Steamboat Springs That big hole in Gondola Square is for water- and sewer-line work that is the first phase of this summer’s base area redevelopment.
Construction is well under way at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum said crews are setting the stage for future public improvements, including a promenade and the daylighting of Burgess Creek, with infrastructure work from Gondola Square to Torian Plum Plaza.
The work is part of an about $2.5 million redevelopment project approved in May by the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority. Meanwhile, city finance officials are continuing efforts to refinance the city’s $17.5 million base area redevelopment loan, potentially through a new, fixed-rate bond that could allow the release of additional redevelopment funds this summer.
“We could know a whole lot more in two weeks,” Steamboat Springs Finance Director Deb Hinsvark said Monday about refinancing efforts.
Kracum said crews have plenty to do while those negotiations continue.
“We’re going to be doing underground work through this summer,” Kracum said Tuesday. “We’re planning on finishing in mid-October.”
The pipe work will install water and sewer lines with a larger capacity, which Kracum said the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District specified to handle new development at the ski base. Also scheduled for this summer is work to reconfigure the hillside that slopes from Torian Plum Plaza toward Gondola Square.
The city awarded a contract of about $4.5 million to Duckels Construction in April for this summer’s work.
Construction plans stalled in April, though, after a contentious bid process and a default notice from U.S. Bank. That notice put perceptions of the project’s financing on shaky ground and spurred a flurry of negotiations between city staff and bank officials.
U.S. Bank removed default conditions on the loan in a deal reached May 6. The deal allowed the immediate use of $2.5 million, provided that the remainder of this year’s funds, also about $2.5 million, be held in a construction account.
A refinanced loan could allow use of that remaining $2.5 million. Not having access to those remaining funds has changed construction staffing at the ski base, Derick Duckels of Duckels Construction said Tuesday.
Duckels said about 20 people are working on base area redevelopment at the moment. That’s a sharp contrast to the employment figure he cited in May, when he said about 200 workers could be on the job this summer, including subcontractors and other crews.
“With the scope they gave us, it’s not going to be nearly that many,” he said.
Duckels said with the current funding, base area construction could top out at about 75 workers this summer. That could add to employment woes felt in a local construction industry and job market that have been hit hard by the economic recession.
Duckels also said that regardless of additional funding later this summer, there likely “wouldn’t be many amenities that will get done this year,” meaning visitors to the ski area next winter likely won’t notice many new features above-ground.
Duckels and Kracum said most of this summer’s work is underground and infrastructure-related. Kracum said a refinancing deal could increase this summer’s work somewhat if it allowed the use of additional funds early enough — meaning in August, he said — but he’s not holding his breath.
“At this point, we’re in a wait-and-see mode,” Kracum said. “What we’re trying to do this summer is set it up so we can get the bulk of the work done when the rest of the funding comes in next year.”
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org