Saturday, December 28, 2002
Steamboat Springs A historic middle Elk River Valley Ranch has recently been listed for sale. Make that two ranches.
"It's a Steamboat classic," Realtor Troy Brookshire said of the Pavilion Ranch. He ought to know -- his grandparents ranched on the Elk River. Brookshire is with Colorado Group Realty in Steamboat Springs.
The Pavilion Ranch includes just 110 acres, not enough for a working cow calf operation without public grazing leases. But the acreage encompasses some of the most beautiful hay meadows in the valley, historic buildings and a quarter-mile of river frontage.
Dave Epstein, a member of the ownership group that has listed the property for sale, said Pavilion Ranch includes the original Stender and Keller ranches. The Keller place was subsequently purchased by Dean Wheeler. The landmark Stender place became known as the Steamboat Llama Ranch in the early 1990s. It is recognizable to everyone who has ever enjoyed the scenic drive up the Elk River to Steamboat Lake because of its distinctive white buildings with red roofs. The ranch is listed for $3.25 million.
Epstein, who recently sold Chelsea's restaurant in Oak Creek, said he and his partners put the two small ranches together because they saw tremendous potential to conserve a portion of the valley.
"We got into it from a conservation standpoint," Epstein said. "We've taken two historic homesteads and put them together as one."
Brookshire agrees there is tremendous potential for a conservation-minded buyer because of the adjoining Warren Conservation Ranch. The buyer of Pavilion Ranch will always be able to look out across 800 acres of hay meadows and river bottom that are protected from development in perpetuity, Brookshire observed.
"I think it's valuable to be able to have a ranch and know your neighbor isn't going to be carving it up," Brookshire said.
"We feel like the best possibility for this place would be someone local who understands the value of the old buildings," and wants to keep the land in agriculture, Brookshire said.
While the property alone would not support a full-scale production agriculture operation, it would allow someone to raise a few purebred cattle. Or even more likely, establish a quarter horse operation in keeping with some of the historic use of the valley.
"There's a chance to put up a hundred-plus tons of hay," Brookshire said. "It could be cut by a young couple," that wants to remain in agriculture, but hasn't found a way to stay involved.
Likely buyers might be people looking for a retreat away from the pressures of the big city, Brookshire theorized.
"People are looking for the environment, these days, that will insulate them from Dallas, New York and San Francisco," he said.
Brookshire said he and the owners arrived at the listing price by weighing the close proximity of the ranch to Steamboat Springs, the conserved surroundings, the character of the original buildings (including a log barn) and the access to river frontage.
With some prime 35-acre parcels selling for $1 million, they believe Pavilion Ranch is well-priced.
The access to water was also a major consideration, Brookshire said. The Keller irrigation ditch, the major ditch between the ranch and Moonhill in the upper end of the valley, supplies abundant water through autumn. The ditch affords the owner the option of flooding the hayfields after they are cut to ensure a green appearance, Brookshire said. A creek flows through the former Keller/Wheeler Ranch as well, Brookshire said.
There are two established stock ponds on the old Keller/Wheeler Ranch, which could be improved for trout fishing.
"Whoever buys it, my advice would be to go ahead and enhance those ponds," Brookshire said.