Townhomes fill high-end niche

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When developers began work on The Porches townhome development near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, local real estate brokers were less than enthusiastic about the project, arguing the units would be too big and too expensive for the Steamboat market, Randall Hannaway of Colorado Group said.

That skepticism seems to have been unfounded.

Between January and August, eight units either sold or went under contract, making up 50 percent of contracts in the $1 million to $2 million range for townhomes and homes within Steamboat Springs.

"Now, what we're finding is we're challenged to keep up with the demand for the product," Hannaway said.

At 3,700 to 5,000 square feet, that "product" is built with custom finishes and options and is geared in part toward buyers looking to flee urban traffic and headaches for a more peaceful and active mountain lifestyle, he said.

The Porches, on a 16-acre site just off Steamboat Boulevard, eventually will have 33 buildings with two townhomes each. Four units are complete, and eight more are under construction.

A 7,000-square-foot amenities building that will include an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, fire pit, TV lounge and gym, is scheduled for completion next month.

Although the townhomes are comparable in size and price to a second or year-round home, The Porches may be a better fit for some buyers looking for a worry-free residence, he said.

The development provides onsite maintenance, landscaping and concierge services as well as a neighborhood network.

Developers plan to spend more than $1 million on trees and landscaping that, when mature, will give the project a private atmosphere amid the hustle and bustle of the ski area and Central Park and Wildhorse plazas, Hannaway said.

"The idea was to take this site and make it its own quiet neighborhood inside a lot of activity," he said.

Adhering to a pedestrian-friendly environment, there will be a driveway for every two units, and garages will be built in the back of the townhomes when possible. Developers also arranged for utility lines to be placed behind the buildings to allow for meandering sidewalks, Hannaway said.

But that's just part of the project's appeal. The large four- and five-bedroom townhomes with their custom finishes and options provide a level of quality and detail previously absent in the Steamboat real estate market, said Lee Findell, a broker with Colorado Group Realty.

"It's a product people looked for but haven't been able to find," he said.

Mountain Meadows Preserve LLC is developing The Porches. Two of the three partners in the company own Glenwood-based Structural Associates, which is building the townhomes and is known for its high-quality designs and construction, Hannaway said.

Buyers choose from five floor plans that include main level master bedrooms, lavish kitchens, as well as spacious media rooms, large guest rooms and bathrooms and a well-thought-out children's room that allows for three sets of bunk beds.

Because of the demand, units will be complete about a year after purchase, allowing builders to customize almost everything from tile, stonework and carpet, to wood floors, appliances, fixtures and countertops.

Quality details in the townhomes include wood finishes made of alder or Douglas fir from the Oregon coast. The fir, which is less apt to crack or bow because it is from a consistently wet climate, requires an extensive five-step finishing process, Hannaway said.

Steamboat interior designer Suzy Lord has provided her expertise in furnishing and decorating the model home, and she is available to help buyers put unique touches on their units.

Potential buyers who consider Steamboat more of a vacation spot than part-time residence may find the perfect option in The Porches private residence club, a partial ownership option that the development team plans to begin promoting in December, Hannaway said.

The PRC will offer a one-eighth undivided interest in one of 28 fully furnished units. The interest may be transferred, sold or bequeathed and will allow owners to stay in the unit a minimum of six weeks a year.

Compared with paying almost $2 million for full ownership of a five-bedroom, seven-bath unit, partial ownership in the PRC would be about $375,000, Hannaway said.

"It's a great way to own real estate," Hannaway said. "You kind of buy what you use instead of spending a lot of money on something you might not use that much."

The Porches model unit is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. It is at 1291 Turning Leaf Court near Steamboat Boulevard and Rockies Way.

For more information, call 870-6686 or (866) 500-6673.

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