Steamboat Springs residents Jenn Gallagher, left, and Julie Friese pick through beads while making jewelry Wednesday at Silver Lining in Torian Plum Plaza at Ski Time Square.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs residents Jenn Gallagher, left, and Julie Friese pick through beads while making jewelry Wednesday at Silver Lining in Torian Plum Plaza at Ski Time Square.

Base area needs boost

Draft study shows redevelopment is right remedy for slumping sales


— Planned redevelopment is on the right track to meet future lodging and commercial demands at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, which a study states is "not performing at industry standards" and is lagging behind downtown retail sales, even in the winter.

Base area stakeholders funded the Steamboat Springs Resort Base Area Retail Study, conducted earlier this year by Economic & Planning Systems consultants. The study - released as a draft last month - is intended to show the mix of retail and commercial space that would satisfy consumer demand and create a lively atmosphere at the base area, which is in a period of widespread construction and change.

The study states the base area's atmosphere is struggling in the transition.

"Retail at the base area is not performing at industry standards and is not performing as well as space in downtown Steamboat retail," the study reads. "The base area generated $29.7 million in annual retail sales, which was 9 percent of the city's retail sales total of $314 million in 2007."

Retail sales in downtown Steamboat Springs total $73.1 million annually, the study states, adding that downtown businesses average up to $350 in sales per square foot, "compared to $250 per square foot (on average) at the base area."

The difference in retail revenues between downtown and the mountain is largely linked to year-round sales, according to the study, which emphasizes a need for increased year-round attractions, including lodging and commercial growth, at the ski base.

While 80 percent of base area sales occur during the ski season, downtown accumulates 41 percent of its sales in the summer, compared to 38 percent in the winter and 21 percent in shoulder seasons.

A year-round focus at the base area already is in the works.

"The study backs up our plans," said Jane Blackstone, development manager for The Atira Group. Atira is redeveloping Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge.

The long view

The study's results are based on the planned expansion of lodging inventory throughout the next 10 years, as projects such as One Steamboat Place, base area redevelopment and the proposed redevelopment of Ski Time Square come to fruition.

"The study was a healthy exercise and will provide good guidance as we develop the base area," McMillan said Wednesday. He added that there had been a lot of discussion about the amount and mix of retail that would be best for the area, and that the study provides a good point of reference for future planning.

Blackstone said the study reinforced Atira's redevelopment plans with demographic information.

"The survey pointed out that Ski Time Square Drive should focus more on destination retail and dining experiences," Blackstone said, "and the Promenade should focus more on daytime activities like skiing and possibly some opportunities for entertainment venues."

A concern raised by David Baldinger Jr. of Steamboat Village Brokers is the rate at which commercial space is built. Baldinger worried that too much retail space would be added before the residential units were finished.

"I agree with the results in general, but I think it might be dangerous to build more commercial space before the residential units are there because there won't be enough demand," Baldinger said.

The study is a good place to start but it should serve as a guideline and not the absolute, said Chuck Porter, general manager for the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and member of the Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Commission. The URAAC plans to discuss the preliminary retail study results during a public meeting at Centennial Hall on Friday.

Economic & Planning Systems is a land-economics consulting firm with offices in California and Denver. The firm has completed similar studies in Telluride and Winter Park and will present final results to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which acts as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, on July 1.

- To reach Kristi Mohrbacher, call 870-1376 or e-mail


Brian Smith 8 years, 10 months ago

I bet if we would have just left all of the old buildings, and done nothing to Ski Time square, the ratings would have climbed higher every year (People who spend thousands of dollars for vacation, love old out of date accommodation's)...sometimes, you have to take a step back before you move forward.


steamvent 8 years, 10 months ago

We went to the mountain last week and entered the path off of Apres Ski Way under the temporary arches to get to the gondola base. We had to walk through 100 feet of muck and mud to get to the gondola around the One Steamboat Place construction site. If you want people to spend money up there, then clean up your act!


paststudent 8 years, 10 months ago

It's a shame when you're trying to find shopping in Ski Times Square when all the retail space near Torian Plum is occupied by real estate offices. They need to get out of those prime retail spaces so the area can up revenue. Someone needs to do something about this NOW, not 5-10 YEARS.

LOCALS-go and shop up on the mountain. There are wonderful treasures up there. Take the bus; it's not hard to do.

I know the economy is in the dumps, but we are a community. We all have to help each other in whatever way we can. By ignoring retailers on the mountain, you are making things trickier for Steamboat establishments. What happens if they can't afford to keep their doors open? There's an evil catch 22 going on:

No one is on the mountain, so shops close up or close early. People then complain that nothing is open.


armchairqb 8 years, 10 months ago

I said it before & I will say it again: Steamboat shot themselves in the foot when they decided to close up Ski Time Square. If you think its bad now, just wait until everyone travels up here to go skiing & finds out that there are no reasonable places to eat a meal on the mountain (and if ther were they would have to wait for hours @ Slopeside to get a table) Just think, you spend an entire day skiiing, your tired, the kids are tired, & then you find out you gotta take a bus DOWNTOWN to grab a "quick" bite to eat. HA HA HA Downtown couldn't handle the overflow last year (over a 1 hr wait to get a table, and that's when you had 4 restaurants still open in Ski Time Square)And forget about nite-life. There just isn't anything up there anymore!!!! Just you wait Steamboat....not even a FREE BUS SYSTEM will save you now. We were once rated #4, then we dropped to #9, my bet is that we won't even make it to #20.


spukomy 8 years, 10 months ago

qb, You're right. There will be a lot of dissapointed tourists next winter. And with all the other skiing options in the country, why would they come back the following season. I think we are soon to lose a lot of our loyal, returning guests. And it will takes years to pull them back in, after all the construction is complete.


ColoradoNative 8 years, 10 months ago

PastStudent.....Could you name these great places to shop or dine on the mountain you are referring to? I don't really need a $300 deer horn lamp or a $100 dinner.


steamboatsprings 8 years, 10 months ago

David Baldinger is being disingenuous with his comments worrying about the commercial being built before the residential units at the base. He knows that there are no new planned or practical developments up at the base that are commercial only. They are all a level of commercial and then multiple floors of commercial above them so in every case the commercial and residential will come on at the same time. He just doesn't want competition. David and his buddy Doug Terry with his Ski Shop monopoly in Torian Plum have been doing there best to restrict competition in Ski Time Square through restrictive covenants and dummy leases granting exclusive uses for 20 years or more. Want to improve retail viability on that side of the mountain? Start with them. They are just worried that all of the new construction won't fall under their control and they should be.


steamboatsprings 8 years, 10 months ago

I should also note that there will likely be less commercial than before and no question there will be less commercial per pillow than before by a wide margin. Ski Time Square in going down by about 15% while they increase pillows by 4 times or more.


paststudent 8 years, 10 months ago

Um, places like The Silver Lining and Ambiente? Those are well priced Steamboat stores. I would have said the candy shop, but with construction...

Right now those are the only stores (not a knick nack or t shirt shop) worth going to on the mountain.


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