Council to review Ski Time Square plan Tuesday
Developer: Economy will decide timeline
January 28, 2010
This rendering shows a vision of The Atira Group's redevelopment plans for Ski Time Square. The primarily residential plans include about 200 condominium units and more than 27,000 square feet of commercial space. City Council is slated to review the project Tuesday night in Centennial Hall.
Steamboat Springs — City officials have the difficult task Tuesday of reviewing a massive project in a key location that might not get built for years. And when it finally is built, the project would incorporate commercial tenants and residential demand that could be subject to a wildly uncertain market.
Say hello to the next round of deliberations about Ski Time Square.
The Steamboat Springs City Council again is scheduled to review the proposed development at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. The next review is Tuesday night in Centennial Hall. Representatives of The Atira Group will present a development plan for the project, which includes five buildings with about 200 total residential units — all condominiums — and more than 27,000 square feet of commercial space on the 4.6-acre site on Ski Time Square Drive.
Mark Mathews, Atira's vice president for development, asked City Council on Jan. 19 to table the development plan review. Council President Cari Hermacinski was absent that night, and Councilman Jon Quinn stepped down from the discussion because his company, Northwest Data Services, does business with Atira. Councilman Kenny Reisman might also step down from Ski Time Square discussions because he owns a condominium at the base area, near the proposed development. Council members agreed to table the review until Tuesday, except Councilman Jim Engelken, who voted against the Jan. 19 tabling because a quorum was present. Council also agreed to discuss Reisman's potential conflict of interest Tuesday.
The Ski Time Square development would be built in phases and reach a maximum height of 105 feet in some spots.
"It really ranges in height — the top of some buildings is as high as eight and nine stories," city Senior Planner Jonathan Spence said.
The nearby One Steamboat Place development tops out at 106 feet.
Atira's Mathews said it is too early to speculate about the types of commercial business in a redeveloped Ski Time Square.
"We'll be bringing in commercial experts to understand the correct tenant mix," Mathews said. "At this point, we're just responding to the amount of commercial that's in the city study."
A base area retail study cited in city planning documents states that total commercial space in the Ski Time Square area should be between 73,380 and 93,140 square feet. The planning documents state that approved and potential commercial space, including the proposed Ski Time Square development, would bring a total of 81,275 square feet of commercial space to the immediate area.
Atira's Ski Time Square proposal also includes more than $2 million worth of public amenities including Burgess Creek improvements and a public plaza.
"There is a significant amount of public space included in this project, especially around Burgess Creek," Spence said.
City Council would address Ski Time Square's architectural specifics in a future final development plan, pending approval of the development plan on the table Tuesday. A development plan is conceptual in nature and allows City Council to provide feedback on issues including overall mass and scale. Approval of a final development plan is needed before the project can be built.
Spence said he expects the period of time allowed between the two plans to be a primary topic of discussion Tuesday. Atira is requesting that period, known as vesting, to be 10 years — meaning it would have 10 years after development plan approval to submit a final development plan. A three-year vesting for that final plan, Spence said, would mean breaking ground at Ski Time Square could be 13 years down the road. City staff is recommending a six-year vesting period for the development plan.
Mathews said the 10-year request is "appropriate and prudent" for Ski Time Square.
"It's a phased project, and the city code doesn't necessarily respond appropriately to larger projects that are phased," Mathews said, adding that each phase could have a three-year cycle. The project's third and fourth phases include two buildings each. Phase 2 includes one building, and the first phase includes infrastructure work.
Spence noted that the Wildhorse Marketplace and Wildhorse Meadows developments each received a 10-year vesting period when they were approved. He characterized Atira's request as "more of a fallback plan."
"I don't think any period of vesting determines when a project begins to come out of the ground. That's more of a market decision," Spence said. "It's more a recognition of what's currently going on in the marketplace."
Atira submitted broad Ski Time Square concepts in September 2007 and its development plan in July. City Council also tabled the plan in October to allow Atira more time to plan for interim uses of the site and to resolve access and parking issues with the Ski Time Square Condominium Association. Members of the public have questioned whether the plan offers enough nightlife and vitality at the ski base.
Atira is redeveloping Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge on behalf of Cafritz Interests, which purchased the properties in 2007. The former Ski Time Square buildings were demolished in 2008 with the exception of The Tugboat Grill & Pub.
Mathews said a timeline for Ski Time Square development is up to the economy.
"That is all based on market conditions," Mathews said Wednesday. "We want to move faster through it than anybody else, but we're not going to build without the correct market conditions and economic environment."