Eleven original lots remain in final filing

Sanctuary story unfolds over 15 years

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New homes in The Sanctuary are in position to soak up the winter sun on a south-facing ridge above Fish Creek.

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The Sanctuary subdivision describes an arc around the eastern edge of the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course. The Nordic ski bridge crossing Fish Creek is visible in the foreground.

— The Sanctuary, a luxury home subdivision in Steamboat Springs, provides a revealing snapshot of how far the local real estate market has come.

The Sanctuary has been developed during 15 years in five separate filings. It features 148 lots. Filing five has 11 lots left for sale of the original 59, and there are no re-sales listed in this final phase, Realtor Vicky Hanna said. She has a co-listing on the project with colleague Pam Vanatta of Prudential Steamboat Realty.

The least expensive lot in The Sanctuary sold in 1993 for $125,000. It's difficult to find a single family building lot in the city limits today for $200,000, and $300,000 is more typical.

The most expensive building lot in The Sanctuary just sold in August for $687,500, Hanna said. There remain half-acre Sanctuary lots on the market for less than $500,000, and given the way the bottom of the land market has been coming up to meet them, they can increasingly be perceived as a relative value.

Vanatta said the "for sale" signs that dotted The Sanctuary two years ago have disappeared.

"We've seen a lot of home sales in the past year," Vanatta said. "They sold well throughout the winter, and now, you don't see them."

Vanatta said The Sanctuary represents a product that can no longer be found within the city limits - large lots insulated from traffic and noise in a natural setting.

"With these last 11 lots, when you consider the seclusion and the views they offer, I just don't know where you're going to find it," she said.

Golf course memberships are available with all but a few re-sale lots. The transfer of golf course memberships to new owners requires a modest fee that varies between original developer lots and re-sale lots.

Lots in Filing Four represent some of the most current resale figures. Lot 69, originally purchased in the spring of 1998 for $185,000, sold one year ago for $470,000. A resale with a shorter timeframe was Lot 63, which sold in July 2002 for $315,000. It went back on the market and sold for $460,000 in September 2005.

Lot 123, listed at $705,000, is under contract with competing offers, Hanna said.

The Sanctuary was originally the product of a partnership between two former principles in the Steamboat Ski Area.

Martin Hart's Northwest Colorado Ski Corp. sold the ski area to a Japanese company, Kamori Kanko Ltd., in 1989.

When the two parties entered into negotiations over some of the ancillary holdings of Ski Corp., Hart and Kimihito Kamori agreed to become partners on more than 200 acres of land that wraps in a horseshoe around the back nine of the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Course, straddling Fish Creek.

"I told Mr. Kamori's people I wanted to keep the 222 acres," Hart said last week. "They got back to me after a while and said, 'He'll split it with you. He wants to be partners.' I said 'tell Mr. Kamori he's a partner!'"

Eight years later, when Kamori sold the ski area to American Skiing Company, Hart negotiated to buy out the share in the Sanctuary that ASC acquired along with the ski area.

The Sanctuary always was intended to develop during a period of years, but Hart acknowledges he never envisioned a 15-year selling period. However, he's pleased with the character of the subdivision today.

"What I didn't fully anticipate was the beautiful homes people would build," Hart said. "I think we have a very happy community."

Filing five has 15 homes under construction or complete, Vanatta said. That means there remains the potential for 33 new constructions starts in the near future. Vanatta predicts Steamboat residents will begin to see more examples of nontraditional mountain architecture.

"I really think filing five will be an excellent place to have a home tour some day," she said.

Hart invested a large amount of money in public trail systems throughout the subdivision. He spent six figures on a steel bridge over Fish Creek that is wide enough to accommodate the full-sized Bombardier snow cat that grooms trails for the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. He also built a skier's underpass so cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts don't have to remove their equipment where the trails cross Steamboat Boulevard in the vicinity of the water filtration plant.

"I think we have more mountain bikers using the trails in summer than we actually have skiers in winter," Hart said.

Vanatta, who lives in The Sanctuary, said snowshoeing is very popular among the residents. "Vicky and I have both purchased lots in the Sanctuary," Vanatta said. "We believe in the subdivision."

Vanatta and Hanna can be reached at 879-8100.

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