Our View: Keeping it real

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— We're impressed with the creative, two-pronged approach Steamboat Springs City Council and interim City Manager Wendy DuBord have taken to reshaping the future of the Iron Horse Inn.

We haven't forgotten that many of the current council members were opposed to the purchase of the motel by the previous council at the end of October 2007. Plans to remodel the property to provide employee housing were vague at the time.

In the wake of the 2007 City Council election, there was consternation about what to do with the unwanted "gift" left behind by the last council.

Now, the new council is launching on a new path that will get the city out of the property management business while preserving the original intent of housing city employees and other members of the community's workforce.

In the short term, council has signed a management contract with Resort Group/Mountain Resorts, LLC, allowing the lease of efficiency apartments to employees at favorable rates. At the same time, it substantially reduces the deficit on the indebtedness on the $4.05 million purchase of the former motel.

For the longer term, council is on track to identify a private development partner that might start fresh on the prime piece of real estate that borders the Yampa River Core Trail.

The city has requested that developers interested in participating in the redevelopment submit their qualifications. Nine have taken that step. They include local developers and others from Colorado's Front Range.

Among those showing interest are firms with demonstrable track records for building affordable housing projects where there has been a premium on fitting livable homes into tight sites.

The next step is for the city to assemble a committee, including a number of citizens, to evaluate the nine development entities and select four or five to submit more descriptive proposals of what they might build on the site.

We realize that likely, part of the reason developers are interested in the project is because they could ask the city to provide all or part of the $4 million land value to the ultimate product. But isn't that akin to what the city is asking the private sector to do with its affordable housing requirements?

DuBord told us the city has been able to hire full complements of parks and transit workers this summer, thanks largely to its ability to offer adequate housing at the Iron Horse. If they work for the city, they work for all of us.

As we push into the middle of the 21st century in Steamboat Springs, the cost of doing business in the public and private sectors will include providing access to reasonable housing.

The return on that investment will be the preservation of an intact community with residents from varying socio-economic backgrounds.

Think of it as a real town.

Comments

Steve Lewis 6 years, 1 month ago

It would be smart to first establish the City's overarching 2 or 3 goals with this property.

In my opinion, those goals should be entirely about meeting the community's projected needs.

Municipalities are supposed to get these decisions right. Community needs are straightforward to project.

Short term profit should NOT be one of those goals. Short term profit can easily be seen as a big mistake within a 20 year plan.

Partnering with a developer whose goals end 3 years hence should be approached carefully. 10-20 years from now will the City and its citizens be pleased with the status of this parcel?

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