The development partnership behind Wildhorse Meadows intends to the city planning process in the fall with a new vision for its next phase, in spite of 40 unsold luxury condominiums in Trailhead Lodge, pictured at right.

Photo by John F. Russell

The development partnership behind Wildhorse Meadows intends to the city planning process in the fall with a new vision for its next phase, in spite of 40 unsold luxury condominiums in Trailhead Lodge, pictured at right.

New Wildhorse housing project planned in Steamboat

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— Reports this summer of new development projects being hatched have been as scarce as a slalom race in July.

But the developers of Wild­horse Meadows said this week that they intend to enter the city of Steamboat Springs planning process in the fall to seek a permit for a new housing project envisioned to meet resort homebuyers’ desires in a post-recessionary economy.

“It doesn’t have a name yet, but our next project would be more along the lines of Wildhorse cottages,” Brent Pearson said Thursday.

Pearson is chief financial officer and among the principals at Resort Ventures West, the owners representative of Wildhorse Land Co. The land company is the overarching development partnership for the multiple phases of Wildhorse Meadows, including Trailhead Lodge, The Range single-family lots and First Tracks condominiums.

The site is off Pine Grove Road, down a hillside from Steamboat Ski Area gondola. It is linked to the ski base by a privately owned, public gondola. The developers are approved for 700,000 square feet of building, they said. The next phase could comprise as much as 60,000 square feet of homes smaller than originally envisioned. The developers said that’s where they expect the demand to be in several years.

One other major development has entered the city approval process ahead of Wildhorse this summer. Pearl Living and Yampa Valley Medical Center are hoping to move dirt this year on a new residential campus for senior citizens, while Casey’s Pond LLC is testing the waters for a companion development of condominiums for independent seniors.

The new proposal would be built where Wildhorse Land initially envisioned 3,500-square-foot, lot-line-to-lot-line single-family homes, Pearson said. But the new project would offer downsized homes in keeping with what the developers predict the mindset of second-homebuyers to be when they consider purchasing property again in mountain resorts.

“We won’t give people more than they need,” Pearson said. “We’ll give them just what they need. If it’s a garage (for example), it’s only a one-car garage.”

Working through the city permit process is one thing, pulling the trigger on a construction project is another, and Pearson was quick to say no decision has been made to actually build the new cottage-scale homes.

“We’ll be watching what the economy does, but we expect to see some stability returning to the market within the next two years. Delivery (of completed homes) would be between two and three years away,” he said.

The Wildhorse partnership wants to be prepared to move on an appropriate project should demand return, Pearson said.

The idea that the Wildhorse developers would move forward with a new project while millions of dollars in luxury condominiums at Trailhead Lodge remain unsold might seem improbable.

Pearson said the overall dev­elopment is structured to make that possible.

The partners in Wildhorse Meadows Land sold the land for the condominium building to Trailhead Lodge LLC, and they own the amenities on the site (which will be available to the entire Wildhorse community as it develops), Pearson said. And Wildhorse Land is not encumbered by the debt on Trailhead.

“The land company is very stable, very solid,” Pearson said. “There is no debt on the partners.”

Resort Ventures West Director of Sales and Mark­eting Kerry Shea said the structure of Wildhorse Meadows is what allows it the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions as it plans for the future.

Trailhead Lodge reported after a July 2007 pre-sales event that it had 63 of 86 condominiums under hard contract for an aggregate $56 million. But fewer than half of those contracts have closed. Shea said that as of this week, Trailhead has closed 30 condominiums.

“That market has not yet returned,” Pearson acknowledged Thursday.

Tentatively, the developers plan to build a model home representing the new phase at Wildhorse and work toward additional homes on contract.

City Planner Seth Lorson said this week that because Wildhorse Meadows is a large, master-planned community, he and his colleagues are in regular contact with Resort Ventures West.

The planning process the developers went through for the overall Wildhorse project approved land uses and permissible densities in the different phases. However, Lorson said it would be premature to react to Resort Ventures West’s tentative new project.

“We’re happy to work with them, and we want them to succeed,” he said.

Wildhorse would occupy all of 44 acres of land purchased from Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

Wildhorse is within the Ur­­ban Renewal Authority boundary at the base of the ski area, and consequently new development there could be expected to contribute property taxes to the improvements of public facilities under way at the ski base.

Comments

steamboatsprings 4 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately they don't seem to understand that few people trust them after how they treated their customers in Trailhead Lodge. This isn't Vail and to be a part of this community you have to treat others well. I'm not sure what they can do to regain people's trust but the market is not the biggest problem they have over at Wild Horse Meadows.

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Chris Peters 4 years, 4 months ago

They could gain a ton of trust if they hire people from the Yampa Valley to do the work!

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TWill 4 years, 4 months ago

What happened to their customers at Trailhead Lodge? Who wasn't treated well?

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steamboatsprings 4 years, 4 months ago

Some were sued and many were threatened including several local families if they couldn't buy due to the downturn. I haven't heard of anyone else that did this but have run into a lot of people that Wildhorse did this too.

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TWill 4 years, 4 months ago

What, local people that we're looking to flip a unit and make easy money actually had to follow through with a contract they commited to? Outrageous!

Those big, mean developers- they should offer a locals discount for all their real estate. Maybe they could start putting coupons in the Steamboat Connection? "Buy any entree and get a luxury condo at a 50% discount." Come on!

The downturn affected everyone up and down the financial "food chain". It doesn't sound like the Wildhorse folks did anything but expect people to follow through with what they agreed upon. They are not the only developers around here (and elsewhere) that have been left with product they can't sell. The locals looking to flip a unit are who got a sour taste of reality.

What does Vail have to do with this?

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rlawson4 4 years, 4 months ago

Many people have lost deposits because they made a decision not to close. This has happened all over the country. The developer built a building based on the fact that they has a certain number of pre-sale deposits. The building could never have been financed without the deposits and pre-sales. The fact that people walked away from closing hurts all parties involved. The developer did in fact build the building and the gondola, so they are entitled to the deposits if people make a business decision not to close. For those that wanted to close but simply could not, the developer is still entitled to the deposits. The fact that banks are not lending is not the fault of the developer. The situation is a shame for all involved but is not the result of the evil developer.

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Neil O'Keeffe 4 years, 4 months ago

I am a local as well as an owner at Trailhead Lodge and I take exception to the comments made by the initial anonymous poster. First the developer has followed through with everything they had promised inspite of the unanticipated downturn in the economy, there were many naysayers from the beginning that were conjecting that the project was in bankruptcy, that the gondola would never be built and so on; all proven to be unsubstantiated BS.

I can speak first hand about how I have been treated by the developers both before, during and after the closing of our property and I must say it was refreshing to deal with professionals that know what they were doing and had the greatest appreciation for what the individual contract holders were going through in terms of liquidity, financing etc. The fact that 30 of 63 original contracts have closed in this environment is a testament to their adaptability and willingness to work with those contract holders who had every intention and ability of owning and not flipping their property. Granted, some may have had every intention of keeping their property but with the downturn lost the ability to get financing or meet the additional equity requirement of the limited lenders in the marketplace; and that is unfortunate but does not invalidate a contract. Speculators were hurt everywhere and they are also partially to blame for the real estate mess we have seen across the country.

Lastly, we are all in agreement that the base area needs to move forward with improvements if we are going to remain competitive with other world class ski resorts and as far as I can tell, of all the proposed projects that we have seen up there that have not ended up a dirt lot and or in bankruptcy, Trailhead Lodge, Steamboat One and Edgemont are the only recent ones that have added to the tax base to help us accomplish this.

But then again opinions are like xxxxxxxx, everyone has one. At least this one is coming from first had knowledge and not hearsay. Just the way I see it!

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 4 months ago

Wildhorse was more aggressive than most, if not all, in not just taking the deposits of people not wanting to close, but threatening to go to court to force buyers to close. That is not friendly, but it may not be an entirely thing to put some discipline into pre-construction buyers.

Note how quickly the target market has shifted with the demographics. A real estate market aiming to sell large (such as 3,500 sq ft) homes targeted to well off early retirees is now suddenly talking about seniors. Baby boomers sure got old fast. And that is true because development is about having the product for what is growing the fastest and by the time construction is complete, that will be seniors. The early retiree market is full of product being sold by the start of the baby boom to those in the middle of the boom and thus that market segment is saturated.

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