Big box retail stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Lowes will be the focus of tonight's Steamboat Springs Planning Commission agenda.

File photo

Big box retail stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Lowes will be the focus of tonight's Steamboat Springs Planning Commission agenda.

Big box talk on tap

Debate continues about large-format retail west of town

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Planning Commission meeting

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: Department of Planning and Community Development at 871-8258 for more information

By the numbers

Large-format retail survey

Preferred location: Responses

West U.S. 40 corridor: 62 percent

East U.S. 40 corridor: 24 percent

Other: 15 percent

Not in Steamboat: 11 percent

Downtown: 1 percent

Source: Steamboat Springs Economic Development Plan, November 2008

— The conversation to decide whether a big box store will spring up next to Steamboat II - or on both sides of it - begins at today's meeting of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission.

While studies show large-format retail in western Steamboat Springs would be a boon to the local economy and government finances, whether it makes sense from community character and landscape standpoints is another matter. Two major developments vying for annexation - Steamboat 700 and 360 Village - have submitted dual land-use plans, with and without big box pads included, while they wait for the city to decide what it wants. City officials have said the question must be answered before a more detailed review of the proposed annexations can continue.

Planning Services Manager John Eastman said he is surprised that more people haven't weighed in on the discussion in advance of tonight's meeting.

"We'd really like to have public engagement about this," he said.

The city planning staff's recommendation about whether big box retail should be included in western Steamboat is a "qualified yes," according to a staff report. The report states that impacts to local businesses would have to be mitigated, mixed-use urban design standards would have to be employed and "such a plan would likely require public/private partnerships to provide financing for a parking structure." The staff report identifies Steamboat 700, rather than 360 Village, as the preferred site for large-format retail in western Steamboat because the site "allows the best opportunity to mitigate visual impact and provide transit service at the most reasonable cost. This location has less potential impact on existing residences."

Citing Target and Lowe's as two possible examples, the staff report estimates that a large-format retail store would increase the city's annual sales tax receipts by $1.1 million.

"No doubt about it, big box generates a way bigger fiscal positive at build-out," Jean Townsend, an economist and public finance specialist hired by Steamboat 700, said last month.

If city officials decide to go with Steamboat 700's large-format retail alternative, the total number of housing units in the development would be reduced from 2,044 to 1,818. The number of affordable or attainable housing units - the No. 1 priority of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan - would be reduced from 511 to 455. Without big box, a transportation study conducted on behalf of Steamboat 700 predicts about 17,600 additional automobile trips a day accessing roads around the development at completion. With big box, that number jumps to 21,900.

Also Thursday, planning commissioners will review a proposed community housing plan for the planned Thunderhead development. The plan calls for $2.6 million in affordable housing fees in lieu of building affordable units. The Steamboat Highlands development will come before commissioners with a request for denser zoning at the 1.4-acre site on Burgess Creek Road. Commissioners also will review a final development plan for a new 10,200-square-foot Millennium Bank in Wildhorse Marketplace.

Comments

Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

The only reason SB is considering allowing big box is because Hayden annexed land that could be used for a big box retailer. So according to our local officials, big box is bad unless it might move to Hayden and then we need it.

Tricky real world issue is going to be is what happens when the big box retailer asks for incentives such as Target got in Silverthorne. Such as some sort of sales tax credit to cover the cost of building the store.

That is when the issue is going to explode because Hayden would probably say yes and after all the bad stuff said about big box in SB and the no big box ordinance then I don't see how SB officials could also give incentives without being recalled.

So the land in West SB reserved for big box is still going to be hard to find tenants.

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ybul 5 years, 2 months ago

I was going to ask what big box store type store is thinking of expanding today. Maybe target, but I think that is a stretch, the population base is probably not enough to support any of them. A grocery store yes, Wal-mart and Sears are already here. Home depot, I think that given their current finances that is a stretch.

Who knows, is anyone looking at moving in?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 2 months ago

No big box is going into Hayden, fifteen miles from WalMart in craig. If one goes in Steamboat is the only possibility.

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GearyBaxter 5 years, 2 months ago

YUK!!! Put it in Milner. Imagine what $1.1 million could do there!

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