Marabou developers call time-out

Team members optimistic as ski area sale prompts recalculation of market

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The level of finish and furnishings at the Marabou "mountain camp" lounge at the base of the ski area are indicative of what owners can expect at community buildings at the ranch.

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Courtesy photo

Guest cabins at Marabou will be built among mature cottonwood trees. Developer Jeff Temple said the ranch would adhere to sustainable building practices including the use of solar and wind-powered electricity. Homeowners who agree to follow sustainable practices will be offered a $10,000 incentive.

— The developers of Marabou Ranch luxury subdivision west of Steamboat Springs have responded to the pending sale of the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. by temporarily withdrawing about 40 home sites from the market and accelerating construction of community buildings.

"We feel that it's fantastic news," development team member Jeff Temple said of the pending ski area sale. All of the things coming together will "trigger some price adjustments for us, it's just a question of how much."

Marabou is a sprawling ranch of 1,800 acres bordering the Elk River. The developers, Elk River Partners, have Routt County's approval to create 62 homesteads in a land preservation subdivision that keeps large parcels of ranchland intact. The community will continue to employ a ranch manager, harvest hay and raise grass-fed beef.

Thus far, DMB Real Estate of Scottsdale, Ariz., representing the developers, has sold 17 lots at prices ranging from about $1.8 million to $5 million.

DMB's escrow coordinator in Steamboat Springs, Steve Drain, said aggregate sales at Marabou Ranch have reached $40.4 million and that figure does not include three of the 17 lots, which are committed to partners in the development. Another handful of lots are expected to close within the next week or two.

Temple said sales of homesteads were exceeding the development team's expectations and the holidays represented an opportunity to call a timeout and reassess the market.

"We're feeling very, very positive," Temple said. "We've had some interaction with (representatives of Fortress and Intrawest) that some people may have not had, and it's more positive than we had hoped."

Temple said he and principals Mark Hall and Jeff Jepson sat down to envision the best scenario for Marabou going forward. They decided that spending the money necessary to complete the community buildings at Marabou Ranch on an accelerated timetable better represented the ideal. The intent is to have the improvements complete when prospective buyers arrive in the Yampa Valley during the summer months, which are most critical to land sales.

"We're in a full-court press to get all of the vertical (building construction) complete by June," he said.

The general contractor at Marabou is TCD of Steamboat.

Drain said road construction as well as construction on the equestrian barn, lodge compound and other buildings is proceeding throughout the winter. Temple said the theater and spa would be complete in June. Work on mountain biking trails will resume April 1. Work on trout habitat improvements to the Elk River is proceeding during the difficult winter months.

Temple said the sale of a homestead for $5 million to a family trust based in the Seattle area last fall had symbolic - as well as monetary - significance for the developers.

"That's breaking new ground for Steamboat," he said.

Records kept by Routt County reflect sales of $2.4 million, $2.75 million, $3.55 million and $3.95 million, for example.

Drain said Marabou's sales team continues to host tours of the ranch this month, even as the homesteads officially remain off the market. DMB plans to reintroduce the lots in February when the ranch will host an extended winter festival, including parties and concerts, for prospective buyers.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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