Officials prepare ski area plan

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Behind-the-scenes work is continuing in preparation for a July 14 hearing on plans to redevelop the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

City Planning Director Steve Stamey said the city Planning Commission is scheduled to review the plan July 14 and again Aug. 11. It will be forwarded to the City Council for a Sept. 13 public hearing.

Planning staff and consultant Stan Clauson Associates of Aspen are working on two fronts, Stamey said. Clauson is synthesizing the best of three proposals into a single plan for the July 14 meeting. At the same time, a set of architectural design standards is being prepared. It would guide developers who want to build on undeveloped lots or those who want to demolish 25-year-old buildings to bring the base area up to contemporary standards.

Developers have been on hold since March, when the City Council imposed a moratorium on processing of new development permits for projects lining the horseshoe at the base of the ski area. The council was reacting to a burst of interest on the part of developers. Before they examined those projects, city officials said they wanted an overall plan in place with a vision of how the base area would appear and function.

The moratorium remains in place until Nov. 1.

Community leaders want to be certain that as Steamboat's base area is redeveloped for the 21st century, the work is done in a manner that enhances pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and complements the natural environment. Officials also want to make certain the appearance and scale of the buildings are consistent and harmonious.

The Clauson team's three proposals shared some common elements, and resort officials have asked the team to select varying elements from all three to come up with a final plan.

One of the centerpieces of the plan is a pedestrian "promenade" ringing the lower ski trails where they adjoin condominiums, shops and restaurants.

The three alternatives include demolishing a pair of parking garages that bracket the entrance to Ski Time Square, Clauson representative Suzanne Bott said. That would clear the way for better use of the space -- possibly a convention center or performing arts complex. The alternatives also suggest creating a looped road through Ski Time Square that would allow vehicles to circulate rather than being confronted by a dead end near the Christie lifts.

The impetus for the planning process can be traced to the November 2004 approval by voters living in a small portion of the city near the base of the ski area for an urban renewal authority. It would dedicate a portion of incremental property tax growth to funding public infrastructure only in the base area.

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