Floridian Ron Meredith, right, makes a purchase at the Steamboat Trading Co. in Ski Time Square on Monday afternoon. The city of Steamboat Springs is sponsoring and administering a base area retail study to identify the amount, scale and mix of retail and other commercial space needed to accommodate demand at the ski base.

Photo by Brian Ray

Floridian Ron Meredith, right, makes a purchase at the Steamboat Trading Co. in Ski Time Square on Monday afternoon. The city of Steamboat Springs is sponsoring and administering a base area retail study to identify the amount, scale and mix of retail and other commercial space needed to accommodate demand at the ski base.

Study to pinpoint retail needs

Results could shape development reviews at base area


— To better prepare for widespread redevelopment at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area, the city of Steamboat Springs is sponsoring and administering a base area retail study.

City Planner Gavin McMillan said the study costs about $30,000 and, at the strong suggestion of the city, is being paid for by some of the major owners of commercial property to be redeveloped at the base area.

The purpose of the study is to identify the amount, scale and mix of retail and other commercial space that is necessary to accommodate demand and create a lively and active atmosphere at the ski base.

"In starting to review all these projects, there's talk of how much commercial space is appropriate," McMillan said Monday. "This will be a tool to help us get closer to what the codes envision already."

David Baldinger Jr. of Steamboat Village Brokers said the study's results will be useful.

"It's probably a great idea," he said Monday. "Whether you're in the real estate business or the retail business, we've often debated whether we have too much, not enough or just the right amount of retail at the base area."

While he is excited for the study's results, Baldinger said he already has an idea of what its conclusion will be.

"My gut feeling is about what we have now or less would make the retail environment more vibrant," Baldinger said. "Also, if it's laid out better, it would be a lot more vibrant."

Baldinger isn't alone in guessing that the base area already has enough retail - if not too much. The One Steamboat Place development under construction has a very small commercial component.

"We didn't want to compete against already existing, established retail spaces," One Steamboat Place project director Jim Wells said Monday. "It's a tough business, especially when it's seasonal."

Redevelopment plans for Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge reveal the same hesitancy to invest too much in commercial property at the base area. The Atira Group, acting in partnership with Washington-based Cafritz Interests, plans to demolish the two properties, which total 234,449 square feet, and replace them with a project totaling more than 1 million square feet. Despite that increase, Atira proposed in its pre-application to the city to decrease the amount of commercial space from 58,131 square feet to 46,578. The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission expressed some reservations about that mix.

"We're really looking for the quality, not quantity," said Jane Blackstone, an Atira development manager. "It was clear we needed to provide some rationale, some support for our commercial component. : This research study will really ground our development plan review."

Baldinger said Steamboat is unique when compared to other resort towns because of its strong downtown shopping experience.

"I think the mountain area may need less than other ski resorts," he said.

Whatever the study reveals, Blackstone said The Atira Group and other property owners such as Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Sheraton Steamboat Resort will work together to deliver the right amount of commercial space in the right areas.

"We need to look at the outcome and collaborate collectively," Blackstone said.

Economic and Planning Systems, a land-economics consulting firm with offices in Denver, is conducting the study. The company has done similar studies in resorts such as Snowmass Village, Telluride and Winter Park, and it recently completed a broader economic development study for all of Steamboat at a cost of $68,101. The company apparently already has started work on its current study; Wells, Blackstone and Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond said Monday that they had been contacted by consultants hoping to interview them.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com


bcpow 9 years, 1 month ago

We need more tshirt shops, native american jewelry stores and expensive furniture stores because this is the stuff I look for on vacation. Oh...and 5 more starbucks.


addlip2U 9 years, 1 month ago

The city can not dictate what businesses are to be located at the base area, on a PRIVATE property.

The city has other pressing business to take care of that we the tax payers are paying for.


summerbird 9 years, 1 month ago

Consultants - - - just below snake oil salesmen! Another waste of money. What about common sense, a commodity that S. S. residence are short on! The good citizens also have a high tolerance for looking foolish.


ijustlookhi 9 years, 1 month ago

great.... the city paying for the developers market research...


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

What a waste of money. Another study for what? $30,000 on top of the recent $68,000 on top of what else? All of these studies are useless and un-used. In the end this is the private sector. Will the city now "sponsor" or open the kind of retail that the study suggests if nobody steps up to open it? This has been the direction in housing.

Developers will lease or sell to the qualified people that step up. Businesses that open with assortments the customer does not want will fail. Businesses that offer what the customer is seeking will thrive and expand.

In the end, this is another study that will gather dust in a file drawer and a waste of money; it's findings irrelevant, it's recommendations unenforceable.

Folks, this is not rocket science.


2007 9 years, 1 month ago

I would hope they would look at a couple of factors. -Who are the customers, their target audience? -What do these customers buy now?
-What do people want to buy, but cannot find? -What is the purpose of the base shopping area? Do they want to provide food, drink, ski rental etc for skiiers, skiing that day or do they want to create a destination shopping area for people who are not skiing for the day.

I would love for someone to look at the retail in the town as well. There are lots of ski equiptment/accessory stores, which is fine. But there are too many tee shirt and trinket stores. Too many Steamboat-themed articles. Some people may want a souvenir, but lots of people with time on their hands, and money in their pockets wander through the stores and would be willing to buy more if everything from store to store didn't look so much the same.


Stephen Blinkenberg 9 years, 1 month ago

I always like to paruse the Real Estate Offices, especially those that have two or three year old listings in the window. No better way to spend Vacation Time.


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

The story and the discussion address the question how much retail is the right amount. Currently, some people think there is enough or perhaps too much retail in the base area. I have little doubt this perception is driven by the vacancies and recent history.

For the last several years the owners of Ski Time Square have made it clear that the plan was to level the place. They made this clear by not renewing leases for longer periods. What business owner is going to move in to the area or even invest in an ongoing enterprise when it is plain that the time horizon is measured in months rather than decades?

The lack of dynamic retail and restaurant business in the base has more to do with the looming demise of Ski Time Square than it does with the potential of the area. The vibrancy of any commercial district depends on its businesses. Each business is mutually dependant on all the other businesses nearby; my traffic is your potential new customer, your customer is my opportunity. As businesses have chosen to close and others have let the paint fade, the entire area has become less than inviting, less interesting and less successful.

I have little doubt that if a re-developed Ski Time Square has attractive retail spaces and restaurants, good access and parking and hopefully the opportunity for ownership of some commercial spaces, you will see a very competitive and interesting destination emerge.

The market will determine over time what business mix is the right one regardless of what any study says. Landlords and developers will do what they feel is in their interest even if a study says they should do something else. It is not the city's responsibility to determine what kind of business is needed and it is incapable of achieving whatever some study suggests in any case. So, what have we got here?

The city told the developers that they would get some "warm fuzzies" if they stepped up and paid for the study. The developers said "why not?" Spending that money is an easy decision to make; in the scale of the money being spent, $30K for a little goodwill at city hall is money well spent. Well spent not because the study has value, but simply for the good will.


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

just look, read it again. The city strong armed the developers into paying for a useless study that the city wanted.


Terry Noble 9 years, 1 month ago

Personally I feel the money would be better spent on controlling crime and rampant drunkeness up there so our guests can have a safe environment.

Basically if you can afford to be there you should already know these things concerning retail business. The formula is supply=demand (which is the results of many decades of studies all over the country).

Get involved people, your children are having to do without because we are funding too many studies (often the same ones, and these studies are out of date the day after they are completed).


scooter 9 years, 1 month ago

one more of us who wonders why the city thinks it is ok to spend our money on all kinds of silliness.....There are too many things to list that our money could be better spent on.


SilverSpoon 9 years, 1 month ago


Internet sales cuts out the middle man, and all the high paying retail jobs, and saves the end consumer $$$.
Will the study reflect that the internet makes "shops" less useful?

The study should recommend a new and improved Lupos. With steel beams that can withstand a packed house jumping in unison that hip hop music causes


STEMBOATwannabe 9 years, 1 month ago

At least there seems to be less t shirt stores than in Vail. That is a huge plus for Steamboat.


blackthroatedwind 9 years, 1 month ago

bcpow... right on! I love t-shirt shops. They're so much more useful than stores like Boggs Hardware. And Starbucks is so, like, awesome! I'd much rather get a $3 cup of coffee that comes in sizes I can't pronounce! This town is like a university. Everything needs to be studied to the gnats a**. Its called micro-managing. And in the end, we'll still end up looking just like Aspen, Breckenridge, and a little bit like Vail, I guarantee it!


Alvin Wolff 9 years, 1 month ago

Looks more and more like Southpark all the time.


middleclass 9 years, 1 month ago

I agree with AmebaTost, why bother to provide galleries, shops and stores without considering adequate parking. There's a percentage of people from the front range who come up this way for the week with their vehicles. And plans for these new projects are lacking parking necessary for any increase in business traffic. Don't forget us locals, I like to drive and shop.


424now 9 years, 1 month ago

Ahh, the city strongly suggested that this survey be done. Who will administer the survey? Who is getting paid $30,000.00 to administer it?



BoatMaster 9 years, 1 month ago

This is a joke and a complete waste of money of the citizens of Steamboat.

Ski Time Square is a private developement, therefore the owners should pay for all studies and the tax payers should pay for none.

If City Council votes for this then vote them out. What the heck are they wasting money for a survey of a private enterprise for !!!


inmate2007 9 years, 1 month ago

This isn't a joke, city council has it right. We need a business district designed by surveys, consultants and committee. That way it will be unique, charming and quaint, just the idealist place everyone in the world will want to experience.

I wonder if they will be able to integrate the aspect of Heritage tourism...........................


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

Boat Master, read the story again. No money of the citizens of Steamboat was spent.... but it is a waste of money and a useless study never-the-less.


ColoradoNative 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh if only we all showed up to City Council to voice our opinions instead of stating them on the pilot forum.

Fix the freaking parking situation and let the entrepreneurs decide if they want to start a business on the mountain.

A business that fills a niche will thrive. A business that doesn't will fold.

Cost for this advice=Zero to the tax payer


ColoradoNative 9 years, 1 month ago

Ok you are right local. The first time I read it I thought that some of the cost was being paid by the tax payers.

Either way the developers are speculating. That is what they do. They have a general idea from investors, business owners etc who might step into their space but ultimately if a developer has a willing customer ready to sign a lease that's all it takes.

The developers should not be forced to pay the 30k. The city is out of line again.


bloggyblog 9 years, 1 month ago

the way blog interpreted the story, the company(economic and planning systems) did two consulting jobs. the base area retail study($30,000), which the atira group paid for and the broader economic study($68,101), which blog thinks came out of our pockets.


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

I think blog is right about the 68K. (Another waste of money) My theory on the 30K is that the developers went ahead and paid in the interest of good will at city hall.

When developers have ready demand they will be selective about who they lease to and give some thought to the mix of businesses. When they are in a bind to collect rent, they will lease to any ready taker.


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