rowe to develop the subdivisions. Mike and Ronna Autrey, Jon Wade and Kelda Combs Wall, all of Colorado Group Realty, with Dennis O’Connor of Lincoln Avenue Realty and Christy Belton of Steamboat Real Estate, all share the listing.

The original lots were among more than 1,700 in the original eight filings of the Steamboat Lakes development filed in 1971 and 1972.

Sales did not materialize im­­­mediately, and, throughout time, the lots became virtually unbuildable.

“Years ago, the county said all of the little lots couldn’t be used unless they were consolidated into five-acre parcels, which meet the county requirement for installation of a septic system,” Emery said.

The lots ranged in size from 0.1 to 0.5 acres, with the smallest originally planned for townhomes.

Emery became involved in consolidating lots in the vicinity of Steamboat Lake in 1995 after Routt County opened the door wide by passing a resolution expressing its support for consolidation.

Willow Point is much closer to Clark than it is to Steamboat Lake. The 15 home sites of five acres or more are arrayed around a southeast-facing hillside accessed by the first left turn off Routt County Road 129 beyond Clark, onto Olive Street. Subdivision roads climb 400 vertical feet from the edge of open meadows to dense aspen forests that afford glimpses of snowy peaks in the Sawtooths and Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

“The roads have been completed, and the lots are ready for building,” Emery said.

Big views

Mike Autrey said Willow Point enjoys a distinctly different climate from Steamboat Lake.

“As you climb past Willow Point, you’re looking at one more month of winter pretty fast,” he said.

O’Connor thinks the real estate market is ready to pay closer attention to the Clark and Steamboat Lake areas.

“In my opinion, the general market seems to be making a comeback from the last nine months based on activity and interest,” he said. “North Routt has been undervalued for some time due to factors that include the wildfires and the Rainbow Family gathering in 2006. But those big views at Willow Point are something you don’t have in the South Valley.”

Willow Point’s location less than a mile from Clark offers buyers the convenience of having an above-average convenience store, post office and restaurant close to home.

Autrey agreed, saying the Clark General Store, Tuffy’s Bar & Grill and the North Routt Community Charter School all add to the sense of community in the rural neighborhood.

Combs Wall said the fact that Willow Point lot owners will automatically become members of the existing Willow Creek Pass Homeowners Association removes concerns about road maintenance.

All of the lots in Willow Point will require septic systems. One lot already has a water well, some lots will be able to share a spring and some lots still need a well. O’Connor observed that the presence of springs on the land bodes well.

Prices range from $199,000 to $565,000 based on views and trees, Emery said.

“Every single lot is unique in terms of its attributes,” Combs Wall said. “Wayne Adamo and his partners planned it just right.”

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Oil Exploration Near Steamboat Springs

Looking to the West
New York firm pumps $100M into Comet Ridge for oil exploration
By Tom Ross (Contact) - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sunday, June 29, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The Australian oil exploration company hoping to find 200 million barrels of oil in underground shale beds between Steamboat Springs and Hayden has hit a gusher of cash.

Comet Ridge Managing Director Andy Lydyard announced June 19 that Pine Brook Road Partners, LLC, a New York private equity firm, will infuse Comet’s operations in the American West with up to $100 million to further exploration and development. Comet’s operations include drilling already under way in the Tow Creek anticline just west of Milner.

“The initial focus will be on the Florence (Colo.) and Grays Harbor (Wash.) projects,” Lydyard said, but “another well is planned for Tow Creek. Further drilling at Florence and Tow Creek is likely later in the year, once we digest the results of the initial drilling.”

The news comes against the backdrop of record prices for crude oil further encouraging energy exploration companies to push into wildcat — remote and essentially unproven — basins like West Routt County. The price of crude increased to $142 a barrel Friday.

The new capital for Comet Ridge is indicative of heightening interest in the pool of oil beneath the surface in West Routt.

Routt County Assessor Mike Kerrigan said June 20 that his office plays host to more than one “land man” daily. Land men typically are independent agents working on behalf of energy companies to tie up leases on subsurface mineral rights.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reported June 23 that a San Antonio limited liability company, NRC Group, had paid $30.5 million for mineral rights beneath 12 parcels of land south of Milner — about 10 miles west of Steamboat Springs — and south of U.S. Highway 40.

Strong signs

Energy exploration companies often lease mineral rights, and often the lease is with government entities. But NRC Group bought the rights in Routt County outright.

NRC Group has not indicated it is looking for oil. But the mineral deed conveys title and interest in all minerals on the parcels involved. That includes oil, gas, coal, gravel and even sand. There is one notable exception, which involves two coal seams leased in late 2006 by Twentymile Coal Company, a division of Peabody Energy.

Excepted from the deed is all coal and coal-bed methane located in the Upper and Lower Wolf Creek Seams. Twentymile retains the rights to access the seams to reach, process and transport coal.

The deed also shows that all of the rights acquired by NRC Group are privately held and not under government-owned land. They are not contiguous and scattered from Colorado Highway 131 in the southeast to Fish Creek Canyon — a different Fish Creek from the stream northeast of Steamboat — on the west.

A strong sign that oil wells in Routt County could yield handsome returns can be found in the Forest Oil well on Wolf Mountain Ranch, which consistently has produced between 5,000 and 7,000 barrels of oil a month since May 2005.

One veteran land man said that’s enough production to spark broader interest in West Routt.

“That is a significant production amount for an un-established production area like this,” Bill Roberts said.

Roberts worked as a land man based on Colorado’s Front Range throughout the 1970s and ’80s.

Growing interest
Routt County isn’t alone among its neighbors in terms of seeing growing interest in its oil reserves. Just 22 miles east as the eagle flies and 39 miles by car, Houston-based EOG Resources is drilling exploratory wells in Jackson County.

A number of the drilling sites are visible from Colorado Highway 14 south of the crossroads of Hebron.

Asked if the wells were seeking natural gas or coal bed methane, an energy worker entering the Buffalo Ditch site on Jackson County Road 34 responded “nope.”

Asked if the wells were meant to find oil, he answered, “We hope.”

Jackson County Admin­istrator Kent Crowder said EOG has been active in the area drilling field development and monitoring wells to determine what they may have.

“Anything they drill, they want to take care that it will produce well,” he said.

EOG Chairman and CEO Mark Papa wrote in his company’s 2007 annual report that the company has gained a competitive advantage with its increasing knowledge of when to apply horizontal drilling techniques.

“In Northwest Colorado, we have assembled 100,000 net acres in the North Park Basin, another promising horizontal crude oil play. EOG has tested one horizontal well and plans to drill an additional seven in 2008,” he said.

EOG, which has an office in Denver, has international operations and most of its efforts are directed at natural gas production.

Tow Creek setback
The decision by Pine Brook Road Partners to invest $100 million in operations in the American West by Comet Ridge could help oil drilling get back on track along the Tow Creek Anticline in West Routt.

Comet Ridge reported in September 2007 that the second attempt to establish production on the southeastern part of the anticline was frustrated by repeated problems with the drilling rig. There was a period of time during which the drill-string was left hanging in the open hole while repairs were undertaken, but it eventually became irretrievably stuck and Comet Ridge released the string and left the site.

Pine Brook’s infusion of capital will allow Comet Ridge to spread out the risk of further drilling, the company said.

Lydyard said Pine Brook Road’s involvement will actually create a new company, Comet Ridge Resources, to hold the American operations. Pine Brook Road will own a majority 56.25 percent share in CRR and could increase its stake to 80 percent by investing an additional $19 million.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat Springs - Rental Unit Licensing

A call for licensure
Gerber: Licenses would protect landlords and tenants
By Zach Fridell - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, June 28, 2008

Steamboat Springs — Jeff Gerber, the owner of the property where longtime Steamboat Springs resident David Engle died during a house fire June 15, said Friday that a rental licensing program for the city could be one way to ensure incidents such as Engle’s death do not happen again and would protect landlords from potentially expensive lawsuits.

“I think that if our town is looking for safeguards to be put in place to assist landlords and tenants with safe units, a licensing program would be helpful,” he said.

Gerber said a program similar to one used in Boulder would allow the city to inspect properties and give assurances: to tenants that their rental unit is safe, and to landlords that all requirements have been met.

“A licensing program would ensure that a problem like this won’t happen again, given that we inspected the property when we purchased it and there was a smoke detector,” he said. “A previous owner put a smoke detector there, but there was not one during the incident.”

A post-fire inspection by Fire Marshal Jay Muhme showed no smoke detectors in the house. Engle died from smoke inhalation when he fell asleep while cooking, resulting in a grease fire and small blaze.

The review process currently used in Steamboat is based around building permits, issued either when the unit is built or when part of a unit is remodeled as a secondary unit for rentals. It also entails a reassessment by Routt County assessors and will bring a higher property tax — but the price of permits and fees may be much lower than the liability homeowners could face if the housing is not up to code.

Gerber and his wife, Trigg, have owned the property at 243 Seventh St. since late 2007. The converted-garage apartment had been rented out for about 20 years. City officials urged all owners of secondary units to register when they revised city codes in 2001, but Gerber previously said he thought the unit was grandfathered in and didn’t require review.

An existing secondary unit would require a $50 fee and a building review, while a new unit would go through a series of steps to become legal.

In the absence of a rental license, Steamboat landlords are responsible for voluntary compliance.

Safety first
According to local Realtor Coleman Cook, converting his garage at 52 Spruce St. into a legal rental unit was straightforward, if expensive.

Cook renovated the upper floor of a two-story garage in 2005 to add a 550-square-foot living area, which includes one bedroom, one bath, a living area and kitchen.

“The process was very easy, and it’s been great to have,” he said. “My reasons were twofold. First, to provide a need to the city, and second, to have a nice rental income on the side.”

In order to legally build a secondary unit, homeowners must go through a process of approvals by state and county officials, beginning at the Routt County Regional Building Department.

For the Gerbers’ apartment, Dunham estimated the building permit approval process would cost $2,209, if completed this year.

That includes $1,016 of city and county tax that is a pre-payment on sales tax of locally purchased construction materials. That tax also is audited after construction is complete and homeowners may be entitled to a refund of unspent taxes from the city.

The addition of a secondary unit also will increase the assessed price of the property, increasing market value and taxes due.

Cook said his taxes were increased, but based on the average annual increases — regardless of a secondary unit — it was not a noticeable amount.

For Engle’s apartment, County Assessor Mike Kerrigan estimated the additional unit would increase the market value of the property from the current assessment of $433,080 to $487,420.

Kerrigan said the market values of properties with secondary units are adjusted whenever building permits are granted, the property is sold or if an assessor notices the property while visiting another house in the neighborhood.

“I’m training my appraisers to, when they’re looking at one property, look at two more nearby,” he said. Once the secondary unit is designated as an additional housing unit, the value is added to the house. Homeowners can appeal the adjustment if they think it is inappropriate.

“The increased value is not enough to change how the property can function as affordable housing,” Kerrigan said.

Once the assessed value of the property is raised, that also can raise the taxes. In the example of Engle’s apartment, Routt County Treasurer Jeanne Whiddon said the new assessed value would raise the tax for the landlords by $191 for the 2007-08 year, an increase of 12.5 percent.

Gerber said this incident could be a chance to prevent similar situations in the future.

“I hope that now that this question of rental units in this town has been brought to the forefront, I hope this gives all landlords and tenants a chance to look at their respective situations and see if there is anything that needs to be done to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe.”

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Steamboat Highlands Development Proposal on Burgess Creek Road

Developer’s concept a tall order
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Steamboat Springs — A proposed development at Burgess Creek Road and Storm Meadows Drive faced skepticism from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and neighbors of the property Thursday.

The 2-acre, 427,039-square-foot Steamboat Highlands development would include 195 resort lodging residential units, about 17,000 square feet of commercial space and an underground parking structure. The Planning Commission reviewed the project’s pre-application at Centennial Hall and raised strong objections to its proposed scope, requested variances and relation to the surrounding neighborhood.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today reported in April that the owner of the development is Gamir/Reilly Development, a real estate development and management company that has built hotels and condominium projects in Mexico. Jeff and Kristi Brown of Steamboat Springs sold the site in November 2007 for $11.5 million to Ski Country, LLC, based out of Nevada.

Brian Bavosi, project manager for Vertical Arts in Steamboat Springs, presented plans that show a portion of Steamboat Highlands would stand about 142 feet tall, which is 79 feet over the current height allowance.

Burgess Creek runs along the western portion of the property. Proposed plans involve daylighting and reconstructing the creek to include waterfalls, pools, vegetation and a raised walkway for pedestrians and cyclists. Developers also proposed a pedestrian overpass on Burgess Creek Road that would connect existing open space trails to the property.

Developers have requested two variances for Steamboat Highlands: the height increase and a setback variance allowing the building to be set back 12 feet from the high-water mark of Burgess Creek, rather than the required 50 feet.

Planning commissioners indicated disapproval of the height proposal for the buildings and were hesitant to allow the reduced setback.

“It’s just too massive and too tall,” Commissioner Sarah Fox said. She mentioned concerns about the potential for extensive shadowing on Burgess Creek Road that could result in safety issues in the winter when the road is covered in snow or ice.

Commissioner Cedar Beau­regard worried that such tall buildings at the base area would create a “privacy fence” and prevent others from enjoying the view, possibly resulting in decreased property values outside of the base area.

In response to the Burgess Creek setback, Commissioner Rich Levy felt the building would create a canyon effect and encroach upon the creek.

To compensate for the requested variances, Bavosi highlighted various elements of the development that would increase public benefit.

He proposed purchasing a plot of land between Highway 40 and Walton Creek Pond west of Weiss Drive to be donated to the city and used to construct 76 affordable housing units.

Developers also said Steam­boat Highlands will contribute to the vibrancy of the base area through a mix of occupied residential units and condo-hotel units. Bavosi added that they are considering pursuing LEED certification through energy efficiency and sustainable design.

Lastly, he cited planned im­­provements to Burgess Creek, expansion of the existing pedestrian trail system and the overpass as public benefits.

Planning commissioners did not agree that the public benefits merited the variances requested.

The planning commissioners agreed that the proposed plans were out of context compared to the surrounding area. Commissioner Dick Curtis said “It’s the perfect area for density but not that kind,” adding that the proposed development would increase traffic beyond a level that Burgess Creek Road could safely handle.

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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Affordable Housing Push from Other County Experts

Outsiders urge housing push
By Blythe Terrell - Reporter Steamboat Pilot & Today
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Friday’s affordable housing forum stretched on an extra hour, until the group was bumped out of the room to make way for a wedding party.

Perhaps it was the topic: “We’re not Alone: Learning from Other Communities.” Perhaps it was because each of the six presenters had a compelling story to share.

One message was universal: Act immediately on affordable housing.

Representatives of housing agencies from Jackson, Wyo.; Aspen and Pitkin County; Summit County; Rio Blanco County and Garfield County spoke at the forum. Another speaker represented the Mountain Regional Housing Corporation, which covers several counties.

They offered advice, predictions and tales of success and failure at the fourth affordable housing forum series event put on by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Economic Development Council at Rex’s American Grill & Bar.

Tom McCabe, executive director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, said his community has been dealing with the issue for decades. In his 33 months on the job, he’s seen the average home price increase from $3.2 million to more than $5.4 million.

“If the community believes you have a need for affordable housing, get started now,” McCabe said. “It’s only going to get more expensive.”

The ingredients of a successful local campaign are community support, political support and dedicated funding, he said. Although his agency has those things, along with 2,800 deed-restricted units, he said it would never catch up with housing needs.

“Years ago, I was foolish enough to think that we would run out of billionaires. … They’re going to build up every neighborhood you can think of,” he said.

Aspen is on the verge of becoming two neighborhoods: the super wealthy and the work force housing. McCabe said the middle class — and the workers who provide vital services — will be erased.

“If you have a dirty toilet, you might be able to live with that,” he said. “If you have a heart attack and you’re lying there, dialing 911, and there’s no doctor, or even no operator and no ambulance driver, you have a community that’s out of whack. … Our community is out of whack. The reason I put this onto the table is to tell you what’s coming.”

Anne Hayden leads the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust in Wyoming. The private non-profit group has worked with developers and the Teton County housing agency to add lower-cost, deed-restricted homes.

The median home price in the area has gone from about $200,000 in 1992 to $1.95 million now and is rising steadily, Hayden said. The issue has gotten so wild that government officials put a moratorium on some types of development, she said.

“Things in Jackson have reached a tipping point,” Hayden said. “Don’t get there. That would be my advice.”

Several of the speakers stressed the need for public-private partnerships, and Hayden encouraged Steamboat Springs officials to bring developers to the table. Her organization is funded almost entirely by private donations.

As they told their stories and pushed Steamboat officials to move quickly, the speakers noted one advantage here: space.

“I drove into Steamboat, looked at that nice, wide median and said, ‘I could build affordable housing on that median,’” McCabe joked.

But he got serious, speaking with urgency.

“We have the money; we just don’t have the dirt,” McCabe said. “You have dirt. Go capture it, and find the money.”

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