A vacant lot at one of the key intersections in Old Town Steamboat Springs could be transformed by plans for a new four-story building.
Developer Paul Franklin has applied to the city of Steamboat Springs to build 24 residential condominiums and almost 7,000 square feet of commercial space close to the entrance to Howelsen Hill. The site is on the northwest corner of the intersection of Fifth and Yampa streets. It's close to the Fifth Street Bridge over the Yampa River and across Yampa from Lion's Park. The Bank of the West parking lot is immediately west of the site.
Franklin previously developed the Elkins Meadow residential subdivision on Fish Creek Falls Road.
City Planner Jonathan Spence said the "Fifth and Yampa" project, as it's currently known, has been fun to work on and received generally favorable comments from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and City Council during a preliminary review process.
Spence said the developers propose including four deed-restricted affordable housing units in the project. Technically, he said, city ordinance requires three larger affordable units than the four smaller units being proposed. He predicted that aspect of the project would generate some discussion during public hearings on the development permit for the building.
Of the 24 housing units in Fifth and Yampa, 14 would be fewer than 2,000 square feet and a half-dozen would be greater than 2,000 square feet. The building would include an underground parking garage accessed off Yampa Street.
Franklin said the Fifth and Yampa building, with the proposed use of brick and steel is similar to development projects he has undertaken in Chicago.
"I'm actually back in my comfort zone," he said.
Franklin said he and his family already travel by the intersection numerous times a week going to and from Howelsen Hill. He's aware of the heavy foot traffic in the area and envisions a restaurant in the corner commercial location. A high-end women's boutique and perhaps an ice cream store might also be good tenants, he added.
"There's a need for something along the river at that end of Yampa Street to anchor it," Franklin said.
Spence said the design of the building has met with the approval of the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, but that doesn't signify that the building is meant to look like the older brick buildings in Steamboat's downtown commercial district. Instead, he said, it picks up design elements from the past - window patterns and lintels over the windows, for example - and incorporates them into a modern design.
Architect Brandt Vanderbosch of Vertical Arts said the building would use stone on its exterior and possibly metal siding in a board and batten pattern that throws shadow lines on the wall.
The handful of condos on the fourth floor would be set back significantly from the Yampa Street frontage, creating room for outdoor living and extensive rooftop plantings. Residents will enjoy an interior courtyard with landscaping.
The corner entrance to the largest commercial space was designed to suggest the lines of the ski jumps across the river at Howelsen Hill, Vanderbosch added.
Vanderbosch is also the architect of record for another project on Yampa Street, River Walk.
Franklin said he's aware that his building will be in competition with several other downtown mixed-use projects all coming onto the market in the near future. In addition to River Walk, they include the Alpenglow and Howelsen Place. He's undeterred by the existence of competition and believes the various projects will all contribute to interest in the emerging urban housing market in the downtown core.
"It's all good for the downtown area," Franklin said. "It will create a lot of vitality. We've already had a lot of interest. Baby boomers don't feel the need to live at the ski mountain and like the idea of being able to walk to shopping and dining."
Franklin would like to obtain the necessary city approvals by early fall and possibly break ground on construction by March 2007.