SmartWool moves in

Airport new home for company


— The office space SmartWool is moving into today bears little resemblance to the Steamboat Springs Airport terminal it was three months ago.

Cubicles now stand where check-in counters once were, offices have replaced the open-space seating area and large glass windows have been installed where garage doors once opened and closed to bring in baggage.

"Other than the main roof and exterior walls, everything is new," said Chip Coe, SmartWool's chief operating officer.

After a few hundred thousand dollars and two months of renovations, SmartWool will start the move into the airport terminal today.

SmartWool, a nationally known marketer for Merino wool socks, is headquartered in Steamboat Springs, with manufacturing plants and shipping warehouses scattered throughout the United States. The renovated airport terminal will hold 32 of its employees.

On Sept. 1, the company began leasing the building from the city, but it actually hired Snow Country Construction to remodel the building in early July.

Steamboat Springs Airport Manager Matt Grow said there were some difficulties in turning an airport with large open areas into office space. Removing baggage conveyors, taking out counters and working around old security systems put some kinks into the renovations.

Some of the airport's original features such as the high, wooded ceilings and stone fireplace remain, but other items have been sold, donated or put into storage.

Grow said part of the terminal seats will be seen this winter downstairs at Ski Haus, and Yampa Valley Regional Airport took out the baggage claim carousel and is holding it in storage.

Other items were also reused. The former restaurant area is being used as the office's kitchen area, and the sliding glass doors that were used at the passenger security checkpoint are now part of the product display room.

In a symbiotic relationship, the terminal provided SmartWool with 12,000 feet of hard-to-find office space, and the city will get $67,700 in revenue the first year from the formerly unused terminal. The net revenue from the leasing agreement will increase to $160,500 by the 10th year of the lease.

"It is very difficult to find 10,000 to 12,000 square feet in any kind of configuration that would work for our company," Coe said.

The airport terminal has sat unused since 1996, when Continental Airlines terminated service to the airport shortly after the completion of the terminal. The city has been subsidizing the airport to the tune of $100,000 a year.

Without the funds to remodel the airport, the city negotiated with SmartWool to do the renovations and subtract those cost from the rent over a seven-year period. The city set a $210,000 cap on improvements for the 12,000 square feet of office space leased and a $40,000 cap for the city's space that supports the general aviation airport.

City offices used for managing the airport, its fuel operations and air patrol take up about 4,000 square feet of the terminal. Part of the SmartWool renovations included adding a separate entrance and restroom facilities to the city's airport area.


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