It's happening in Basalt. It already happened in the Eagle Valley.
Following the trend of small towns near ski resorts, Hayden is now beginning to see people moving its way.
Hayden is being eyed for major growth with several subdivision proposals, including a major 2,000-home, golf-course development. Some say a population explosion is imminent, while others are unconvinced.
Developers of the large subdivision, The Villages at Hayden, give a number of reasons why they think new residents will flock to their subdivision. But skeptics wonder who will move into 2,000 new homes, particularly considering the vast number of properties already for sale, few of which are selling quickly.
More than 50 properties, including about 20 existing homes, are for sale in the town of Hayden.
Forty-four of the properties are listed in the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service and two are listed by Craig real estate brokers. Those 46 properties include 16 existing homes, and do not include a few others for sale by owner, or properties surrounding the town.
Several of the homes were recently built in the Golden Meadows and Sagewood subdivisions, the latter of which has six unsold lots.
Only the first, 30-lot phase of the Sagewood subdivision has been developed, and the second phase of 35 lots is set for groundbreaking next week, listing Realtor Dutch Elting of Prudential Steamboat Realty said.
Elting said interest in Sagewood has been better than ever in 2004, which is helping to justify the second phase. However, like some Hayden residents, Elting wonders who will buy the proposed 2,000 new homes.
"Our absorption rate on the first 30 (Sagewood) lots has been less than desirable in the two and a half years it's been on the market," Elting said. "I'm a little surprised how slowly this Hayden thing is taking off.
"I'm wondering what these developers are thinking with 2,000 homes, with the percentage of growth now in the single digits. It's an interesting scenario."
Elting said Steamboat's affordable housing development, West End Village, slowed Sagewood sales "right off the bat" because people who worked in Steamboat could afford to build there and avoid commuting.
Ron Sills, one of the development partners of The Villages at Hayden, said people will be attracted to the development because, among several reasons, it will provide jobs to prospective residents.
Because The Villages at Hayden would take nearly 20 years to complete, people who live in the first phase could work in the construction of latter phases and the 18-hole golf course, Sills said. The golf course and its proposed clubhouse, restaurant, pool, tennis courts and office building would also provide jobs after they are completed, Sills said.
Sills also told the Hayden Town Board on April 15 that "all the housing here is overpriced," citing market analysis studies conducted by his development group.
The average price for existing Hayden homes listed for sale is about $175,000, which is considered affordable by many in the Yampa Valley.
"Our plan is to produce affordable housing," Sills said. "Our plan is to provide homes and financing packages. That's the only way to get affordable housing in Routt County."
The lots in the Sagewood subdivision that remain empty are vacant because it is much more difficult for a young family to come in, choose a lot, get a building loan and go through the entire process as opposed to finding a pre-built home with a simple financing plan, Sills said.
"I think he's right on the money," Hayden Realtor Jack Giessinger said about Sills' theory. "I think his statements are 100 percent correct. The proposed price range is affordable and this seems like a golden opportunity staring us in the face."
Elting, however, said he doesn't understand how The Villages at Hayden could be an affordable housing subdivision if it is centered on a golf course. The simple addition of curbs and gutters at Sagewood increased lot prices by more than a thousand dollars each, he said.
"The amenities will make it pricey," Elting said. "And it's kind of a chicken-or-the-egg type situation, with the golf course or the people coming first."
Hayden Planning Commission member Chuck VeDepo echoes Elting's thoughts.
"(Sills) used 'affordable housing' and 'golf course' in the same sentence," VeDepo said, recalling the recent Town Board meeting. "It's blasphemy. I don't know how they could do it."
At that meeting, Hayden resident and Realtor Medora Fralick also questioned The Villages.
"Who is going to buy these homes when build-out now is not being absorbed?" she asked.
"It's simple economics," VeDepo said. "Demand will drive growth. In the 10 years I've been here, I haven't seen the demand drive the growth to where we need 2,000 homes. Would that many people move here? Would people move here because of a golf course? I don't know."
If approved, The Villages at Hayden would not only have to compete with the 35-lot second phase of Sagewood, but also another 29-lot subdivision, The Meadow, which received final approval April 15.
Paul Flood, developer of The Meadow, plans to build houses on the lots and plans for them also to fall in the sub-$200,000 range.
"The demand will come, I think, from people (in Steamboat) who haven't found something in their price range," Flood said.
While some properties have been on the market for years, about seven were listed recently, Giessinger said.
"Home sales are very cyclical here," he said. "Springtime is the highest selling time, and that cycle is now taking effect. As soon as school is out, people start making the decisions whether to move in or move out."
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