Gone is the fancy metal sculpture of an English-style equestrian adorning the main gate of the Sidney Peak Ranch subdivision.
Soon in its place will be a rustic wood beam "monument" entranceway, a symbol of a project aimed at revamping the ranch to attract affluent buyers wanting a piece of Steamboat Springs' Western heritage and agricultural roots.
"It's a cowboy ranch. It's Steamboat. Get it right," Susan Onley, principal of Atlanta-based Southcreek Holdings LLC, told a large crowd of real estate brokers Thursday.
The development consulting firm and a team of local businesses have spent the past three months planning dramatic changes to the ranch that include a downtown sales office and renovations to the ranch's barn and arena complex.
The ranch is at the corner of Routt County Road 14 and Colorado Highway 131.
John Boler, owner of The Boler Company, a holding company in Chicago, and partner Herb Lamee began purchasing and assembling parcels of the ranch in 1992, pursuing Lamee's vision of an upscale hunt equestrian community.
Thirty-two lots in the ranch, which totals about 1,500 acres, went up for sale in 2000, said Jill Brabec, an attorney with Holloway & Associates, which is involved in the re-positioning process.
But the ranch's image, inconsistent with the area's character, combined with a sluggish real estate market after September 2001, dampened buyers' interest in the community, she said.
By the end of 2003, only five lots had sold, and it was clear a new approach was necessary.
Lamee dropped out of the project, and Boler, at the urging of his children, who frequently visit Steamboat, went ahead with a new development strategy.
"John has taken renewed interest in the project and is putting his heart and soul into it," attorney John Holloway said, as he introduced Realtors to the changes in store for the ranch.
Each lot includes 40 to 50 acres of deeded land with a 6- to 10-acre building envelope. Twenty-four lots, ranging in price from $570,000 to $1,050,000, are available.
A Catamount Ranch & Club membership and shared ownership of about 1,200 acres of land protected by conservation easements are wrapped up in lot values.
Owners also share interest in the ranch's indoor and outdoor riding arenas and a 25,000-square-foot barn equipped with heated tack room and 32 stalls.
Ranch staff will help owners make the most of the facilities by offering a menu of custom horse-care services, Onley said.
Renovations planned this summer and fall for the barn and arena complex include the addition of a kitchen, event area and lounge, as well as a large outdoor patio and fireplace.
In addition to architectural changes and landscaping additions, the renovations are designed to give the complex a more community feel while blending it with the natural surroundings, Onley said.
One of the most important changes in the Sidney Peak Ranch re-positioning process is the formation of Sidney Peak Ranch, LLP, an in-house sales "gallery," at 435 Lincoln Ave.
The office will have two full-time sales associates representing the project and assisting brokers in selling the properties.
"They're there to serve Realtors in the community," Onley said.
Businesses and residents who know the area best will be key in bringing Sidney Peak Ranch's motto, "Cowboy Heart, Colorado Soul" to fruition.
"I think the only way of capturing the essence of Sidney Peak Ranch is to utilize local talent," Onley said.
Longtime Steamboat resident Beth Mannon is the project's senior sales director, assisted by Christy Belton. Cigar Graphics & Communications Inc., Charles Cunniffe Architects and Truly Custom Remodeling are among businesses contributing to the redevelopment process.
For more information go to www.sidneypeakranch.com.