Dundee Realty to partner with Ward on condos

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Wildhorse developer Whitney Ward is within 120 days of revealing plans for two of the key development parcels remaining at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Ward announced Thursday he has formed a partnership with the American division of a Canadian real estate development firm to build luxury condominiums on the Snowflower II site adjacent to the Steamboat gondola building.

Ward told an audience at Economic Summit 2004 in the Steamboat Grand that Dundee Realty USA would take the lead on the project while he plays a limited role.

Dundee's American operations have focused on developing high-end multi-family residential projects at Beaver Creek and at neighboring Arrowhead.

Ward also announced that although Snowflower II will not be linked to the larger Wildhorse Meadows development parcel, he would bring plans for its future to the city simultaneously with the plans for Snowflower. That step is being undertaken at the urging of the city planning department, he said, in order to help the community understand how the two are interrelated.

Ward's company, Resort Ventures, purchased the 4.2-acre Snowflower site and the 44-acre Wildhorse Meadows (previously known as Tennis Meadows) parcel from American Skiing Corp. in January for nearly $9 million.

Along with the two major parcels, he acquired a small commercial lot in Steamboat Village Com-mercial Center next to Taco Bell.

Ward is building a nearby commercial center, Wildhorse Marketplace, which has signed a lease with Gart Sports/Sports Authority, the nation's largest sporting goods retailer. Construction on that project is under way.

Greg Finch, executive vice president for Dundee Realty USA, said he envisions entering the city planning process within three to four months.

"It's a big project and it's a very complicated project," Finch said. "But I think it will be fun. I'm looking forward to it. We're targeting between 150,000 and 170,000 ... square feet with just a little retail (on the ground floor)."

Finch will be the project manager for development of Snowflower II, which is destined for a name change. He predicted the new condominiums would test the depth of the Steamboat market in price ranges of $400 to $600 per square foot. Dundee has completed two projects in Arrowhead (linked to Beaver Creek by ski lifts) and broke ground on a third on Wednesday. The company has also completed two projects in the Bachelor Gulch development at Beaver Creek, which sold at prices up to $800 per square foot, Finch said. He won't attempt to build that high in Steamboat.

Ward said Dundee hasn't decided whether or not it will employ a mix of timeshare and whole ownership marketing strategies on the project.

Finch said Dundee's first project in Beaver Creek, St. James Place, sold a significant number of traditional one-week timeshare intervals for prices between $40,000 and $60,000. Many of those customers used St. James Place to gain familiarity with the market and ultimately purchased expensive homes in the Vail Valley, he said.

Ward said he envisions a master planned community in Wildhorse Meadows with little or no retail. He and his partners in Resort Ventures may develop portions of Wildhorse Meadows themselves, but also will welcome proposals from outside developers willing to take on a portion of the plan he hopes to have approved by the city of Steamboat Springs.

The residential units in Wildhorse Meadows could range from zero lot line, single-family villas to townhomes and condominiums, Ward said.

Ward added that he has firmed up his "aerial transportation easement" with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., which would allow the construction of an open-air people mover gondola linking Wildhorse and Ski Corp.'s remote parking lot with Snowflower II. However, he said it would probably take a collaborative effort among several entities with a stake in the gondola, including Ski Corp., to get it built.

The demand for newly constructed ski town condos, Finch said, is being driven by baby boomers who want a three or four-bedroom condo with high-end finishes in which they can entertain adult children and grandchildren. He tentatively expects that a three-bedroom condo at Snowflower II would encompass about 1,800 square feet. A certain level of pre-sales will be a necessity in order to arrange construction financing for the project, Finch said. He may also seek to build the project in several phases, which could mean two or three buildings on the Snowflower site.

One likely scenario is building all of the covered parking required for the project, then beginning the first building on top of it, leaving the balance in landscaping until a second phase is ready to go.


-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or

e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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