Our View: Base area business alliance needed


Editorial Board, October 2009 through February 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Michelle Garner, community representative
  • Paula Cooper Black, community representative

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— There's been talk recently about how to fill the vacant lot left by the demolition of Ski Time Square, particularly because developer The Atira Group has indicated it could be a decade before construction begins. But before we get too excited about the short-term potential of the empty parcel at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, it's important to remember Ski Time Square's sub-par recent business history.

In many ways, Ski Time Square was a dysfunctional business district for the past 15 or so years. With a few notable exceptions, businesses came and went, struggling to attract the traffic needed for long-term success. Even the buildings created obstacles to business growth (think Levelz and its failed support beam).

So it's hard to imagine why plopping a few modular businesses on an empty, snow-filled piece of land would fare any better. But that's nonetheless one of the ideas floating around the city as Atira officials solicit ideas from the community about how the Ski Time Square site can be best used until its eventual redevelopment. Atira's interest comes on the heels of the Steamboat Springs City Council's decision to table Atira's redevelopment plans until January, largely a result of the council's desire to see a plan for sparking vitality in Ski Time Square long before redevelopment commences.

Kudos to Atira for reaching out to the community and looking for good ideas. And forgive us for being pessimistic about how an aesthetically pleasing, financially feasible stop-gap solution will make its way into Ski Time Square in the near future. The ideas with the most merit - and the best chances for success - also will be the hardest to achieve. The best example is an outdoor skating rink.

Fortunately, there is a movement under way that could be far more significant to the future of base area businesses than any temporary venture in Ski Time Square. Following in the footsteps of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, a group of base area business leaders is in the final stages of forming a new alliance aimed at organizing, marketing and executing events at the base. The new group, which includes heavy participation from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., is more comprehensive than the Mountain Business Association, which most recently was led by the late Chris Corna, of Slopeside Grill.

Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Ski Corp., said the new alliance of mountain area businesses won't compete with Mainstreet, preferring to instead work with it for event coordination and scheduling. It will, however, bring new energy and enthusiasm to creating a lasting and vibrant mountain village atmosphere, Wirth said.

The timing of the business coalition is good. There's an absolute need for base area businesses to do a better job of collaborating with one another for the purpose of attracting people to their stores, restaurants and offices. The construction of a promenade that will eventually link Ski Time Square to Gondola Square and beyond also is symbolic in that many base area businesses will be connected physically for the first time. A philosophical embrace of new partnerships should yield positive results.

What the base area needs are more events and sights that keep folks there - anything from Christmas carolers in period costumes to snow sculptures to warm, open seating areas. An aggressive, proactive group of mountain businesses can go a long way toward improving the atmosphere at our ski area base. And those efforts should be far more fruitful over time than spending a lot of effort and money on a temporary fixture in empty Ski Time Square.


Tracy Barnett 7 years, 5 months ago

If the businesses actually become engaged, with both sweat equity and enthusiasm, they can only benefit. To sit back and let Ski Corps do it will doom any efforts to failure. It takes a lot of manpower and brain power, all working toward a common goal, to make the business alliance model work. And, above all, choose a strong leader to continually nudge your agendas forward. You might need a paid person whose sole job is to keep you moving forward.


greenwash 7 years, 5 months ago

Ski Corps is out of touch,time for a change.Andy Wirth/Chris Diamond are not the guys.

Altira Group isnt going to just give the land away...How Much for rent?

Our base area is an embarrassment.If I was coming from New York id be really dissapointed.

Dont sugar coat it.


seeuski 7 years, 5 months ago

That site may be the perfect venue for the Olympian send off this winter especially if an ice rink is set up. Imagine some ice skating torch parades along with an on snow torch parade. A nightly activity like ice skating would create the need for small vendors such as hot cocoa and coffee etc. In other words create the need for business with something that attracts traffic, no one is going to visit an empty meadow to buy a t shirt.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 5 months ago

If the Base Area starts off thinking they are not going to compete with Main St then they have already given up. Of course they are going to compete with Main St. Most visitors are going to spend an evening at one place and not both base area and downtown. The competition does not need to be nasty and destructive, but they should be competing.

With the development of downtown, it is going to be very hard for the base area to be any other than winter seasonal. What it is going to take is the major hotel and condo owners to realize that good nightlife within walking distance adds to their rentals and property values. And if they want certain businesses there, such as a night club, it'd probably need subsidized rent from the nearby lodging establishments.


seeuski 7 years, 5 months ago

This is about a temporary usage and not a structure that would house a nightclub so looking at the least expensive avenue but something which adds value to the typical family visiting this winter is what should top the list. What has been missing from the base area for a while is nighttime tubing and ice skating might be a good replacement for a draw of business. Maybe the new owner of Slopeside will consider the need for nightlife.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 5 months ago

Good ideas above.

The worst idea? Granting extra years of vesting to Atira's requested development permit. They need ten years? And that's just to pull a (3 year?) building permit.

Allowing vesting for a ten year hole in the middle of Ski Time Square is not smart for Steamboat. In fact, its crazy.

Better to stick with normal vesting, even if it means we wait a few years, because it opens up the parcel's future to the strongest developers out there in any given year. Let's be smart about this parcel's future.


boater1 7 years, 5 months ago

i agree with scott concerning restaraunts and nightlife. people come to ski during the day and have fun at night. that mean some interesting to restaraunts to check out each night and later some drinks or a band. that's a key part of the whole ski vacation. always has been, always will be. instead of seeing a new restaraunt rental as purely incoming cash flow, see them as a partner in your building to bring more guests. instead of seeing a night club as a nusance, see it as a happening spot to stay & play. sound can always be mitgated. do whatever it take as a financial incentive to get locals to have a biz in your building. vibrant biz equals vibrant areas equals vibrant rental spots. is that so hard to understand. in this economy do what ever deal you need to to fill the spot.

as far as the base area. i walked past the gates into the new steamboat 1 base area just to the right of the ticket office. if they can attract some food/entertainment quickly this year that area has the potential to be a hot spot. in fact i see the hot area this year ranging from that courtyard over to slopeside/saketumi. up the steps into ski time square is gonna be barren again & many will travel downtown for the action.

since ski time is dead and has open space. get outdoor family/kids activities in there. seems like the only thing that could work. since nightime tubing was killed at the ski base area nighttime family stuff is non existant. pretty sad for a ski that is #1 for that.


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