Former law office receives a face-lift

Boat House Pub would continue Yampa Street trend

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— The evolution of Yampa Street into a downtown restaurant district is poised to continue with the news that the new owners of The Boat House at 609 Yampa plan to build a pub on the site.

For many years, the small building has served as a law office.

Designer Steven Eggleston of SCE Studio has submitted an application to transform the building into a two-story restaurant/bar with a dwelling unit on the third floor. Eggleston's clients are Dennis Frank and Howard Ulep of Annapolis, Md. Eggleston said the two men do not have previous experience in the restaurant/bar business.

"The story is that Howard wanted to build a pub that he'd like to spend time in," Eggleston said.

Frank, who is a critical care physician, said he has been looking for years to find the appropriate site in Steamboat where he could create a casual pub.

"I've owned a condo at The Lodge since 1988," Frank said. "We come there two to three times in the winter months and for months in the summer. I consider myself almost a local."

The pub would be built on a small lot - less than one-tenth of an acre - that borders the Yampa River and overlooks the ski slopes of Howelsen Hill. It is zoned for commercial property.

The outlet of Butcherknife Creek is separated from the eastern property boundary by a narrow strip of city property. The neighboring property to the west is occupied by Steamboat Real Estate Inc. The Boat House is just west of the Fifth Street Bridge.

The Boat House was originally approved by the city in 1993. Developer Erick Glanz used the one-story building as his law office. However, the original plan has always carried with it a vested approval to add a second story and complete a Victorian-style structure.

Senior City Planner Jonathan Spence said Frank and Ulep could pursue completion of the original building plan. However, they have something else in mind.

"We're trying to embrace the history of Routt County," Eggleston said. His elevation drawings illustrate a building that resembles a tall barn with a long shed roof. A modest tower is topped with windows and a cupola.

Tentative exterior building materials call for reclaimed, weathered barn wood.

Interior drawings reflect a horseshoe-shaped bar on the main level with a kitchen and restaurant seating on the second level. A second-story deck overlooking the river would also create a covered-seating area on the river level.

Spence confirmed that the building is sited above the 100-year flood plain.

Frank said when he and his wife glimpsed the backyard of the Boat House and the view of Howelsen, they realized they had found the right spot.

"I see the total revitalization of downtown Steamboat and Yampa Street," during the next few years, he said.

The two partners want to create a very casual restaurant that definitely won't emphasize fine dining.

"I don't want to be in competition with Antares," Frank said. "I want it to be a place where you and your co-workers can have a cocktail and a light snack."

Spence said the developers are seeking a variance from the city's water body setback regulations - the second story deck protrudes into the setback. However, planning staff may recommend the city grant the request because the developers are choosing to build something more contemporary than the Victorian building described in the vested approval.

In addition, Spence said, city code calls for the third story to be stepped back from the second-story elevation. But, when Eggleston produced drawings reflecting the change, the building wasn't as attractive, Spence said. Accordingly, he may recommend approval of that variance.

"This is a fun little project," Spence said. "We expect that development patterns will be different when we start talking about the water side."

He expects the city will talk to the Boat House Pub developers about plans to enhance the small city parcel along Butcherknife into a pocket park. The city would also like to see the stream bank behind the Boat House made more attractive, Spence said.

Eggleston said his clients are interested in promoting the idea of a public boardwalk extending along the river.

Spence said the Boathouse, and some other redevelopment projects that could become public soon, will add to the much-needed 8-foot sidewalk along the south side of Yampa Street.

The Boat House Pub has just begun the city planning process. No public hearings have been held.

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