Steamboat Springs The U.S. Forest Service building on E. U.S. Highway 40 proved to be a popular investment opportunity for buyers.
In just one month on the market, the 24,00-square-foot building attracted four offers.
In April, former owners Steve Dawes, Stephen Cavanagh and Mark McElhinney sold the property to St. Louis-based Mitco LLC for $4,425,000 according to Routt County real estate records.
The building, off of Weiss Drive across from the Holiday Inn, was built in 1997 for the U.S. Forest Service Hahn's Peak Ranger District. The agency, which occupies the building with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Yampatika, will remain in the building.
The property was listed and marketed by Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado Inc. in Denver. It was not advertised locally.
Buyers' interest in the property is not surprising considering the building is fairly new and has a stable tenant, said Vicky Hanna, a Steamboat Springs real estate broker who had a client interested in the property.
"It's buying a nice cash flow, and having a federal tenant as an occupant is really a good business plan," she said.
The Forest Service's lease expires October 2012, but there is some flexibility for negotiating out of that lease early -- an option the agency likely will take advantage of, District Ranger Kim Vogel said.
The Forest Service pays almost $346,800 a year to stay in the building. The rent, which amounts to about $14 per square foot, is the highest the agency pays in the six-district region comprising Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests, Vogel said.
Leases on buildings in Laramie and Douglas, Wyo., Walden and Kremmling are less than $10 per square foot. The Forest Service owns offices in Yampa and Saratoga, Wyo.
Vogel said the Steamboat Springs building is the perfect location for the Forest Service, which formerly was located in a cramped space in the Riverside Center west of Steamboat and in a building on 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue.
"We love being here, we just can't afford it," she said.
The Forest Service plans to explore several options, including buying a building or exchanging land for a lower lease in another location.
The Forest Ser--vice also may partner with other agencies such as the DOW and/or the Colorado State Forest Service because it works well for the entities to be in the same location, she said.
About 50 employees, including DOW and Yampatika staff currently are based at the U.S. Forest Service building. About 23 additional Forest Service employees work from the office seasonally.
The Hahn's Peak Ranger District comprises 6,000 acres in Routt National Forest. The district extends north to the Wyoming border, south to Sarvis Creek, west to areas near Hayden and east of the Continental Divide.
A "tremendous" number of residents and tourists visit the center each year for maps and information, educational services and permits, as well as hunting and fishing licenses purchased through the DOW, Vogel said.
Operating in resort areas is a constant challenge for the agency, which continually faces budget concerns, she said.
"We have problems with office space and attracting employees. ... It's a huge problem all around when it comes to higher cost of living areas," Vogel said.
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