Relieving housing ailment

Developer's solution to city requirements aids hospital need

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Yampa Valley Medical Center senior recruiter Soniya Fidler, left, and financial systems analyst Wil Ladewig chat about new hire paperwork in the human resources office at the hospital Thursday. Ladewig, who moved to Steamboat at the beginning of March, is currently living in leased transitional housing provided by the hospital.

— City planning staff has begun reviewing an innovative proposal for 30 new condominiums near Central Park Plaza. If approved, the project would solve the affordable housing requirements for a large residential development while helping Yampa Valley Medical Center establish new employees in the community.

City Planner John Eastman said this week that the condo project at Lot 63 at Steamboat Barn Village has just entered the planning process and is likely to evolve in the coming weeks.

Steamboat Barn Village developer Bob Comes plans to build 74 free-market housing units on a site bounded on the west by Pine Grove Road, immediately behind the historical More Barn. Fish Creek runs along the northern boundary of the subdivision.

To obtain city approval, he must provide affordable housing units under the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance. He also needs permission to build an access road across hospital property. The condominium proposal would solve both of his needs - in exchange for a site where housing could be built for new hospital employees, he'll get the road access he needs. Comes would absorb the cost of taking the project through the planning process and providing infrastructure to the site. The hospital would pay for the cost of vertical construction of its building.

Comes said although meeting the affordable housing requirement is costly, he never hesitated, and he said he takes pride in the fact that the project would help a community institution such as the hospital attract new employees.

"I never fought this," Comes said. "It's a big expense to the project, but I'm happy to abide by it. It's as simple as that."

The Lot 63 proposal calls for 30 condominiums to be built just to the northwest of the existing medical office at the hospital campus. The project consists of two buildings, one to provide deed-restricted affordable units to fulfill the obligations of Steamboat Barn Village under the city's "inclusionary zoning ordinance."

The ordinance requires new developments to make 15 percent of their free-market units affordable units - Steamboat Barn Village would build 16 condominiums in the first of the two buildings. Of those, 11 would be used to satisfy SBV's inclusionary zoning requirements with five more to be used as an affordable housing bank for other developers.

The second building would create 14 housing units that would be made available to new employees at the hospital who are entering Steamboat's often difficult housing market.

"It's not intended to be permanent housing," hospital spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said. The hospital already provides transitional housing for its employees in rental homes in the community.

Eastman said the creativity of the Lot 63 proposal is interesting.

"This is the kind of thing we've been pointing the development community toward," he said. "It creates mixed housing types."

Technically, Lot 63 is being developed by a business entity called Steamboat Holdings II created by Comes. Although Yampa Valley Medical Center is listed among the developers on documents at the city, the project does not represent a business partnership between the two parties. Steamboat Barn Village is taking the hospital housing through the planning process as part of a single application.

"It's not a joint venture," Comes said.

The 1.49-acre Lot 63 site actually straddles the property boundary between the residential development and the hospital campus.

Comes confirmed the business deal with YVMC includes critical road access from Central Park Drive across hospital property to Steamboat Barn Village.

"It's a business decision that works for both of us," Comes said. "We get access, and they get staff housing that was needed."

The relationship was de-

scribed in a memo to the city from a land-use planner working on the project.

"As part of an agreement between the Steamboat Holdings II and YVMC for YVMC granting a 60-foot wide right-of-way through its property to serve SBV, Steamboat Holdings II has agreed to provide YVMC with at least 10,600 square feet of transitional housing space and associated parking spaces for use by YVMC," consultant Scott Woodford of Patten Associates wrote in a project description.

Woodford added the agreement allows for the project to be subdivided facilitating transfer of ownership to the hospital. Steamboat Holdings II will build all of the infrastructure on the site.

Comes said he was eager to get his "community housing plan" approved by the city so that work on Steamboat Barn Village can begin this summer.

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