Wildhorse developer plans for reduction

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— Whitney Ward, developer of the residential Wildhorse Meadows project, plans to reduce the density of the project.

Plans for Wildhorse, which would be built on 44 acres near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, have not entered the city planning process. Ward said he envisions building 350 to 400 larger units instead of the 500 to 600 he spoke of at the end of May. American Skiing Company, which reached an agreement to sell the land to Ward in October 2003, at one time talked of building 1,100 units on the property. It previously was known as "Tennis Meadows."

At the same time he purchased the Wildhorse Meadows site, Ward acquired the 4.2-acre Snowflower II site, which encompasses the gondola parking lot in Steamboat. He announced at a May 27 Economic Summit meeting that he had formed a partnership with Canadian-based Dundee Realty to develop condominiums at Snowflower II. Dundee has offices in the Vail Valley and has completed projects at Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch.

Ward said in May that he hoped to bring a proposal for master plans for Wildhorse Meadows and Snowflower II forward jointly to the city as soon as this month. Now, Ward says, December is a more realistic time frame. He is less certain about when Dundee will come forward with conceptual plans.

Ward said his thinking in downsizing the residential units at Wildhorse is being driven by the marketplace and a trend toward affluent people seeking vacation homes on the scale of a primary residence. He said the reduced density could allow for the creation of greenbelts and a manmade stream.

The mix of residences would include units resembling free-standing homes, townhomes and condos. Ward envisions the highest density being clustered around the terminal of a proposed people-mover gondola. Professional firms working with Ward's Resort Ventures Inc. on Wildhorse Meadows include land-use planners Patten Associates Inc., the O'Bryan Partnership of Frisco and Ford Frick, who has consulted extensively in Colorado towns.

Ward is developing the nearby Wildhorse Marketplace commercial center under construction on Mount Werner Road. The developer has said there will be very little commercial development in Wildhorse Meadows.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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