Steamboat 700 still confident despite near defeat

Project 1 vote away from defeat in City Council on Tuesday


— Steamboat 700 came within one vote of defeat Tuesday, but Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said he was encouraged by the outcome and remains confident moving forward.

If Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting is any indication, final consideration of the proposed annexation Oct. 13 should be an energetic affair. Steamboat 700 advances to that date after a 4-3 vote that followed a tense and highly attended meeting.

Steamboat 700 is a 487-acre project that proposes 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space to be built in 20 to 30 years, on a site just outside the western city limits. Steamboat 700 is within the boundaries of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which contemplates growth and annexation to help accomplish a number of community goals, principally affordable housing.

Steamboat 700 attorney Bob Weiss said the development has spent three years and $5 million developing its proposal.

He said if it is not approved, no alternative plan will be presented to the city, and the WSSAP's vision for high-density development in the area will be lost.

"This is the absolute best effort," Weiss said. "This gives us an opportunity for a sustained, planned approach to growth."

Council members requested that a number of issues be addressed before Steamboat 700 returns in two weeks. They included an additional land dedication for affordable housing and stronger assurances that the development will employ green practices. The biggest concern, however, was that Steamboat 700 somehow prove that its homes will be affordable to working-class residents. Because of the expensive toll of public improvements being required of the development, some council members fear that is not possible.

"I have to see enough numbers to believe this will really provide attainable, free-market housing to the community," Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said.

Mulcahy noted that he will be able to spread the cost of improvements across the entire development and said some cost estimates, particularly those related to U.S. Highway 40, are too high. Some council members and residents wanted more than Mulcahy's word, however.

"Nowhere in the contract is that verbal intent written," resident Catherine Carson said. "If it's not in writing, it may or may not have occurred."

Others felt council was teetering dangerously close to denying the development and thus losing $140 million in public benefits such as a fire station, school, highway improvements, parks and more. They also said allowing Steamboat 700 to solve some of the community's problems is better than denying it because it doesn't fix all of them.

"I really feel like if we don't plan for and make this happen now, we're walking away from an opportunity to have a partner," resident Greg Long said. "I know it seems like a big development, but I think it makes sense. If it goes elsewhere, there's nobody to help us pay for it."

Mulcahy said he doesn't think the attainable housing issue is insurmountable.

"We're going to work with staff to come to a solution," he said. "Our housing is geared to the work force of the community, so it shouldn't be too hard to provide the community with some assurances of that."


There was frustration on both sides of the council's tight vote. Councilman Jon Quinn said he was upset that years of planning and preparation came so close to failing.

"I was bummed. I shouldn't be so passionate about it, but I truly think it is better for us to have a plan for growth rather than not have one," he said. "This community will continue to grow for the basic reason that it is a place people want to be. It's better to make sure we have a plan for it."

Quinn said he was surprised by the three "no" votes cast by Hermacinski and council members Steve Ivancie and Meg Bentley. Quinn said he felt the votes were not adequately explained. Shortly after the meeting, he confronted Ivancie and asked whether he was ready to throw the entire development away.

Ivancie said he voted against the first reading of an ordinance annexing the property because of lingering concerns and his belief that the process is moving too quickly. A motion by Ivancie to table the ordinance failed.

"I'm not a slave to anybody's schedule. We only get one shot at this," Ivancie said. "We're all taking it very seriously, but I see no reason to rush this. I'm willing to vote on it, but I'm not willing to rush it."


flotilla 7 years, 7 months ago

I was told that the developer would go with whatever contractors are cheapest. Now who do you think that will be? A big housing contractor from the front range? Or some one man shows with a crew and an office/ garage? The front range is working for pennies to our dollars right now. Why do you think the city continues to contract most of their work out to businesses outside Steamboat? All you out of work construction folk who think this is the way out of the recession... you are too expensive because you actually live here. Danny has no way of knowing what a contractor can build a house for. In this current climate, find one to build a house for $200/sqft with the land already owned. You can't. Even if we get out of this economy and start going back up, wages aren't going to skyrocket.
Furthermore, realtors. Sigh. You didn't have to put your names on paper for the whole county to know you want 700. Probably 50% of that support advertisement was you guys. So you can flip your land that you buy up for more money thus taking any "affordability, attainability" out of the picture. Why would you change whats been working for the past decade or two? Yes, I am aware of the "flipping clause" and it only applies to the SECOND owner, aka, the people the realtors sell it to. Because when it goes on the market, out of work "working class" people will still be struggling and probably won't be able to qualify for a loan. If you have been paying attention to the skyrocketing credit card fees, how many "working class" folks will have any income left for a 700 unit?

This is going to pass, with Cari's campaign line drawn in the sand... Danny doesn't need to convince her, I can't wait to see him try! She knows and he knows the votes to annex are already there, and this might be the greatest council hoax ever in Steamboat. If she truly cared about this, she would have the power to make a difference to fellow council members, like Loui and Quinn. 122 people supporting 700 on the back of a newspaper don't equal the constituents to merit the vote of four council members. Remember who you represent folks? And Jon Quinn, you are right, maybe you shouldn't be so passionate about it. Maybe you should start using the thing on your shoulders. Annexing this, and the embarrassing way our council is bowing down to these developers is a mistake. Yes, Fred, a mistake. Council is single-handedly making us look foolish. "Oh, we've come so far, they've spent so much."

Anyone see the real estate auction in hayden oct 18th? I hear lots can go for as low as 30K. Now that is affordable.

I agree with Ybul, consumer confidence isn't there because the money isn't there. People are really trying to correct the errors of their past.

I hope I am wrong. I hope the flood gates open and the golden geese flock once again.

And yes, Rob, I know I don't really matter because I don't use my name. So don't even bother to write it.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

Thank you, Fred. I will sleep better now knowing that someone died and left you the crystal ball.


blue_spruce 7 years, 7 months ago

Fred - not really, but as you wish.

I guess I'll put you on my "self-interested, I stand to make a ton of $$$" list....." - fair enough?


blue_spruce 7 years, 7 months ago

"I'm not a slave to anybody's schedule. We only get one shot at this," Ivancie said. "We're all taking it very seriously, but I see no reason to rush this. I'm willing to vote on it, but I'm not willing to rush it."

Thank you Steve!!


blue_spruce 7 years, 7 months ago

The more these guys push so hard for now, now, now:.the more nervous I get. At least we should get everything in writing and some guarantee that we won't be stuck with the tab! And I also feel that doing nothing is better than starting down a dead end!


aichempty 7 years, 7 months ago

I think the answer to this thing may be pretty simple.

Multiply the number of subdivided lots by the cost of city water and sewer tap fees, and see if that's enough to pay for the infrastructure improvements that 2000 units will require. If so, let the developers post a bond to cover the cost and let's get going.

I don't think people understand that there's not enough capacity for 2000 extra homes at this time. When the improvements are made, they need to be sized to serve all 2000 units. You can't add the necessary improvements one or two houses at a time.

Are the developers willing to fund the whole cost of infrastructure improvement up front, and recoup their costs from land sales? If not, the City is on the hook, and that's the controversy.


Dan Hill 7 years, 7 months ago

Here's what's going to happen:

  1. We will kill this thing having loaded every conceivable city infrastructure cost we can think of on to this development and dragged it out so long that the developer can't justify spending any more money spinning his wheels

  2. Ten years from now when housing prices inside the (existing) city limits are through the roof, mostly the very same people who killed Steamboat 700 will be bleating louder that ever about affordable housing.

I'm really disappointed in city council members wanting guarantees on affordability. The developer would need a crystal ball to give that. All anybody can say for sure is that housing will be a lot less affordable without this annexation than with it.


ElevenFootPole 7 years, 7 months ago

"....I see no reason to rush this. I'm willing to vote on it, but I'm not willing to rush it."

15 years of planning, 2 years of review & 18 months of negotiations (utilizing a not-so-inexpensive attorney) is what you call RUSHING IT?????


Tubes 7 years, 7 months ago

very well said dan! finally someone who is able to see past today, today, today, now, now, now...


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

Tubes and Dan,

You think what MAY happen "ten years from now" is reason to commit now? That is a BIG IF. Demographics are changing and our kids and grand kids will most likely not have the resources to move here whatever the prices are. Wish I had recorded the number of times I have heard friends, neighbors and residents on the street say "I am tired of the winters". There is another wave of listings on the back burner once we work our way through what we have now and for the forseeable future. If we had indicators that we were rebounding in the next 2 years I would agree with you but obviously no one thinks that is in the cards. The West Area Plan WAS about affordable housing so don't ignore it because the developer does not have a crystal ball!


ybul 7 years, 7 months ago

If Council approves the annexation and 10 years out (or sooner) we are wrong we will have blight(ala Granby on the front of Sunday's Pilot)--

Worse we be blight on the front of the Denver Post, Chicago Tribune, etc.. Maybe those in charge of the decision making should ponder that by growing so much you are destroying the charm that made the town what it was and actually may cause tourism to decline. Just maybe an unfinished development of this size for a long time will cause tourism to decline? Adding a development that adds 1/3+ to the size of the town might just be unjustified, in one bite. Are there not 2 other developments on the table.

Real Estate and the POTENTIAL of building houses should not be the deciding factor for this development. Heck two years ago, green light the project, based upon everyones belief of where we are headed on a national economic picture. Today, I do not believe that you can state that the national economic outlook for the foreseeable future is very good.

So what happens if tourism returns to a much more moderate level long term (not one based upon a debt expansion)? What happens if the national economy, which some indicators were showing a rebound in, now go negative again (as consumer confidence points towards) and many people can not afford to buy that second home worse yet, would be that those that own a second home are forced to sell their second home.

What happens to the allure of Steamboat Springs if on the West end of town there is a development (2/3 the size of SS today) that does not show any signs of progress for 5-15 years. Does this actually place a drag on peoples desire to visit Steamboat Springs in the summer or to buy a home as the City Tax rates are forced through the roof to cover the fixed overhead that this development comes with for the City.

If the City is so reliant on two sources of income for its residents then maybe it should look into finding other business' which would complement the tourism industry and focus on developing those as opposed to potentially killing the desire of tourists to come to this town as it becomes just any other town with real traffic congestion and has lost the small town charm that made it so successful.


Wayne Eller 7 years, 7 months ago

And again------------WHERE WILL THE PEOPLE WORK?????------- Look in todays' paper at the job listings and show me one job willing to pay the salary necessary to support a $300,000. or $400,000. house in this AFFORDABLE subdivision. Come on Danny, I am still waiting for you to answer this question------ and I will continue to ask it until we get answers.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

If the naysayers are wrong and 10 years from now we are back to 2007 with real estate prices, job listings and economic prosperity, then we will have affordable housing options in Phippsburg, Yampa, Oak Creek, Milner, Hayden, Stagecoach, and North Routt. If Council approves the annexation and 10 years out (or sooner) we are wrong we will have blight(ala Granby on the front of Sunday's Pilot) that the tax payers of the city will have to pay for. Thank you Cari, for listening to your constituents. Also to Steve and Meg for their hesitancy. As elected officials, Council has an obligation, despite personal preferences, to represent the will of their constituents. Steamboat 700 has supporters--Steamboat 700 has detractors. Knowing that, the correct response from Council on Oct. 13 is to approve a citywide vote which we will all abide by and stop this divisiveness once and for all.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 7 months ago

Blue, This project will be financed through a metro district, you have the same opportunity that I will have for work here. If I was self serving as you indicate, would I risk alienating half the town? I would be everyones buddy, straddling the fence, maximizing profits, and using an anonymous name to hide my identity. How about you?


boater1 7 years, 7 months ago

justice4all, wouldn't the building/selling/maintaining of infrastructure, houses, condos & other 700 structures for the next 20+ years put a fair number of people to work? many of the same people who are currently out of work? 1 jobs leads to the trickle of others. it's not in a bubble.

like it or not, steamboat's economy is heavily based on 2 legs: tourism and real estate/construction. it seems this project provides the work for 1 of those legs and is in town work. it's not something happening in hayden or oak creek. sure steamboat needs to diversify, but that is where we are today.

also it has been stated before, a growing workforce is based on people who live here but there company is elsewhere.

it would not rule out retires who want to be in steamboat, want a house close to town, yet there is budget is 400-500K not a million plus.

finally many of these properties will be bought by people moving up from condos/townhomes. then those properties get bought by first timers. sure real estate is in a rut now, but that will change over time. people need places to live and the world is not ending.


blue_spruce 7 years, 7 months ago

" have the same opportunity that I will have for work here."

yeah, right. i can rent a mini from wagner and jump right into the bidding process....

fred, your company is the only obvious choice for this kind of scope and size project in steamboat. i hear you do really great work. who else would get the job (i HOPE no out of towners!)?? seriously, if the project goes through you've got my support!

however, i am just observing that maybe this has clouded your judgment here - what is it called, "conflict of interest"? i'm not trying to be mean, but seriously - you stand to make a ton of cash! you are just looking out for the wellbeing of your company and employees. in your shoes i'd probably be singing the same tune....


Fred Duckels 7 years, 7 months ago

Back in the sixties we had about 1400 peopole in town, the miners had been on strike too much, and everyone converted to other fuels. The mines closed down, I70 got the interstate designation and US40, the vacation highway, was nearly abandoned. Things were tough. We all had the same view, bumper stickers with "will the last one out of Steamboat turn out the lights: were in abundance. What happened since then has defied my imagination, I had never dreamed that the money pouring in here even existed. Things will work out. Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach were approved under rules of another day, reminiscent of the 70s, Grand county is light years behind us in development and chaos seems to reign over there. 700 is a planned entity that if lost will set us back decades. We need to start concentrating our population and stop plundering the countryside. When I see pictures of Europe I see villages and untouched countryside, I could use a little of that.


Karen_Dixon 7 years, 7 months ago

"....maybe it should look into finding other business" (ybul)

"Noreen Moore, of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, said housing stock is key to Steamboat's ability to attract the location-neutral businesspeople that are key contributors to the local economy." Additionally, " "In today's technology world, housing will be a motivator," Moore said" "

I hope that council candidates will be asked questions in this evening's forum related to strategies for creating economic diversity & vitality. Many people have pointed out in various threads that dependency on 1 industry - tourism - is unstable & unpredictable & unwise. How would each candidate respond to Noreen's statement that housing plays a major role in attracting & keeping businesses other than those related to tourism? If a candidate agrees that attainable housing is a significant factor to achieving economic diversity, what would he/she's strategy be to provide/encourage/foster attainable housing if elected?


flotilla 7 years, 7 months ago

Maybe you should move back into Steamboat CITY Fred, and let you county land return to its rolling hillside.

The 70's "Renaissance" is hardly the vision of Steamboat's future.

When at a lack for true answers going forward we look at the past and assume the best? Both Republican-y and mavericky. Can Cari see 700 from her yard?

Why do you think that no one else will pick up 700 down the road? When demand rings it's bell, developers are never far away. Salivating.

There are plenty of ghost towns Fred.


Kevin Nerney 7 years, 7 months ago

Flotilla -"whatever contractors are cheapest. " that's half the problem with everything in the world. When you break your arm or leg do you shop around for the cheapest Dr. to set the bone. no. when you have a toothache do you find the cheapest Dentist? no. These guys have fees that are known as reasonable and customary. When was the last time a carpenter said "we get $1,000.00 to hang a door because it is reasonable and customary." If carpenters stuck together with their pricing Home Depot couldn't undercut other bids and everyone could make money.


flotilla 7 years, 7 months ago

Still, contractors are cheaper in denver because the cost of living is cheaper. Medical treatment is hardly comparable to this.


1999 7 years, 7 months ago

apples and oranges kevin

you are either lying or in denial if you think developers do not go with the cheaper SET bid.

how many homes in steamboat do you think were built by builders NOT from steamboat?



aichempty 7 years, 6 months ago

The difference between a high-quality custom home and a Monopoly house made out of chipboard and composites is many thousands of dollars in the cost of materials.

Building codes have been eased to allow the use of cheaper materials, and some builders use them. Others prefer to appeal to the high-end market where quality and custom features show. From personal experience, I know that quality construction in mainstream market housing does not show up until the cheaply built places on either side start to deteriorate in 2 or 3 years while the well-built home seems to require less attention to stay looking good and working properly. When a new home is ready for occupancy with fresh paint, new carpet, sparkling appliances and that "new house smell" most buyers are only interested in square footage and the monthly payment. As a result, a place that will stand for 100 years without repair is going to sell for the same price as the one next door that will require re-siding in 10 years or repainting every 3 years.

There's also the issue of resins and chemicals in composite materials versus dimensional lumber, addition of metal ties to joints, proper shimming of drywall and even such things as designing to avoid clogged drains and frozen pipes if the heat goes off for a few hours. Some homeowners will never have problems and won't think about it while others will have constant little problems and wonder "Why anyone would do it that way?" Because it's cheaper, and because people only concerend with maximum footage for minimum cost won't know the difference.

Quality construction only costs a few percent more than the minimum to meet the code, but that few percent can't be recovered when competing with cheaper products. The builder eats it every time in a spec house, so it doesn't pay.

Finally, you've got to look around and see who's doing business here. People run their businesses the same way they run their lives, and if people cheat in one visible area, they'll cheat in all the others that you don't see. Imagine a guy who cheats on taxes but does everything else just right . . . see what I mean? Once you allow yourself to be a little bit dishonest, or cut a few corners at the end of the day because "nobody will ever see it" you've joined the local workforce.

If you want quality around here, you either pay through the nose or do it yourself. You really can't expect a town where getting high is the high point of the day to host a workforce that will have your best interest and building a first-quality product in mind as five o'clock draws near. I've seen too much work that was done poorly at the end of the day to expect better around here.

And before somebody chimes in with "if the pay was better the product would be better," it's just not true. You pay people around here to show up, give thanks when they do, and hope for the best at the end of the day. That's reality.


1999 7 years, 6 months ago

what you're suggesting is inching close to (wait for it)....


you also said "IF the tradesmen would........."

the fact is...people, companys, citys etc etc etc...tend to go with the lowest bid.


blue_spruce 7 years, 6 months ago

aichempty - i'm sorry you've had such a negitave experience here in steamboat, but you are way off. unfortunately a few bad actors give the whole industry a poor reputation, but you are just plain wrong. sorry for your misfortune.


Kevin Nerney 7 years, 6 months ago

I'm neither lying or in denial. Just stating the facts as they should be. If the tradesman would get together and stick to universal pricing the developers wouldn't have a cheaper bid to chose from, they would all be comparable, and then it would come down to skill and workmanship. Quality would be improved because the bozo clowns who do shoddy work would be weeded out. That's why in the old days there were apprenticeships and it took years to learn your craft. Today anybody with a hammer and a DVD can learn how to build stuff in a weekend. That doesn't make him a carpenter.


aichempty 7 years, 6 months ago


I'm not speaking as someone who bought a lemon. I built the high-quality product and saw what went up next door.

There are some very good builders around here, and people must expect to pay more for their products. If you're getting a bargain, then you're getting screwed, so caveat emptor (buyer beware).


freerider 7 years, 6 months ago

The developers will bring in contractors from Tiajuana ....COME ON TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN


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