Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs 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.