Special committee discusses the future of the Iron Horse Inn
By Tom Ross (Contact)- Reporter Steamboat Pilot & TODAY
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The city has formed a committee of citizens, staff and City Council members to weigh the value of someday redeveloping the Iron Horse employee housing property.
The intent of redevelopment would be to maximize the available number of units.
The city purchased the Iron Horse Inn in late 2007 for $4.05 million, with the intent of managing the existing 52 units to provide employee housing.
Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said in August that the site has the potential to offer as many as 100 units with more vertical development.
There remains the possibility that the city would not redevelop but would continue offering the existing housing on site through its contract with a property management company.
The city’s community housing coordinator, Nancy Engelken, said members of the committee would study tentative proposals already submitted by private sector design/development teams. The plan is to make a recommendation to Steamboat Springs City Council by Oct. 21 about whether to take the next step in the process.
The committee will look at the track record of as many as nine groups that responded in August. Its community members include Rotarian and retired business executive Mike Forney as well as Wade Gebhardt of Wells Fargo Bank. City Council members Loui Antonucci and Meg Bentley will serve on the committee, as will Engelken, Planning Director Tom Leeson and Finance Director Lisa Rolan.
Ex-officio members of the committee will include Facilities Manager Bob Robichaud, Purchasing/Contracts and Risk Manager Anne Small and DuBord.
For the near term, the city has contracted with Resort Group/Mountain Resorts LLC to manage the property. That step is expected to reduce the city’s annual deficit on the Iron Horse Inn to less than $50,000.
The city will have access to 15 to 25 units for its employees at a rate of $30 a night. Mountain Resorts would rent out efficiency units to area employees on a long-term basis for $40 a night.
In preparation for turning the project over to Mountain Resorts for the winter, the city is remodeling nine of the existing units, primarily to modernize the kitchens and bathroom vanities.
Robichaud said those nine units had metal cabinets and cooktops that dated to the 1960s. The budget for repairs, including new heating/air conditioning units, patching walls and painting, is about $9,000 per unit for a total of $81,000.
“City Council specifically directed staff to minimize any renovation expenses,” Robichaud said.
Redevelopment of the Iron Horse, if it takes place, probably would not happen for a couple of years, he added.
If City Council decides to take another step toward redeveloping the property, Engelken said, she’s hopeful the committee would produce a short list of perhaps four development entities that would be asked to provide more detailed proposals.
She expects the committee to focus on companies that can demonstrate a track record in redeveloping affordable housing that targets households that earn 80 percent of the area media income, or AMI.
The AMI varies with the size of a household but currently is $51,475 for a household of three.
Engelken would like to have the request for proposals mailed to the short list no later than the third week in November.
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