Steamboat Springs In a backward economy, The Atira Group is pushing forward with plans for the redevelopment of Ski Time Square. But developers will ask for a 10-year grace period before they must bring the project to fruition.
Development plans for Ski Time Square - sister to the proposed 390,000-square-foot Thunderhead Lodge redevelopment project approved by the city in May - call for five buildings totaling more than 660,000 square feet of mixed-use development on 4.6 acres. Like Thunderhead, the Ski Time Square development between Ski Time Square Drive and Burgess Creek Road would be 105 feet tall at its highest points. Together, the projects would replace the demolished Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge properties, which totaled about 235,000 square feet, with more than 1 million square feet of new development.
Despite the dramatic increase in gross square footage, Atira is proposing a decrease in commercial spaces. That prospect caused some eyebrows to rise during Atira's preapplication hearings with the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and City Council, but Atira argues retail studies show its proposal is appropriate. In Ski Time Square, Atira is proposing about 200 residential units totaling nearly 400,000 square feet and about 27,000 square feet of commercial space for stores and restaurants.
City planner Jonathan Spence said it does not appear that Atira is proposing any spaces for nightlife in Ski Time Square to replace venues that were lost in demolition. That could be a potential deal-breaker for some City Council members.
"I have a tough time micromanaging projects, but, yeah, I think it is," Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said. "We don't have any nightlife : on the mountain anymore. It's certainly something I think the tourist expects to be able to do : and locals enjoy it, as well."
Phone messages left for Mark Mathews, an Atira vice president, and the project's architect were not returned Tuesday.
City Council President Loui Antonucci said nightlife is desirable but not necessarily a requirement for him.
"It will seek its own level. If it's appropriate, somebody will put it in somewhere on the mountain. I don't know if it has to be in Ski Time Square," he said. "Even though I'd like to see it, I don't know if I'd mandate it."
Antonucci said he was encouraged to see The Atira Group moving forward with Ski Time Square in a down economy. He said he assumes Atira wants to be ready with an approved project when the economy rebounds, hopes entitlements will attract investors or both.
"It's nice to see some optimism amongst everything else," Antonucci said.
But in what could be a sign that their optimism is measured, The Atira Group is requesting an extended vesting period for the project that would allow them wait for as long as 10 years before pulling a building permit. The city's normal vesting period is three years. Hermacinski and Antonucci said that 10 years sounds like too long of a vesting period at first blush but noted that council is scheduled to have a discussion about vesting periods at its July 21 meeting.
Development plans for Ski Time Square were submitted to the city of Steamboat Springs on June 1. The city has not fully analyzed the project, and Spence said hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council are not scheduled.