Redeveloping airport could cost nearly $30 million



Airplane mechanic Dan Ingram walks out of a hangar to work on a Cessna I82 plane based out of the Steamboat Springs Airport. A report released last week stated that it would cost between $20 and $30 million if the city decided to close the airport and redevelop the land where it is located.

Redevelopment costs

Preliminary financial implications of redeveloping Steamboat Springs Airport (in millions)

Demolish airside facilities $1.6

Demolish landside facilities $1.25

Extend/loop water service $0.575

Install water storage tank $1.05

Expand sewer system $6.125

Expand roadway capacity $1 to $5 a mile

Remediate site TBD

Hangar lease buyout $1 (or more)

Airport replacement/grant payback $10.41 to $12

Total $21.91 to $28.6

— Any redevelopment of the Steamboat Springs Airport for an alternative use would face daunting hurdles, not the least of which are costs that could approach nearly $30 million.

Consultants Matrix Design Group discussed the potential redevelopment of the airport in a recent presentation to the Steamboat Springs Airport Steering Committee and public.

Matrix was commissioned by the city to do a $100,000 study of alternate uses for the Steamboat Springs Airport, also known as Bob Adams Field. The final report is expected in February.

The airport sits on 276 acres on a plateau approximately 190 feet above the city. The property constitutes the northwestern section of the city's urban growth boundary. Alternative use options considered by Matrix include mixed-use development, industrial land, park and open space land and a potential sports facility to satisfy a request by Triple Crown, the sports tournament company that hosts baseball tournaments in Steamboat each summer.

Noting what a controversial political issue Triple Crown is, steering committee member Bill Jameson encouraged Matrix to abandon the consideration of a sports complex.

"You may have just gone nuclear," Jameson said.

The consultants noted that Steamboat's greatest market demands are for affordable housing and for mixed-use development similar to the Steamboat 700 project west of the city that is in its preliminary stages.

Whatever would replace the airport, Matrix has identified several challenges to redevelopment, including:

- Water pressure at the site is inadequate to support fire flow

- The presence of a former landfill site at the airport

- An already stressed road system

- The expensive demolition of airport facilities

Add to everything the expensive repayment of grants to the Federal Aviation Administration that would be required to close the airport, and Matrix estimates the preliminary financial implications of redevelopment to the city at $21.91 to $28.6 million.

"Clearly, they identify there's going to be a lot of expenses associated with reclaiming that land," Transportation Director George Krawzoff said. "In my opinion, it's still a mixed bag."

Krawzoff noted that the estimated costs mean the city would essentially be paying about $90,000 an acre for the land. That's approximately double what the developers of Steamboat 700 paid per acre for their development on an adjacent site.

Matrix noted that the city could argue that YVRA constitutes a replacement airport if Steamboat Springs Airport is closed. Using that logic, the city could take much of the money it would owe the FAA and transfer it to Routt County for use at YVRA. Krawzoff said keeping that money in the region is an appealing consideration.

"If that money just leaves the community, that's certainly a different story," Krawzoff said.

Matrix's study is being conducted among calls from some that the airport should be done away with. Critics claim the airport provides little value to the general public and only serves the needs of a privileged few; its city subsidies are too high; its economic benefits are greatly overstated; and it is redundant and unnecessary because Yampa Valley Regional Airport can accommodate all of the region's aviation needs.

Supporters say the airport benefits the city economically by serving local businesses and attracting high-end visitors.

Local aviator and Yampa Valley Airport Commission member Mike Forney said he was disappointed that Matrix's presentation didn't include any assessment of the economic value of the airport to the community. And since city subsidies are an oft-cited criticism of the airport, he also hoped to see those costs to the city quantified and compared to the ongoing costs that would be associated with the alternative uses.

"I hope the final report in February will have a lot more actionable information in it," Forney said.


QuitYerWhining 9 years, 6 months ago

But where will Smart Wool go???? After all of these years of paying taxes to subsidize the Great White Elephant and I wont be able to pay $15 for a pair of sox anymore? Now the city will spend 30 million to get the property back to developable state (for you non real estate types that means raw land with minimal infrastructure) WHACK!....thank you sir may I have another!!!


beentheredonethat 9 years, 6 months ago

anything other than the current airport would be a big improvement. as it now stands, the city taxpayers are made to pay for an amenity that only serves the richest users of the city. ask yourself, how many times have you used the airport since its existence? if you are like me, an ordinary worker, the answer is zero times. yet, my tax dollars are used to pay for it. this is a very, very bad deal for 99% of the citizens. i say, bite the bullet to correct a radical mistake of approving an airport and develop something will truly provide benefits to the entire community. the airplane owners can fly into yampa valley regional airport and commute just like everyone else.


elphaba 9 years, 6 months ago

(Bill) beentheredonethat - 30 million dollars is rather a large bullet for this small town- and Matrix didn't mention that it would require an Act of the US Congress to even allow the repayment. Time to give this one up.


id04sp 9 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, give it up. Costs too much. Too late to change anything. In 50 years the kids can do something else with it, or gosh, maybe have commercial service again when technology catches up with the short runway.

As for the water pressure issue, a water tower would solve that. The only impediment to building a water tower is the presence of an airport . . . .


beentheredonethat 9 years, 6 months ago

i notice neither one of you argued to keep the airport because it is a valuable amenity to the citizens of steamboat springs, who will continue to pay for something no one but some rich folks will ever use.

some current city council members voted for the airport construction. i wish they would stand up and try to defend their decision in public.


Vince arroyo 9 years, 6 months ago

In the last 30 years we the public have put at least close to 30 million in to the airport. Its was an old landfill at on time. lets take a real good look at this proposal .


oofcboy 9 years, 6 months ago

for 30 million dollars you could find flat land somewhere else besides who would get the feds off the cities back? maybe we could hire a firm to do another study on it and make it 3,256,000. dollars instead


elphaba 9 years, 6 months ago

hometown - You, nor the taxpayers of Steamboat, put 30 million into the airport - The improvements were funded by a tax on aviation fuel paid by aircraft owners across the US......


Zalobar 9 years, 6 months ago

This Airport thing is very interesting. Sometime in the recent past there was the idea that it should be sold to a private developer who could improve it and build homes around it so pilots could taxi their planes to private hangars attached to their homes. The rich need a playground just as much as the rest of us. As long as it isnt subsidised with my tax dollars, let them have it. Let them pour their dollars into it and operate it on their nickle. As long as it also allows public use for non member fliers as well. Getting it out of local govt hands is the best thing that can happen. As long as it is operated by our local govt. There will be issues.


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