Steamboat 700 timeline
- 5 p.m. Tuesday: City Council meeting; initial review of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance
- Oct. 13: Final consideration of annexation plat, annexation agreement and traditional neighborhood design ordinance
By the numbers
- 1.2 percent: A real estate transfer tax at this rate will be instituted within the project to help pay for items such as affordable housing and a school
- 12.5: The number of acres Steamboat 700 will donate to the city for the development of affordable housing
- 13: Miles of trails
- 20: The number of years property rights will be vested if certain requirements are met
- 80 to 95: The estimated property tax mill levy within the development
- 126: Acres of open space
- 487: The total size of the development in acres
- 2,000: The number of homes - from apartments to large-lot, single-family houses - proposed
- 17,600 to 21,900: The number of daily vehicle trips the development will generate on surrounding roads
- 380,000: The square footage of commercial development proposed
- $280,000 to $600,000: The average price of housing within the development, in present day dollars
- $960,000: The amount being paid to firm up some of the city's existing water rights
Visit www.steamboat700.com and steamboatsprings.net/departments/planning_department/steamboat_700_july_2009 for downloads and for more information about Steamboat 700.
Steamboat Springs Some projects have gone under, others have changed hands and still others are plugging along slowly.
Much has changed since April 2008, when the Steamboat Pilot & Today's three-part series, "City Limits," examined annexations in other Colorado communities and how they related to Steamboat Springs' consideration of Steamboat 700. As the Steamboat Springs City Council nears a preliminary vote Tuesday on whether to annex Steamboat 700, many are nervous about the long-term implications of the proposal. That anxiety only is exacerbated by the recent economic climate and an upcoming City Council election.
The developers and their supporters argue that a decision about the long-term future of the city shouldn't be based on fear or politics.
Steamboat 700 is a proposed master-planned community on 487 acres adjacent to the western city limits of Steamboat Springs. The project proposes about 2,000 homes - from apartments to single-family home lots - and 380,000 square feet of commercial development that would be built to the standards of new urbanism: dense, walkable and transit-friendly, for example.
Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy and his Las Vegas partners purchased 700 acres west of the city in 2007 for $25 million. The project 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.
Supporters say the project helps fulfill the goals of the WSSAP and pay for several sorely needed city improvements. Critics say the development's affects on traffic and city services are too great.
In April 2008, developers of the 1,500-acre Orvis Shorefox project in Granby were confident about their development's success and its benefits to the small Grand County town. They stopped stocking the local newspaper at their offices because of stories that suggested otherwise.
Now, a call to the office is met with an automated message stating that the number has been disconnected. The skeleton of infrastructure traces the neglected land. In July, a pond breach on the foreclosed property resulted in a large sediment discharge into the Colorado River that changed the river's course, shut down Hot Sulphur Springs' domestic water supply and soured the river's appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.
To say Granby was aggressive about annexations would be an understatement. In less than a decade, Granby folded about 8,000 acres into town limits in an effort to control its borders, increase its revenues and augment its portfolio of water rights.
Town Manager Wally Baird is the first to admit that Orvis Shorefox isn't a pretty sight, but he said the annexation has otherwise been harmless for the town. Baird said the foreclosure and bankruptcy won't hurt the town and that Granby doesn't have any financial obligations tied to anticipated revenues from the development.
"We didn't have any type of investment in that annexation or any annexation," Baird said. "The only implication I can see is aesthetic. It looks bad when they start something and then it dies."
The town's other annexations, such as Grand Elk Ranch & Golf Club and the 5,000-acre Granby Ranch, still are alive. Baird said they are moving slower than initially expected - and that annexation agreements have had to be adjusted accordingly - but that overall, the town has realized the benefits it was looking for. Water rights dedication and commercial development creating sales tax were required up front.
"In spite of the economic circumstances, they're still doing pretty good," Baird said. "I don't know if, given the circumstances, they could have done better. : Our sales tax is higher than it was last year. We're one of the few towns in this part of Colorado that can say that. When we come out of this economic slump, we have a much broader base to draw from."
Florida developer Bobby Ginn has bowed out of his 4,300-acre proposed ski and golf resort on Battle Mountain, a project so substantial that the town he was successfully annexed into was jokingly referred to as "Ginnturn."
Ginn ushered the 1,700-home project through the annexation process and an overwhelmingly favorable referendum vote. It was announced earlier this month that Ginn, who faced several financial difficulties at his other projects, had given up his company's stake in the project. Crave Real Estate Ventures, which is part-owned by Lubert Alder, the man who helped finance the Battle Mountain project, has taken over.
In a letter to Minturn Town Manager Jim White, Crave representative Dave Kleinkopf wrote, "While there may be some challenges on the horizon, Crave Real Estate and the project's financial partners are 100 percent committed to this project and its long-term viability."
Kleinkopf, formerly of Intrawest, did not return an e-mail seeking comment. White was out of town and could not be reached. The Battle Mountain project has struggled to secure the necessary water rights it is required to dedicate to the town, and a lawsuit has held up the $180 million in public benefits associated with the project.
On his Web site, www.min turntimes.com, Battle Mountain critic Frank Lorenti says the project has caused nothing for the town but trouble. Most notably, Lorenti said, the project drew speculation to the quiet town, driving up property values and taxes.
"As of now, the citizens of Minturn will have to pay 35 percent more to live in this town with no extra services, just more development and blight on our lands," Lorenti wrote.
At 681 acres and built to the standards of new urbanism, the Three Springs development in Durango is the most similar to Steamboat 700 of all the projects examined in "City Limits." It also has successfully avoided negative headlines better than any other project.
General Manager Tim Zink readily admits the recession has had an impact on the development, which is averaging one to two home sales a month.
"We're what I would call a slow and steady pace," Zink said. "Probably our biggest problem isn't our home sales, it's our buyers' home sales."
But the economy hasn't affected the development's ability to meet its obligations to the city of Durango. Zink said that, to the contrary, the city of Durango is preparing to accept a large piece of open space and that all of the development's infrastructure recently was completed. Big-ticket items, such as $7.8 million in improvements to U.S. Highway 160 in 2004, were required up front.
Zink said the development now has about 300 residents. Durango planning officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. Zink said he doesn't know any of the details of Steamboat 700, but agreed philosophically that the city shouldn't base its decision to annex on factors such as the current economy.
"Right now is the time to be getting entitlements and setting things up for the market to come back," Zink said. "If it's a good project, it's a good project. If it's a bad project, it's a bad project. Now is the time to be setting it up so you have a plan and an outlet for that growth when it does come back."
Opinions are certainly split on whether Steamboat 700 is a good project, and the Steamboat Springs City Council will officially weigh in on the matter at Tuesday's council meeting. Check Tuesday's Steamboat Today for a story previewing that meeting.