Steamboat Springs Brent Romick is offering an increasingly rare commodity in Routt County small rural estates that provide central water and still manage to preserve the space between neighbors that defines country life.
Romick is the principal in Romick and Associates Inc., a real estate company, and the developer of Lynx Basin Estates, a new subdivision in the reviving Stagecoach neighborhood of south Routt County. Lynx Basin Estates is located 19.5 miles south of Steamboat at the base of the old Stagecoach Ski Area. Romick purchased 185 acres of land formerly in the Gittelson Trust and one of the largest parcels originally sold to the Woodmoor Corp., which never fully realized its plans to develop a small ski area at Stagecoach.
The land still held approvals for more than 1,200 dwelling units when he purchased it, but Romick said those numbers don't fit today's market nor did they fit his goals for the land.
"I immediately felt that's not acceptable for this property," Romick said. "The topography lends itself much better for detached single-family houses. We feel this was the most responsible way to develop the property."
He began by creating three "ranch" properties ranging in size from 35 acres to 40 acres.
Next, he conceived the plans for the 13 Lynx Basin Estates lots that would range in size from 2.9 acres to 5 acres.
All but two are on central water supplied by Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District.
The other two will share a well completed by Romick. The lots also have sewer service from the district. And all of the tap fees have already been paid, Romick said.
"Water and sewer is huge," Romick said. "It eliminates the guessing. Our development philosophy has always been to provide provable water."
Romick said he is glad he went before the Routt County Regional Planning Commission and successfully sought to have the three larger ranch parcels down-zoned to agricultural/forestry and the 13 estate lots down-zoned to mountain residential estates. Even though he would have liked to be a year further along with the project, he's also glad he waited for the completion of the new Stagecoach Master Plan to push his own project along.
"We waited for the master plan because that represented what we were going to see around us," Romick said. "I think that after a 25-year hiatus, Stagecoach has new viability in terms of development."
The site plan and the arrangement of lots in Lynx Basin was reconfigured numerous times, Romick said, to get the most efficient configuration. His engineering firm was Civil Design Consultants and he worked with D&D Surveying.
Romick said he was particularly concerned with striking a balance between affording scenic views for future home builders in Lynx Basin and keeping the structures themselves from protruding into views of ridgelines and skylines. His preferred way to absorb the lay of the land was from horseback, but he also resorted to helium balloons.
"We floated balloons over every lot," Romick said. He explained that by tethering balloons on the lot, it was possible to visualize how high the roof of a home would protrude into the views of neighbors simply by adjusting the length of the string.
To accomplish his goals, Romick created building envelopes that limit the location of homes within the platted lots. He said covenants on the subdivision won't limit the size of homes, but they will dictate quality buildings. The covenants allow homeowners to keep horses, but the construction of barns will have to match the residence, Romick said.
Romick set aside 11.64 acres of common area for subdivision owners as permanent open space. He said he could have easily created two more building sites on the land, but the environmental impact would have been too great; much of the land is riparian area along Morrison Creek and the hillside above it is used as a migration corridor by wildlife.
The developer envisions that Lynx Basin Estates will represent "entry level horse property" for the buying public. There's a need, Romick said, now that the valley floor south of Steamboat has grown so expensive, for lots that are relatively affordable for people who cannot afford to purchase $500,000 building sites and put million-dollar homes on them. Lynx Basin Estates should appeal to second-home builders and people trading down a little for their retirement home, Romick said.
Of the 13 original lots in Lynx Basin Estates, four have closed and a fifth went under contract last week. The lots range in price from $143,000 to $166,000. For any lot selling by April 30, Romick said he will deduct $10,000 from the asking price.