Brown deal may trigger boom in west Steamboat



Meg Wortman


The large parcel of land west of Steamboat Springs owned by Mary Brown recently was sold to Danny Mulcahy for $24.6 million. The land development presents a unique opportunity to expand the housing market.

— Scott Martin says he and his family decided a year ago they wanted to move to Steamboat. New development on the west side of the city could provide them that opportunity.

"It's a chance to have a business and a home in the same community, and to be able to do that without taking out multiple mortgages and overextending myself" said Martin, who lives in San Clemente, Calif., with his wife and three young children.

Martin is hopeful affordable homes will be built in Steamboat West by the new controllers of 700 acres of developable land that has been identified as the growth corridor for Steamboat. Martin said he and his wife want to move here because there are good schools for their children, they like the atmosphere of a small town and they want to open a business.

"For us, it seems like an awesome opportunity," Martin said Friday. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens with all this."

'A tremendous opportunity'

There are other families such as the Martins who want to live in Steamboat, and the development of potentially between 1,100 and 2,600 homes makes moving here a possibility.

"It's going to present a tremendous amount of opportunity for people who are dying to get into this market but can't," said Pam Vanatta of Prudential Steamboat Realty. "We know the demand is there."

Vanatta and Chad Fleischer facilitated the recent $24.6 million sale of 540 acres that used to be owned by Steve Brown and Mary Brown to Danny Mulcahy and his partners, who want to develop the property in line with the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan, a master plan for the area.

"There is a gap in the community right now with housing," said Mulcahy, adding that initial planning and market analysis currently is being done for the new development.

It likely will be at least two years before the first homes are built, he said. Attainable homes would be a key component of the first phase of the development, in which 20-percent affordable housing is mandated.

The city has some leverage when it comes to how Mulcahy can develop the property. The land currently is outside city limits, and the city would have to approve development plans to annex the land into the city.

The addition of between 1,100 and 2,600 homes during the next one or two decades will have a large impact on city services, which currently serve about 7,000 residences in Steamboat. Traffic also will have to be addressed.

"It will have a huge impact on our way of life," said city councilman Loui Antonucci, who also is a Steamboat realtor with Old Town Realty. "They have to put a plan together. They have to come to the city."

Growth badly needed

There also is the question of what effect the additional new homes will have on the Steamboat real estate market in the short and long term, and how long it will take for new homes to be purchased.

Wells Fargo banker Wade Gebhard thinks it is about time development occurred west of Steamboat.

"It would have been nice if it happened five years ago, but better late than never," Gebhard said.

The greatest restraints for an ongoing robust economy in Steamboat are the labor pool and the availability of housing on all levels - rental, affordable and market rate - Gebhard said.

"It's all levels of labor from entry level all the way to executive," he said.

Steamboat West could go a long way in addressing both a labor shortage and lack of housing that can be obtained by the people working in Steamboat, Gebhard said.

Impact of new inventory

Skyrocketing home prices have been the result of a limited supply and high demand.

"Year after year, we continue to have less real estate for sale," said Doug Labor, broker owner of Buyer's Resource Real Estate.

Labor also is the statistician for the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.

Homes in Steamboat West should take pressure off the rest of the market, Labor said, but what that will do to prices and appreciation rates is the million-dollar question. His research, however, shows demand will continue to be strong for the Steamboat market.

"Demand will stay strong and prices will continue to go up in Steamboat, but this will help produce opportunities," Labor said. "It might slow down the rapid rates of appreciation we have seen in the entry-level housing."

It is difficult to predict how much of an effect it will have, not knowing the prices, Labor said. Market demand will always be higher in town and with properties located closer to the Steamboat Ski Area.

"If anyone had a choice, they would want to be right in town," Labor said.

Mulcahy said he believes the demand for the housing market in Steamboat will "keep going nuts," but "prices will stabilize in the market."

Once the land is annexed, Mulcahy predicts activity could cool from speculators and people buying property purely for an investment.

With new inventory within city limits, Labor said, there could be an effect in the Stagecoach and Hayden markets. It also could impact the property in the subdivisions that currently exist on the west side of town, such as the Silver Spur subdivision, where Mountain Valley Bank banker Mike Larson lives. Silver Spur is directly west of the property Mulcahy plans to develop.

"Everybody worries that a new large subdivision of houses will decrease the value of their home, but I don't think that will happen," Larson said. "I think it enhances the viability of Steamboat."

Lots in Silver Spur and the Heritage Park subdivision sold out quickly originally, and demand likely has only gotten stronger.

"The success we've seen with those two projects will probably be compounded because the market has gotten so much stronger," Labor said.

The success of Steamboat West hinges on the developers designing it correctly, and there likely would be some amenities that will benefit those already living in west Steamboat, Larson said.

"If they put a good mix of housing in, it will benefit west Steamboat," he said.

He expects the trail system will be expanded, and he hopes there will be ample open space.

"I would like to see a couple ball fields devoted to local kids," Larson said.

Colorado Group Realty broker owner Joy Rasmussen said city planners, city officials and the developer have a tough road ahead of them, but filling in the west side should be beneficial for the entire city.

"We are going to be a more attractive place that will draw people in," Rasmussen said.

- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail


JustAsking 10 years, 1 month ago

Will the city council realize that along with affordable housing their needs to be "affordable shopping?"

Do they acknowledge that nearly every local drives to Silverthorne, Denver, Ft. Collins several times a year to shop for things they either can't get or are much more expensive here than in other places?

Do they realize that restricting "affordable shopping" to one already busting at the seams Walmart is really not serving the local public?

Can they understand that in their zeel to "preserve" downtown Steamboat and save us from "becoming another Vail" that housing is only one componet that must be addressed? Do they know how many locals sales tax dollars are going from here to the other areas?

Just maybe it's time to realize that "housing" a local labor market is not enough. "Formula stores" exist because that is where "real people" shop.

Go ahead and "preserve" downtown Steamboat with Aspen Glow and the other $1,000 per square foot projects, but recognize that the real need exists for some "big box" and "formula stores" even if they need to be hidden from the tourists behind some trees on the west end!


another_local 10 years, 1 month ago

Just asking, What exactly do you think the city can do about affordable shopping? You want Ken and Susan to open stores with low prices for you and run them like they want to build houses?



JustAsking 10 years, 1 month ago

Dear "Another",

How do you get from "recognize that the real need exists for some "big box" and "formula stores" even if they need to be hidden from the tourists behind some trees on the west end!" to thinking that Ken and Susan should open stores?

The point is that the city council needs to recognize that limiting successful national chain stores from the west end hurts the very group they are trying to "help." Full time residents with jobs here.

Tourists aren't going to a west end to shop at a Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens or any of the other "big box" or "formula stores" but those are exactly the types of stores that locals drive to Denver, etc. to shop.

Yes, Steamboat is not the "old Steamboat". The fact is that the economy here is totally dependant on tourists and becoming more so every year. If you want a reliable labor force to support the industry the goods and services they require can't be 3 hours away just because the city council thinks these businesses somehow are contrary to their vision.


baseballforever 10 years, 1 month ago

This project is the death of Steamboat Springs. Traffic, house value, and smog will all be affected. Many people bought in Silver Spur, Heritage Park etc to be outside the hustle and bustle and to see open spaces. This is all being taken away from us. Where are the jobs to support the army of families this development wants to bring in? Las Vegas was ruined in five years due to over building. The housing market was stable prior to over development. This developer prides himself on building in Vegas he was part of the problem and now he is moving to do the same to Steamboat, over build, drive down the market and drive out the people who moved here for a better life. Gangs and crime have continued to grow in Las Vegas because of the "affordable" housing that became available to people from California. This is a major catastrophe. I can't believe that a long time member of the community would open their arms to this kind of building. Greed, drives people I guess. They can move out and move on once the damage is done. No wonder people in the west are selling now.


another_local 10 years, 1 month ago

My point, JustAsking, is that I do not think that government should be directing or managing the kind of businesses that open. I certainly do not think that Ken and Susan should be involved. Perhaps I misread your first post. I thought you were advocating for intervention to bring specific kinds of business to town which I regard as every bit as misdirected as keeping them out.

The current discussions regarding formula businesses are not about restricting affordable shopping or even preventing formula business from coming to town. The emphasis is on how they present themselves if they are going to be here.

There is nothing stopping formula business from being here today and they do not seem to waiting at the city limits to get in.


MC 10 years, 1 month ago

Wal-Mart Supercenter is about to break ground in Craig and our community will gladly take those shopping dollars that those of you in Routt don't seem to want in your community. I cannot see the problem with big-box or formula stores as Steamboat lost it's rustic charm years ago. What are you trying to preserve? It does not exist anyway so why the outcry? Here in MC we are not afraid to build, and it does not seem to matter as to what. So come on over to Moffat County and spend those dollars, we welcome it.


bcpow 10 years, 1 month ago

Superstores? How about a bar that I don't have to drive to. Yes I can ride my bike into town but 40 can be a little scary from the deuce. And since the bus won't pick me up I will buy a beer from Arctic and sit on the porch, not supporting downtown establishments. I still shed a tear every once and a while for the loss of the Riverbend. I hear whisperings of the things to come and the question is...what are you going to do?


inmate2007 10 years, 1 month ago

bcpow, Riding a bicycle while intoxicated is illegal, so is walking in SS. So not only are you doing the safest drinking, you're also doing the only drinking City Council approves of.

And to think some council member's made their fortunes pushing cocktails and beer.


Matthew Stoddard 10 years, 1 month ago

Either way now, if you are downtown, you MUST go to a bar for alcohol since there are no longer any liquor stores downtown. I'm not including Stremel's for 3.2 beer. In fact, since Jim Cook owns that building now, I am betting it becomes part of his Riverwalk since that will be just below Stremel's. That will leave only 1 gas station on Lincoln Ave. thru downtown. I see downtown sales tax revenues dropping for the next few years, overall. Gas & Liquor were the 2 saving graces in the + column everytime you see the printed tax revenues for downtown.


another_local 10 years, 1 month ago

The only things that held Walgreens out were connected to the building proposed not the tenant. The developer was proposing things that were not acceptable. If the building had been 12,000 square feet instead of 13,000 or if Walgreens had leased what is now Staples they would be already.

I know there were some community alliance knuckleheads ranting against Walgreens but that is not why they did not come here.


inmate2007 10 years, 1 month ago

Kielbasa, couldn't your take a bus to Central park or the West end (I stop at AppleJacks when I'm on the frontrange) before you had a drink? Or are you pointing out that downtown has gone dry unless you want/can afford to pay bar prices?

I remember when SS had more bars then Utah, now it seem we now have more Mormons.


kingsride 10 years, 1 month ago

"I remember when SS had more bars then Utah, now it seem we now have more Mormons."

Inmate; I love the quote


Matthew Stoddard 10 years, 1 month ago

Inmate- I don't drink, actually. I was just saying that bars are the only way to get alcohol if you are downtown, without going a couple miles away.


corduroy 10 years, 1 month ago

baseballforever says: "This developer prides himself on building in Vegas he was part of the problem and now he is moving to do the same to Steamboat, over build, drive down the market and drive out the people who moved here for a better life. Gangs and crime have continued to grow in Las Vegas because of the "affordable" housing that became available to people from California."

So essentially all of us that can't afford a $500,000 home are in gangs and are criminals.. Wow, that's just a really really bad assumption. The Steamboat working class is being pushed farther and farther out of town, what we don't pay for in housing costs, we have to make up in gas. Someone posted a few months ago about how the workers should all live outside of town until they can save up enough to buy a house.. when they retire.. Which I think is just appaling. So we want Steamboat to only be for seniors.. what happened to the family Steamboat we came to know and love?


inmate2007 10 years, 1 month ago

Sorry guys but that's not my quote. I got it from a bumper sticker/T-shirt (the memory fades as you age) that used to annoy the chamber. If you can find the old print shop owners (some are still around) they have even better ones, real digs at the past arrogance/business climate in town, which we seem doomed to repeat.

I truly find it amazing how many ignore the past. What's the quote,"Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it". If that's true Routt County has a very interesting future but it might not be quickly profitable.

Who remembers "The last one out of town turn off the lights!", or Neil Bush's role in Colorado finance ?


id04sp 10 years, 1 month ago


I am one of those who posted that people should live out of town (or out of state) until they have enough money to move to a resort town. It's an "inconvenient truth."

I worked for 20 years before I moved to Routt County and bought my first house. It was not in the city limits. My current house is in North Routt, and it was built for about $120k total just after CR-129 was paved.

I'm familiar with feeling resentful towards people who got in before I did, especially those who never had to serve in the military and were never faced with the draft. They moved in when they were in their early twenties, got jobs with some steady local employer, bought a house in Steamboat II and settled down to spend the next 50 years in the Rockies.

Ooh, also, I remember being resentful towards the trust funders whose parents had made it possible for them to screw around at bartender and waiter jobs and also live in Steamboat and look forward to the next 50 years in the Rockies.

I think it's very true that if you don't have to work for it, it doesn't mean much to you. I appreciate what I have, and what I built for myself, much more than any of the trust-funders appreciate what they have. It was easy for them. Big deal, huh?

I don't want to deny you the chance to live in Steamboat. The thing is, you already have the same chance I had, and probably a better chance, because you didn't spend 12 years of your life paying the government back for your education like I did. You could have put your nose to the grindstone in some big city, gotten ahead, bought property that appreciated in the meantime (because you didn't have somebody else telling you to move 4 times in 12 years) and come out to Steamboat at the age of 30 and bought your way into town.

People who say they should be able to buy something affordable in Steamboat just because they WANT it are even worse than the trust funders. Why? Because they don't have the money, and also, don't understand why they should be required to pay the market rate. That's pretty much the same as expecting trust-funder benefits without any effort at all by anyone in your own family.

When I first moved to Routt County, I looked at a nice house up on the hill in Hayden. I should have bought it, and if I had, I'd still be living in it. That house would be closer to Mr. Werner than the place I have now.

People have somehow gotten the idea that they can slide through school, get some kind of job, get married, have kids, and DESERVE a house in a high-end real estate market JUST BECAUSE!

You have to play the hand you were dealt. People who are not complaining about the "affordable" housing shortage either put in the effort to buy anyway, or moved elsewhere to have a decent life. Complaining without doing one of the above will not put you in a house anywhere, much less in Steamboat.


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