Housing questions continue

Base area bigwigs ask City Council for clarity

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What: Open House to present designs, materials and costs for base area redevelopment projects, and provide a chance for the public to meet with city planners and base area redevelopment consultants.

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: Project Coordinator Joe Kracum at 871-7077 or Steamboat Springs Senior City Planner Suzanne Bott at 871-8275.

— Base area property owners and Steamboat Ski Area executives reiterated Friday that the city's unclear housing policies could be delaying base area redevelopment.

In a lunchtime meeting with six members of the Steamboat Springs City Council, members of the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition, or BARC, expressed concerns that the council's ongoing process to revise city housing policies presents unclear expectations for potential developers at the base area, and they again questioned whether base area construction projects should move forward in 2007.

"I have significant issues about whether our URA is going to be successful," said Chris Diamond, president of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "If there is not a clear path on some of these (housing) issues, we are not going to have a successful redevelopment."

The City Council implemented an urban renewal au-

thority, or URA, at the base area in 2005 to raise money for public improvements in the area. Redevelopment projects scheduled to begin in 2007 include a roundabout near the Steamboat Trading Company and the Tugboat Grill & Pub, pedestrian connections such as a walkway from the Gondola Transit Center to Ski Time Square, increased signage and an expanded snowmelt system for public walkways.

In late October, seven BARC members sent a letter to the City Council recommending that all URA projects be put "on hold" because of the city's "increasingly unpredictable, arbitrary and inflexible regulatory environment" regarding housing policies.

The City Council has begun a several-month process to create a comprehensive housing plan for Steamboat Springs. Aff-

ordable housing issues headline Tuesday's council meeting.

Chuck Porter, manager of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort at the base area, told council members Friday that developers may be hesitant to invest in the base area, or in Steamboat, while the city's affordable housing requirements - and associated costs - are not finalized.

"For prospective buyers, their main concern is that they can do something with their assets, and that the city is receptive to that," Porter said.

"We don't have a buyer," Diamond added, referring to Steamboat Ski Area.

Both the Sheraton and the ski area are for sale.

Diamond said after Friday's meeting that he and Porter were not implying the council's actions could be delaying the sale of the Sheraton or the ski area.

"All we did was express the kind of concerns we've heard," Diamond said. "I think everybody looks at the One Steam-

boat Place process nervously, but recognizes that it probably won't happen again - they were the first ones through."

The council has twice denied proposed community housing plans for One Steamboat Place, a 440,000-square-foot, mixed-use development planned for a 4-acre site adjacent to the ski area's gondola building. The denials could require Carbondale-based developers Timbers Company to revise building plans for One Steam-

boat Place or adjust sale prices because of increased costs.

At Friday's meeting, BARC members asked the council to consider a number of BARC requests when creating the city's housing plan. The requests include adjustments of affordable housing requirements at the base area and development incentives.

Council member Steve Ivancie was absent Friday.

Diamond, Porter and City Council President Ken Brenner all expressed optimism after the meeting.

"This is the best discussion I've had about these issues since I've been in town," Diamond said.

Joe Kracum, who the city hired as project coordinator for base area redevelopment, said - as he did after the BARC letter two months ago - that until the City Council tells him otherwise, he will continue with URA construction plans.

Those plans will be presented at an Open House from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Steve Lewis 8 years ago

Unclear regulations are simply not the issue. The problem is some BARC members are unwilling to do their share of housing our workforce. A minority in BARC, Whitney Ward and Brent Pearson, already stepped up to do their part at Wildhorse Meadows. Jim Cook and Paul Franklin stepped up with their part in the Howelson Place and The Olympian projects downtown. Development approval is as easy as saying "I'll do my part". -Steve Lewis, City Planning Commissioner

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Scott Wedel 8 years ago

BARC members are correct when they argue that the rules to provide affordable housing are unclear. One Steamboat was proposed when the City allowed paying a fee instead of providing housing. That option is now apparently gone.

It makes no economic sense to require projects to include affordable housing onsite. That will mean using some of the most valuable locations to provide affordable housing when it would make far more sense to put affordable housing at affordable locations and it would make sense to require more affordable units because the current requirements provide housing for only a handful of the jobs created by these projects. It would also make sense to REQUIRE the developer to build those offisite units instead of paying a fee. A developer with the capacity to build a 44,000 square foot complex with luxury units has the capacity to build a couple dozen affordable houses.

The other important part of the story is the massive shortage of worker/rental housing now that Craig is in the middle of an energy related boom. Look at the long list of jobs advertised compared to the handful of ads for housing for rent.

It is laughable to say the current process is clear or coming close to providing enough affordable housing.

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dave reynolds 8 years ago

said it once will say it again..affordable housing in Steamboat is a joke..300,000 dollar condos..so you can have assoc. tell you what you can and can not do no yard or garage..can not work on your car or park your boat,camper, etc. cause it looks like clutter..the only TRUE affordable housing is trailor parks and they are 1 by 1 getting fazed out of the equasion employers although they think they are paying a liveable wage are not..can not really blame them for they pay outragious lease rates..so this issue is a waste of time my father bought his home for 12,000 dollars worked for shell oil we never went without..my point being the price ratio of his home to his income was liveable..but it just plain and simple is not a reality here unfortunately..soon there will be no one to work at the ski area,bag your groegies, wait on you at reataurants,etc...cause they cann't afford to live here..back in the day(20 yrs ago) it was doable not now..living the dream ya right

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Steve Lewis 8 years ago

Scott, thanks for using your name. Since the "unclear regulation" compaint largely comes from payment-in-lieu (PIL) rejections, taking PIL off the table as you suggest could be a good step. Putting all the housing on the cheapest land? I'll disagree for three reasons: 1) I don't want a Steamboat that has a "rich man, not home" end of town, and a "poor man and we all know it" end of town. 2) Visit Telluride sometime. It has a GREAT looking new mountain village -that's DEAD half of the year. They have now said they wish they had put Affordable Housing closer to the village, for more vitality. 3) If it weren't for 1)and 2), I somewhat agree that the developer building off-site works. The off-site should be in the same proximity as the project in question. The new PUD mentioned in the article was specifically written to take subjectivity out and put more certainty into the development application process. BARC is asking exemption from it. Fair to say the "unclear regulations" argument is really a "cheaper regulations" argument. -Steve Lewis

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another_local 8 years ago

Forcing affordable units into base area developements is a bad idea.

It is not a desirable place to live. It will not create long term stable neighborhoods. Association dues will be out of this world.

Our council has changed the rules several times despite what Steve Lewis says. The PIL offer from One Steamboat Place was in line with the rule at the time they made it... Our council decided after the fact that they had not asked for enough. It is true that they did not ask for enough, but it is BS to change the rules after the fact.

Affordable only on the cheapest land? No, I would not go there, but it makes no sense at all to put it on the most expensive land for the simple reason that if you leverage the PIL payments from the more expensive locations you can get MORE UNITS if you build in the moderate and less expensive places.

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