It took a little nerve for EcoCorral developer and K.J. Otterman, of Middle Cog Builders, to break ground on the first of seven buildings in EcoCorral in November 2008. It took even a little more courage to stick to his plans to build to green standards in a struggling economy.
“K.J. had to find a balance between green building and fitting into this market,” said listing broker Joy Rasmussen, of Colorado Group Realty. “Green building can be affordable.”
The EcoCorral represents a rarity in Steamboat Springs — all 24 market-rate townhomes will come developer-equipped with active solar panels. The two end units in the first building heat water with solar energy. The two larger middle units permit larger utility rooms and are able use solar to provide hot water and heat. The energy systems in both models are augmented with gas boilers.
Fifteen months after Otterman broke ground on EcoCorral, the first four townhomes are nearly complete. A furnished model unit just off Hilltop Parkway, between downtown and the mountain, has been debuted to local Realtors. The public is invited to check Rasmussen’s page at Colorado Group to confirm open house dates and times
Two of the four townhomes in the initial building are under contract but haven’t closed, Rasmussen said. Two others are being held by original investors in the project and are not on the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service. They are interested in rolling their investments into the next phase of the project, she said.
Otterman said he based his decision-making in part on research showing that American homebuyers will pay 11 to 25 percent more for green homes and that demand for green homes is expected to increase substantially during the next five years.
Otterman said he is a member of Built Green Colorado, which establishes a minimum of 75 points to qualify for program certification. He said EcoCorral scored 242 points on the first building.
Sustainable construction practices Otterman adhered to, Rasmussen said, include insulated concrete form and structural insulated panels. The townhomes feature Energy Star-rated entry and Anderson patio doors, Cool Roof asphalt shingles, and low-toxicity wood stains and finishes.
The focus now, Rasmussen said, is marketing the unbuilt units in the second building in the project. The 1,663-square-foot, three-bedroom, 3.5-bath units begin at $495,000, and the 2,214-square-foot, four-bedroom, 3.5-bath townhomes begin at $595,000.
Those prices are reduced from the townhomes in the first building that include $50,000 upgrade packages with such details as polished stone shower surround, frosted glass pantry doors, expanded use of wood flooring, a Murphy bed and more elaborate fireplace finishes, among a long list of extras, Rasmussen said.
The EcoCorral townhomes have decks overlooking Howelsen Hill and rear concrete patios with views of the slopes at Steamboat Ski Area. The patios are plumbed for an outdoor natural gas grill.
Ultimately, Otterman is approved to build 28 residences in seven duplex, four-plex and six-plex buildings, including one building with four units dedicated to Habitat for Humanity. The site is on a hill overlooking downtown, is on the city bus system and has a link to the city trail system.
Standard finishes include solid knotty alder interior doors, a custom Douglas fir staircase and railing leading to the second level of the three-level townhome, 9-foot ceilings, hand-troweled wall treatments and engineered walnut flooring.
Rasmussen said she thinks the heated two-car garages are a strong selling point at the asking price.
The main-level floor plan includes a dining area, a granite-topped kitchen island and a gas fireplace fit into one corner. Touches one might not find anywhere include a pantry closet right off the kitchen and a vanity, also tucked behind the kitchen with easy access from the patio.
Another special touch is the patio door with louvered blinds between the glass panes in the door — no dusting and no futzing with blinds that collide with the door handle.
Steamboat Springs subcontractors who worked on the first building include Tucker Hall, of TBH Plumbing and Heating Inc.; Inspiration on the Mountain, who did tile and carpet; and Ferguson, a Wolseley company, which did lighting.
Bob Kingston, of Realign Technology, designed the solar systems at EcoCorral.