Ski Corp. plans makeover

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The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. has begun planning for a long-anticipated face-lift for the buildings at the base of the ski area, including the gondola building.

Ski area officials and their partners in Gondola Square will meet with Melick Associates, a Golden Design Firm, on Tuesday to look at revisions to preliminary architectural drawings.

"Gondola Square was built in the late 1970s and early 1980s," Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond said. "It has been stucco and beige ever since. Our strategy is to look at the buildings and create individual groupings through the use of color and materials."

Diamond announced the tentative plans for the ski area base in the context of $1.8 million in capital improvements the ski area intends to undertake in 2003-2004.

In addition to making preparations to modernize base area buildings, the ski area wants to upgrade the interior of on-mountain restaurants at Rendezvous Saddle.

"Rendezvous Saddle will be one of the highest-priced items," Diamond said. "Our goal is to start to have a similar impact to what we did at Thunderhead last year."

The cafeteria at Rendezvous will get new light fixtures and carpeting, as well as a new kitchen line.

Ski Corp. also expects its guests to benefit from projects on Mount Werner Circle and at the Gondola Transportation Center. They are being undertaken by the city of Steamboat Springs, with funding participation by the ski area and the Steamboat Grand Hotel.

The Grand committed $300,000 to the two projects as a condition of its original development permit. City Public Works director Jim Weber said the money would be split with a little more than $240,000 going to pedestrian and lane improvements on Mount Werner Circle. The balance will go toward improvements to the adjacent transit center. It will see the number of vehicle bays go from six to nine this fall, Weber said.

Diamond said Ski Corp. has committed an additional $100,000 over the Steamboat Grand funds to the transit center work.

Diamond acknowledged that the initiation of planning for improvements at Gondola Square and the gondola building does not mean the decision has been made to proceed with the work. American Skiing Company, parent of the Ski Corp., sold about 40 percent of the commercial buildings in the square within the past five years. The other owners are active participants in the planning and funding for the work, Diamond said.

"We don't have the resources to do the whole thing," Diamond said. "But we want to create a thoughtful plan so we can do the work as we have the capability."

Ski Corp. has association agreements in place that enable it to make assessments on the other owners for the improvements. However, Diamond said Ski Corp. had no intention of proceeding in that way. Instead, it will seek consensus.

Plans do not call for any new buildings at the base of the ski area, however, nine existing buildings would get new treatments. Tentative plans call for some timber and stone, but the amount of stone that can be used is limited by structural issues -- a number of the buildings were built over an underground parking garage, Diamond explained.

"It will be much more modern feeling when it's complete," Diamond said.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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