Neil Bergman let out a little sigh Monday afternoon as a track hoe unceremoniously lifted the homemade hot tub out of the back deck of his former home at 655 Yampa St.
The house on the Yampa River, which Bergman purchased in 1973 and occupied for 30 years, was demolished by heavy equipment operated by Joe Duksa, of D&D Enterprises.
It was one of four remaining single-family residences on Yampa Street. The neighborhood, primarily commercial, was steadily transformed in the past five years by new development until the national recession struck.
Howard Ulep and Dennis Frank, of Annapolis, Md., developers of The Boathouse Pub, own the property at 655 Yampa, just a block east of the pub. They were issued a development permit in November 2007 to build a mixed-use commercial and residential building on the site, which is directly opposite the south end of Seventh Street.
Ulep could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Senior City Planner Jonathan Spence said the development permit allows the developers until late 2010 to pull a building permit. However, he added that recently, the city has shown a willingness, in some cases, to extend the vesting of approved developments.
The plans for 655 Yampa are notable for an automated automobile elevator to stack residents' cars, and a covered pedestrian concourse leading from the street to a courtyard on the Yampa River. The concourse would pass beneath a residential unit.
The city of Steamboat Springs encouraged the owners to demolish the unoccupied house because it had become a public nuisance.
Bergman's occupancy of the home coincided with his 30-year career in maintenance at Steamboat Springs High School. He sold the house in 2003 and he and his wife, Helen, moved to a home across the river in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
"I said when I moved in there that some day this would be 'Restaurant Row,' and I was going to cash in," Bergman said.
He purchased the former Rodney Guire home for $40,000 and invested considerable sweat equity in the property. Friends helped him add a second story to the building. He converted one garage to a family room he dubbed "The Turtle Lounge," and built a new garage on the other end of the house. He also added a large deck along the river where he installed his hot tub.
There were no hot tub retailers in Steamboat in 1973, Bergman said, so he improvised. He got his hands on a round section of concrete sewer pipe, installed it in a hole in the deck and lined the rim with attractive ceramic tiles.
Bergman was visibly sad to see the demolition of the home in which he had lived for three decades.
"If people knew how much I spent on this. If people knew how much of me I put into this place," he said.