The City of Steamboat Springs is considering redeveloping the land where the Iron Horse Inn is located. The plan would maximize affordable housing but might also open the door for some commercial development, as well.

Photo by John F. Russell

The City of Steamboat Springs is considering redeveloping the land where the Iron Horse Inn is located. The plan would maximize affordable housing but might also open the door for some commercial development, as well.

Iron Horse to be redeveloped

City accepting applications of qualifications from developers


— City officials are entertaining the possibility of demolishing the Iron Horse Inn and rebuilding from the ground up.

The City of Steamboat Springs issued a request for qualifications on July 1 to developers, development teams or joint ventures interested in redeveloping the Iron Horse. It originally was purchased by the city in November 2007 in an effort to ensure availability of affordable housing for city employees. Its future now includes the possibility of complete renovation. That could mean a mix of rental and for-sale units combined with commercial or retail uses.

"Basically, we're saying, 'Here's a great parcel of land. If it was yours, how would you develop it?'" Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Monday.

The RFQ process precedes the request for proposal process, and the goal is to identify developers who are qualified to submit a proposal. DuBord said there are about 35 interested companies that have requested RFQ information, and she predicts there will be more before the July 24 deadline.

According to the RFQ, "The City wishes to redevelop the Iron Horse site into an affordable housing development that provides attractive, affordable work force housing which may be a mix of rental and for-sale units."

DuBord said the city is encouraging creativity from developers, and no redevelopment possibility has been ruled out.

Residential, commercial and retail uses such as day care and offices are encouraged in the RFQ, and the city urges a mix of housing types and income targets that includes at least 20 units for households below 80 percent of the area median income and a possible mix of affordable and market-priced residential units.

"We believe the site is currently being under-utilized," DuBord said. Based on the potential density for the site, the city possibly could double the number of units to more than 100. Currently, there are 53 units, and the city leases 11 of them to city employees. The remaining units are being used for long-term work force housing and nightly rentals. DuBord said at any given time, the city estimates it will need 10 to 20 of the units for city employees.

The city sought private-sector partnerships for the management of the inn earlier this year and awarded the contract to Resort Group. The plan was to use the Iron Horse for workforce housing only. Resort Group originally planned to take over management of the inn June 1, but the date was pushed back to Oct. 1 or Oct. 31 because "Resort Group felt they did not have time to gear up for the high summer demand," DuBord said in June.

"Yes, we are interested in the redevelopment aspect of the Iron Horse. It's part of why we took it on," Resort Group Vice President Tom Simmins, said Tuesday. He said he is envisioning better quality work force housing and more of it.

"We want to offer the total work force package," Simmins said, and he thinks that different unit types will allow them to do that. With leases that vary from 4 months to a year, he said they plan to supply housing for not just seasonal employees but also for families that need short-term housing while they find something more permanent.

Currently, rents at the Iron Horse range from $750 per month for an efficiency to $1,800 per month for a two-bedroom unit. Simmins said Resort Group will charge "what the market can bear" for rent.

"We're all in the business to make money, but we also want to make it palatable and not kill anyone on rent," Simmins said.

Just as the redevelopment plans for the Iron Horse are up in the air, so is the funding model to pay for it. The RFQ states that the city is willing to contribute the land and may be willing to consider other subsidies, joint funding, concessions and fee waivers. DuBord said she wasn't sure how the project would be funded and that it's up to the developers to propose funding ideas.

DuBord plans to select a committee to review qualification submissions and proposals.

After the committee identifies qualified applicants, the next step in the process is to review redevelopment proposals in August or September.

Although the RFQ says "The city would like to redevelop the site as soon as possible," DuBord said the city is not rushing the proposal process. The Steamboat Springs Workforce Housing Demand Analysis is due out in August, and the Routt County Housing Needs Assessment is due out this fall. DuBord said the results of the surveys will help identify work force and affordable housing needs in Steamboat and give the city and developers a better idea of how to redevelop the Iron Horse Inn.

DuBord predicted the earliest construction would begin on the Iron Horse is the summer 2010.

- To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 871-4243 or e-mail


beentheredonethat 8 years ago

"We believe the site is currently being under-utilized," DuBord said.



steamvent 8 years ago

So, all the new cabinetry and rehab work now going on at the Iron Horse is money well spent?

If the developers who have included affordable housing in their projects can't get enough takers who qualify, why is the City in that business? When realtors finally realize that their overpriced inventory isn't selling (and they have no income), we may have plenty of lower priced housing available. Funny how things come full circle, eh?


ColoradoNative 8 years ago

I said it many month ago. Demo the thing and build a massive parking garage underneath and affordable rental units on top.

If the bus service was improved it could serve as a park and ride and maybe keep some cars/traffic from downtown.


lmp3461 8 years ago

$750 per month for an efficiency??????? That's more than half my monthly income! How is this affordable housing????


Hammurabi 8 years ago

Still attempting to correct the toxic decisions that the previous council made!


BoatMaster 8 years ago

This is going to be great. It looks like they are doing renovation now as I saw cabinet boxes behind the building as I rode my bike by last week.

As soon as the renovations are complete they can begin the demolition for the new project. Ha Ha.

Anyway, it looks like this Council may be heading in the correct track by looking at alternatives for this project. Good Luck I hope it solves some housing problems.


Fred Duckels 8 years ago

Does the city have a mission statement? What gives them the right to compete with private business. Our business organizations are very quiet,possibly due to the fact that they are being subsidized by the city and are afraid to stir the pot.


rsssco 8 years ago

What happened when you made that point at the Council meeting last night Fred?


bfd 8 years ago

i smell jim cook lurking out there.


housebound 8 years ago

Previous council sneaking around and buying that building before they were ousted in a free election like a rogue state developing a weapon was immoral. I hope those guys realize that it will not be forgotten and their names will always carry that stigma. This council should realize that they can only perform damage control. Housing should be left to the private industry. Peope are waiting to build apartments because they do not want to compete with the city.


id04sp 8 years ago

Look back and see where the money went when this place was purchased. Look for connections between the seller and the people who made the decision to buy.

Might have to bring in a relative, or girlfriend, or somebody like that to hook it up.

In any case, people are NOT waiting to build apartments because they don't want to compete with the city. They are not going to build apartments because they can't make enough money to justify the hassles. They can do it in places like Denver where HUD funding kicks in, but up here? Not enough people who would qualify for HUD housing to justify it -- this town is too rich.


JustAsking 8 years ago

"We believe the site is currently being under-utilized,"...

and how about the trailer park?


Brian Watterson 8 years ago

"Currently, rents at the Iron Horse range from $750 per month for an efficiency to $1,800 per month for a two-bedroom unit. Simmins said Resort Group will charge "what the market can bear" for rent.

"We're all in the business to make money, but we also want to make it palatable and not kill anyone on rent," Simmins said."

$1,800 for a 2 bedroom apartment ? I presume there's also last month's rent plus a deposit. Is the City out of touch with the definition of "affordable" and "palatable" ?


thecondoguy1 8 years ago

This is a terrific spot for a 60 story 10,000 unit condo/mixed use development, put me and my friends down for 25 of um, please take your time building them................


mountaingirl33 8 years ago

bwat- Have you looked in the paper lately to see how much a two bedroom condo or townhome is going for these days? And just as a point of mention, most places do not include cable,trash,water,phone,electric- once you add that to even a slightly more affordable 2 bedroom at let's say $1,350 per month and add in those extra expenses on top of rent-You will quickly see that for the current express purpose of housing seasonal workers who come to town - this is a good deal for them-


StbtWatchmen 8 years ago

Affordable housing in Steamboat consists of a car, van, cardboard box or basement/garage stow-away! I agree with Fred Duckles. Is the city turning to "mafia" type tactics in business to accommodate? (Chuckle) We have graduated from becoming like Vail and Aspen to; we are like Aspen and Vail except, the people here are better! I'm glad I own and have 4 jobs! I feel bad for those who only have a single job with time to play and can't afford housing....NOT!

Condo-dude, Could we drill that high rise into the earth to go 60 stories down? The top floor would only show! (LOL)!


justathought 8 years ago

"Residential, commercial and retail uses".... More commercial and retail spaces will help the affordable housing problem how? Are you creating "affordable retail" and "affordable commercial" spacing too? How does the business owner qualify? Or are you just creating more retail and commercial so it will be necessary to create more affordable housing? Aaand, the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round.....


EfficientSolutions 8 years ago

Jim Cook??? Why would Jim Cook be involved?

City should sell one of the buildings and JV the other as development. Get their money out and purchase the Space Station so we can convert into a pocket park. Pubic restrooms, open the creek underneath etc.


SilverSpoon 8 years ago

This makes me sick. $7-million of our tax payer dollars(over the next 20 years plus interest 6.5%) to buy a crappy hotel that they will demolish? I think that the city has some questions which need to be answered: What relationship did the realtors involved in the sale have with the former or current council members? Who set the price for the hotel, and who decided that it was a GREAT deal? How can the city run around town like sub-prime speculators with the public's money? Why the heck do our city employees deserve housing over any other employee in town(sorry city employees, they are demo-ing your "affordable housing @ 1800/month WHAT A JOKE"!)? I hope the pilot digs deep to find answers, and i have no doubt that the certificate holders for the "iron horse loan" did everything they could to keep the purchase out of the public knowledge. I wouldn't be suprised if the "developer" set the deal up, who wouldn't want $7-million of free land that the city will demo for free. Peeeeeeeee-Yoooooooooooooo


Brian Watterson 8 years ago


Yes, I have seen recent rental prices, and think they're insane. On utilities you have a good point. I didn't pick up from the article that all utilities were included. However I still think if the City allows rentals to go for "what the market can bear", things will soon become unbearable, and they should change the term "affordable housing" to "available housing"


dave reynolds 8 years ago

years ago when i first moved here the goal was not to become asspen or vail..somewhere we lost are way and HELLO now we one on the city counsel understands affordable..why ..they are realators(or working for them)..they already own..or have six figure incomes..employers ann't afford to pay a wage liveable to their employees cause of there space seems to be an endless circle..when the trailor parks are gone..and it will happen..then Steamboat will be wondering where the heart and soul went..and who is going to clean my house for me


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