Five years ago, Tim Geiger and his wife, Ali, bought a house on a hill adjacent to Oak Creek.
They moved because they wanted to live where they spent their weekends camping, boating and snowmobiling, Geiger said. They also wanted to raise a family, which they started with their 21-month-old daughter, in a small mountain town.
Oak Creek offered all the amenities they needed, from restaurants and groceries, to easy access for recreation, Geiger said. And the views from their back porch still make Geiger catch his breath.
"I've been living here for five years, and I still come out and sit in this hot tub and say, 'Wow. What a great view,'" he said, standing outside his home.
Now, Geiger and his partner Dave Tweedy are going through the final stages of a 70-unit subdivision on the field bordering Geiger's home.
Called Sierra View, the subdivision is meant to offer affordable lots to families and individuals who want to build a new home. Each lot should have a stunning view of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area and surrounding mountains, and the entire subdivision borders an irrigated hay meadow, Geiger said. Although it is tucked out of sight from Oak Creek on an adjacent hill, the subdivision will be a short walk to downtown.
With 70 units on 51 lots, Sierra View could add an estimated 210 new residents to Oak Creek, about a 25-percent increase in the town's population of 890.
The goal is not to make drastic changes, Geiger said, but rather to stabilize the town's economics. Just as small businesses need a minimum number of people to pay for themselves, towns need a minimum number of residents to help pay for infrastructure and other improvements, Geiger said.
"I don't really want to change the face of Oak Creek. I still like that small-town mountain feel," Geiger said.
"We live here. It's like our contribution to Oak Creek."
Plus, the building activity during the next 10 years in Oak Creek could create jobs for residents, cutting down on drives to Steamboat Springs, Tweedy said.
Tweedy moved to Steamboat 25 years ago from Minnesota and started building his first summer here. He, like most, came for the skiing, not giving much thought to whether he would stay.
One year turned into another, and soon he was building his own home in Stagecoach. Now, he owns J.D. Tweedy Construction and lives halfway between Oak Creek and Steamboat with his wife, Amy, whom he met playing softball in Steamboat, and their two boys, ages 8 and 6.
He has experience building subdivisions in Steamboat and houses across the county.
Tweedy bought the Sierra View field 10 years ago as a speculative investment and tried with two other partners to get the subdivision going. But everyone got too busy, and the plans were put on hold, Tweedy said.
A year and a half ago, Geiger, who owns and runs Autoglass Masters, got involved and got the project moving again. Although he did not have extensive experience in construction, he had helped his father build homes and had worked as a landscaper. He also had a lot of interest in what happened on the field next to his home.
The subdivision, both men said, will offer affordable options for everyone, from families raising young children, to couples looking to retire and downsize, to people looking for a second home in a recreation hot spot.
With several townhome and duplex options, it also offers flexibility for people with different needs.
"I think people will realize just how many amenities there are in this area," Geiger said. "When people start looking at what they can access in 30 minutes, it's a lot."
With lots likely to be priced between $40,000 and $60,000, the developers envision homes that would cost half a million dollars in Steamboat costing only $250,000 in the subdivision.
The developers are paying for all new infrastructure, including dry utilities, water and sewer, and paved streets.
The subdivision will have guidelines for building to give the area a unified look, the men said. Those guidelines could include a two-car garage, covered front porch, and discouraging on-street parking.
Overall, the men said, the general feeling of residents in Oak Creek and throughout the county is excitement.
"A lot of people have approached me and said they've always liked Oak Creek but they couldn't really build," Geiger said. "(Sierra View) is a good thing for Oak Creek, it's a good thing for South Routt, and it's a good thing for Steamboat."
"It has been an exciting process," Tweedy said. "We've had our setbacks, but we're trying to do the best for the town. ... I think the subdivision will be healthy for the town."
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