Bear Claw quadrupling in size

Ski area condo complex will rival the Grand

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— Steamboat Springs developer and property manager Joe Brennan says he plans to break ground this fall on an expansion that will make Bear Claw one of the largest resort properties at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

The Bear Claw III expansion could more than quadruple the number of condominium units in the existing project and add 375,539 square feet to the project. By comparison, the Steamboat Grand Hotel, nearing completion on the west side of Mount Werner Circle, encompasses 420,423 square feet.

Brennan, who has managed the existing 51 units at Bear Claw for 24 years, said he's looked forward to completing the project for a long time.

"I've been planning this for 15 years," Brennan said. "I have partners, but for practical purposes, I'm building it."

Bear Claw is situated near the top of two of the chairlifts at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. It is reached via Apres Ski Way and Ski Trail Lane.

Brennan estimates construction costs at between $70 million and $80 million. Pre-sale prices on some of the units range from more than $500,000 to more than $1 million. One of the penthouses is priced at more than $2 million.

Brennan says he has reservations on many of the penthouse units, and is withholding the smaller, least expensive units off the market at this time.

One of the keys to getting the project built, Brennan said, is that the development permit he obtained from the city of Steamboat Springs in 1985 doesn't bind him to specific floor plans or numbers of condominiums. Instead, he said, his approval simply limits him to 219,584 net salable square feet. The conditions of the permit allow him to adapt the condominium units to today's real estate market. As a result, many of the condos will have as many square feet as single-family homes.

"That's why it still works," Brennan said. "Our approval isn't for any floor plans, it's for the space."

Brennan said the terms of his original approval require him to go back to the city Planning Commission so it can review his exterior building materials. But he said completion of the first two phases of Bear Claw have given him full "vesting" in Bear Claw III, and he does not need to go back through the full permitting process. He said he and general contractor TCD are preparing to pull building permits.

"If we get out of the ground this fall, we'll continue building through the winter," Brennan said.

Steve Cavanagh of TCD said his firm is preparing plans for construction site management and a grading permit. That work would be followed by a foundation permit. Cavanagh said structural steel will be used in the construction of the building.

Bear Claw III will be built on the balance of a steep 7.4-acre site that drops 100 feet from its northern boundary to the southern boundary.

Brennan said that keeping the slope of the site in mind, architect Eric Smith has designed a building that will be excavated into the hill. It will total 11 stories at its south elevation and six stories at its northern elevation. The Bear Claw property adjoins the Headwall ski trail on its northern edge, offering guests ski-in, ski-out access.

Brennan acknowledged that Bear Claw III will create its biggest visual impact on views from the south.

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