Saturday, February 3, 2007
Steamboat Springs The developers of 80 multimillion-dollar condominiums at One Steamboat Place have settled on a plan to meet the city's affordable housing requirements.
David Burden, chief executive officer of Timbers Resorts, confirmed this week his company will form a joint venture with Resort Ventures West to build its 18 required affordable units simultaneously with the 80 affordable units already planned at Wildhorse Meadows.
Resort Ventures West Vice President Brent Pearson confirmed the details of the plan and said that with the city's approval, construction on all 98 units would begin this summer.
Burden stressed a formal submittal of the community housing plan has not been made to the city, and more discussions with City Council are anticipated. However, he said informal conversations with city Planning Director Tom Leeson have taken place.
"We knew we always had it solved," Burden said. "It was just a matter of how."
Timbers has won council approval of its final development plan, but approval of the community housing plan required by city ordinance has lingered. Burden's development team has struggled with the desire by some City Council members to have the affordable units built on site, immediately adjacent to Gondola Square at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
Plans call for Wildhorse Meadows and One Steamboat Place to be linked by a people-mover gondola.
Pearson said the creation of a joint venture to build the community housing for both projects at Wildhorse Meadows allows construction of his company's condominium hotel, Trailhead Lodge, and One Steamboat Place to go forward at the same time this summer. That, in turn, keeps the plans for the people-mover gondola on schedule.
There also are economies of scale to be realized by teaming up to build all of the affordable housing units at the same time, Pearson said.
"We asked ourselves, 'Why can't we create a market-driven partnership to (build the housing) in a suitable location near the mountain that would solve a number of problems?'" Pearson said.
However, he emphasized that for the plan to work, city government must be willing to approve it without a need for Resort Ventures West to re-enter the development permit process.
"In the bigger scheme of things, we've got our approval, and we can't have (the joint venture plan) delay our project," Pearson said.
The city is requiring the overall project at Wildhorse Meadows, which includes single-family lots and townhomes as well as two hotels, build 76 affordable units. The development plan put forth by Resort Ventures West calls for 80 units.
"We're zoned for 80 to 90 (units)," Pearson said. "We believe we could fit right around 100 to 110. That would facilitate building of (18) units for One Steamboat Place."
Burden said his company still will go forward with plans to build four to five employee units on site at One
Pearson said a typical affordable unit might come in at about 970 square feet. However, his company tentatively plans to build affordable units of several sizes to meet the needs of people in different financial circumstances.
Resort Ventures West would like to complete the affordable units within 12 to 15 months of the start of construction. That would allow it to obtain its certificate of occupancy in time to fulfill the housing requirements for Trailhead Lodge (anticipated construction period of about 22 months) and One Steamboat Place.
Pearson said he also hopes to begin a discussion with City Council to develop contingency plans for the affordable units. He would like to have a backup strategy in case the market does not respond to the deed-restricted units. Eligibility for the affordable housing would be tied to the median income of the community.
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