Our View: Reinventing downtown

Private investment in our downtown core will pay big dividends for the community

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— The approval last week of The Olympian, a 41,100-square-foot commercial and residential building at the corner of Fifth and Yampa streets, continues the radical transformation of our downtown area.

We believe this transformation will have a significantly positive impact on the community, raising the vibrancy of downtown, helping existing small businesses, enhancing downtown as a retail and entertainment destination for visitors and driving sales tax revenues even higher.

It is worth noting that this transformation is being driven not by government, but by private investors and their faith in our resort economy. Developers have shown a growing willingness to take chances on major projects in the area between Third and 13th streets. And as each project is approved and completed, it encourages others to make similar investments.

We think their investments will pay off, for them and the city as a whole.

These are no small undertakings. A summary of what has been done in the past three years:

Waterside Village, a commercial and residential development at the corner of 11th and Yampa, opened last year. It includes 13 townhomes and nine commercial spaces.

Construction has begun on Alpenglow at Sixth and Lincoln. It is about 45,000 square feet, including 7,700 square feet of retail space.

Construction has begun on Howelsen Place, which will replace the Harbor Hotel at Seventh and Lincoln. It includes about 118,000 square feet, 41,000 square feet of which is retail space.

Work has started on Riverwalk at Fifth and Yampa, which will include 240,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.

As noted above, the City Council approved The Olympian at Fifth and Yampa last week. It will include 23 condos and 7,700 square feet of retail space.

The Victoria at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue is in the planning process and will feature about 25,000 square feet of condo, office and retail space.

These six projects will add nearly 200 residential units to downtown, an eighth of which will be affordable units. New stores, shops and restaurants are being added. And buildings and spacees that needed to go away - the Harbor Hotel, the Alpiner, Rocky Mountain Discount Liquors, Emerald City and Westland Mobile Home Park - are going away.

Throw in some of the other projects of recent years - the new Ski and Bike Kare building, the new Cugino's, the renovations at Lyon's Corner Drug and Azteca Taqueria and the Chieftain Building - and you can see what Realtor and developer Jim Cook means when he says downtown Steamboat is being reinvented. Cook, who is involved in half of the big six projects going on downtown, sees downtown Steamboat becoming an attractive entertainment district.

Cook and Paul Franklin, developer of The Olympian, have been progressive and community-minded in their approaches. Cook imposed a 0.25 percent transfer fee on sales of units in his three developments to be used for arts efforts downtown. Similarly, Franklin will use a transfer fee on his units to help fund the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Developers are often easy targets of blame for growth, traffic and escalating real estate prices. But downtown Steamboat Springs is undergoing an extreme makeover that will benefit the community for decades to come. And it would not have happened without the vision and investment of the development community.

Comments

Tigger 8 years ago

Your an idiot. If you read the plans you would notice the "underground" parking was included in the Olympian.

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flipside 8 years ago

Could the Pilot be more arrogant? - "And buildings and spacees that needed to go away - the Harbor Hotel, the Alpiner, Rocky Mountain Discount Liquors, Emerald City and Westland Mobile Home Park - are going away."

All of those places "needed" to "go away" according to the Pilot. How completely arrogant. And the Alpiner really needs to go away? I didn't even know it was scheduled for demolition.

PLUS, they can't even use spellcheck, apparently - "spacees" - really?

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Ummmm...Snowy...first paragraph says,

"Steamboat Springs - The approval last week of The Olympian, a 41,100-square-foot commercial and residential building at the corner of Fifth and Yampa streets, continues the radical transformation of our downtown area."

41,100 sq. ft.; Almost 4x the size of Chase and almost 7x your quote. Is the Pilot misprinting it? I mean, even just 20 residential units at 1000 sq. ft. each is 20,000 sq. ft. alone, and I'm guessing they'll be larger than 1000 sq. ft. each.

Chase has what, approximately 30 spaces for itself and Healthy Solutions, and that's just 2 businesses. That parking area is routinely filled. Granted, not all those parked there, since it's outdoor parking, is probably frequenting those businesses all the time, but still: the math isn't adding up.

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Underground parking is going to accomodate how many vehicles, considering most families are 2 car-owner families now, and then parking for the businesses...oooooookaaaaay.

Plus, how much and how well will "underground" space work at 5th & Yampa...which tends to flood in that area? See it happen with my friend's grandmother's house at 6th & Yampa almost every year, even when it's not a heavy snow season. Good luck with underground parking there.

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snowysteamboat 8 years ago

34 spaces underground. 4 spaces in garages.

Your friends house is in the 100 year floodplain. This site is not.

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snowysteamboat 8 years ago

Just the facts.

Chase Oriental 11,060 sq. ft

Olympian 6,927 sq. ft.

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snowysteamboat 8 years ago

I was comparing the commercial components of the two projects.

You wouldn't want a downtown that doesn't have at least a perceived parking problem.

Kielbases wrote "and retail space equivalent to...I don't know, Chase Oriental Rugs (formerly Soda Creek Mercantile) building"

I was correcting this error.

4Seasons-It is not I that is confused, that I can assure you.

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Snowy- yes, this is true, but I've also seen some of the trailers on the opposite side of the street that have flooded every once in a while.

Either way- 23 residential and retail space equivalent to...I don't know, Chase Oriental Rugs (formerly Soda Creek Mercantile) building...Sound like enough parking for 38 total spaces? I guess it would if the residential units were 2nd home-owned and were empty 9 months a year. Plus, it hasn't even broken ground yet. Any bets on a request for revision for payment-in-lieu when it all is said and done?

Don't get me wrong- I have nothing against the place, personally. I've lived here too long to see everything in the plans come to fruition.

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Snowy- you are right. My mistake in the comparison. Still, underground parking and 4 garages. I'd automatically assume that the garages are specifically for the housing portion. That leaves the rest to be covered for housing and business. Still don't see it happening, though.

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Tigger 8 years ago

Yeah , I try to park at 5th and Yampa all the time! (rolls eyes)

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dave mcirvin 8 years ago

very tough crowd. the testosterone laced tone sounds more like faux news...

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Tigger- Notice in the summer how the "strip" of parking against the river between 5th & 6th on Yampa is always full...a lot of time from either kids in the evening or watersports buffs during the day? I see it all the time.

Add housing and a business, increased traffic & parking needed to accomodate. Plenty of businesses overflow into Bank of the West's parking area and fill that parking lot every weekday. Used to be hell finding a parking space when I used to do deposits at my old job.

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skitownpuppet 8 years ago

I think the main idea is to look at the bigger picture here. Parking is an issue and so is affordable housing but one theme that is consistent is the City of Steamboats inability to tackle either of these issues and challenge themselves to think creatively and problem solve. I agree that these buildings did not "have to go away" but I also believe that as we look long term towards future growth in this town they needed to go. I also think the same argument could be made for a number of other buildings without historical value. Downtown is the heart and soul of this community and also remember the new justice center on the West side of town is going to create 50 plus parking spaces in downtown alone on a daily basis. The city needs a parking structure and there are a few places it makes sense. Sell the existing parking lot on 10th and Lincoln to a developer and use the funds to create a parking garage on another "off Lincoln Ave" site. This solves a number of issues. It gets rid of a parking lot on main street where there should be a constant row of commercial retail properties and it puts money in the county and towns pockets from real estate tax to sales tax revenues from stores conducting business. The other option is to build a three story parking structure on this site with one being underground the the other two ground and up one story. PArking is not an issue except for those who work downtown and that is why a central strucutre is needed. This is not a developers issue it is a town issue. The City has also collected in lieu of parking fees over the years and none of those funds have ever been set aside to find or pay for off site parking anywhere else. Which is why the fund was set up. This is not only unfair but illegal. I am not a developer but I am pro growth and I do believe the best problem solving comes from voting the right people to be on City Council. Ken Brenner and his pony show need to beat it or educate themselves as to what the real issues are and how to solve them.

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