Developer Todd Gilbertson and Listing Broker Sue Stempel, of Romick and Associates, admire the views of Mount Werner from one of the 35-acre building lots at Saddle Ridge.

Photo by Tom Ross

Developer Todd Gilbertson and Listing Broker Sue Stempel, of Romick and Associates, admire the views of Mount Werner from one of the 35-acre building lots at Saddle Ridge.

Rural estate subdivision has plenty of room for biathletes

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Saddle Ridge subdivision Developer Todd Gilbertson spent more than $85,000 installing a large solar panel to power entrance lighting and landscape irrigation pumps at the rural development about 8.5 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

— Developer Todd Gilbertson was a biathlete as a young man and didn't fully realize it. However, that could explain at some subconscious level why he's working with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to build a competitive biathlon course at his new subdivision, Saddle Ridge.

"I grew up in North Dakota hunting rabbits and fox on skis," Gilbertson said. "In fact, that's how I got myself back to campus every fall at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. I shot two foxes and got $60 for each" pelt.

The modern Olympic sport of biathlon requires supremely conditioned athletes to race on cross-country skis and periodically stop long enough to master their heart rates and shoot target rifles at small discs.

Gilbertson, an engineer by profession, is enthusiastically designing a course (safely away from home sites) in his subdivision where he hopes athletes from the Rocky Mountain region will gather twice a winter for competitions hosted by the Winter Sports Club.

Todd Wilson, Nordic director for the Winter Sports Club, said Gilbertson originally approached him about trading some consulting on trail design for access for the club's cross-country ski racers.

"I told him we're really hurting for a biathlon range - a place where you can ski and shoot," Wilson said. "Biathlon coach Gary Osteen and I visited the property, and we ended up doubling the size of the course. We hope to host a competition there this winter. We've worked with Todd for a year now, and he's been great."

Saddle Ridge comprises seven 35-acre building sites on an elevated bench on the north side of U.S. Highway 40 about eight miles west of Steamboat Springs.

It is immediately opposite the evergreen-covered landmark of the same name, where the Yampa River flows at the base of the twin humps of a low mountain that guards views of the Trout Creek Valley.

The subdivision is listed for sale by Bo and Sue Stempel of Romick and Associates.

Gilbertson and the Stempels are optimistic that Saddle Ridge will become known as a green build community and establish itself as a strong contender within a niche of the real estate market. However, Gilbertson is aware that he is launching at a time when the market has slowed dramatically from the relative buying frenzy of 2007.

"I probably picked the worst possible time to launch a new subdivision," he said.

Still, he is pushing ahead with the seven building sites that are priced from $695,000 to $955,000, the most expensive occupying the highest elevations, about 600 feet above the river.

Paved subdivision roads already are complete. The lake itself is not on the property. However, Saddle Ridge is buffered on its northwestern boundary by an adjoining property where 750 acres are under a conservation easement that will preserve them in a natural condition.

The entrance to Saddle Ridge, just beyond the western edge of a lake created by the reclamation of the Connell Resources gravel operation, announces itself with a substantial solar array that is visible from cars and trucks passing on the highway.

The 10 kilowatt power panel cost more than $85,000 and will generate sufficient electricity to power the lighting at the entrance gate, pumps for a recirculating water feature that will flow from a small pond below natural springs on the property, and another pump to power a drip irrigation system for a community tree farm, Bo Stempel said.

After that, it should generate enough energy to sell some back to the grid.

"The meter is going to run backward on the solar panels," Stempel said.

The building envelopes at Saddle Ridge were designed to maximize solar gain, with several sites ideal for a living roof. River Ranch, producers of naturally raised beef, will tend the dry-land hay meadows on the upper benches, then feed that hay to its cattle.

Gilbertson said that maintenance equipment, including a full-sized Nordic skiing trail groomer, will use biodiesel whenever possible. Residents will enjoy a trail system that winds across 200 acres of shared open space and is designed for hiking, biking skiing and horseback riding.

To encourage sustainable building practices on the land, Gilbertson will offer $30,000 solar credits on the first two lots that are sold.

In addition, he is offering a $10,000 credit for homeowners who comply with the Steamboat Springs Green Build Program.

Sue Stempel said the homeowners' bylaws will permit homes no less than 2,500 square feet on a single level and up to a maximum of 8,000 square feet.

"The overall size of homes here is coming down with rising energy costs," she said. "And that's plenty of room for a conscientious luxury home."

  • To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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