Steamboat Springs Jeff Spanel and his partner Art Kleinstein originally planned high-end townhomes on the 11-acre lot they own along Village Drive and Meadow Lane.
Then the market changed. And so did the plans.
Looking to build on the success they had with higher-end townhomes in Quail Run, Spanel and Kleinstein received approval a couple years ago from the city for a new townhome development called Sunray Meadows. The plan was for lower density and a higher product that would be more expensive than the condos they built at Walton Creek and Quail Run.
"We really thought that was the right way to go given the environment," Spanel said. "But from what we see in sales now, it is really moving in the entry level market."
Strong sales in the lower-end Quail Run and Walton Creek condos, which are owned by the parent company Winter Green Homes, changed the plans for Sunray Meadows to a 136-unit condominium development.
Based out of Avon, Spanel, who owns Winter Green Homes with Kleinstein, said they had no problem selling the condos in Walton Creek and Quail Run as owners moved up to higher end townhomes in Quail Run.
"We feel like the market is there for that entry level product," Spanel said.
Spanel is not alone in seeing a strong market for lower-end condos. Numbers from the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors showed that the largest jump in unit sales for the first three quarters of the year came from condos and townhomes in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range. The Multiple Listing Service shows that so far in 2002, 117 units have been sold compared to 88 in 2001 and 98 in 2000.
Real estate agents predicted the entry-level market would remain steady despite the slide in the economy in the last year. Sales were driven by a shift of money from the stock market to real estate and by low interest rates.
For high-end townhomes greater than $400,000, the number of units sold actually decreased by three from the year before to 47 units.
Spanel said specific details have not been ironed out, but he would like to see some units sell for less than $200,000 in Sunray Meadows.
"Not until we get through the approval process and see what we would be required to do will we start throwing numbers around," Spanel said. "But, we hope it will be similar to what we did at Quail Run."
The final development plan calls for eight buildings with eight units and eight buildings with nine units. City Planner Tom Leeson said the plans should come before the city planning commission and council in December and January. And Spanel said he would like construction to start this spring.
Spanel said like the Quail Run project, Sunray Meadows would have private garages to go with the condominiums; something he said is unique for units at that level.
Sunray is one of a few condominium projects that have gone through planning in the last year.
"We have had a couple of condo projects come through recently. There is not a whole lot of vacant land left and everything is slowing down due to the economy," Leeson said. "But there are projects moving out there."
Since April, one other condominium project has come through the planning commission and city council.
The Pines III was given finial approval for a 65-unit, multi-family residential development between the Pine Grove and Central Park shopping centers.
The Sundance Village project proposed two apartment buildings along with a mix of retail, offices and a hotel.
And, Trendwest Resorts proposed a plan for a 141-unit condominium project known as the Village at Steamboat.
The complex already holds two condo buildings with 64 units and a community building.
The proposed plan by Trendwest would add two remote spas and four, three-story buildings.