Downtown Steamboat's Chief Plaza theater update moving forward

News delivered at annual Mainstreet meeting


— Friends of the Chief spokesman Jim Cook delivered encouraging news Friday for those supportive of the nonprofit group’s effort to renovate the historic Chief Plaza movie theater.

Cook told the audience at the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs annual meeting that Friends of the Chief had been asked to submit a final application for a $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to convert the 1920s-era, four-screen theater in downtown Steamboat to a single-stage, 455-seat performing arts center.

“That, in essence, means you’ve been approved,” Cook told the audience.

Friends of the Chief previously submitted a pre-application to the USDA.

After the meeting, Cook said Friends of the Chief would know for sure whether it receives the funding in May, after completing a feasibility study. If approved, Cook said Friends of the Chief would start fundraising for the $7 million project.

Despite the news about the grant, Cook acknowledged there’s still a long way to go.

“While you think there might be a great deal of relief, you have the next step,” he said. “I personally won’t let any demolition take place until we have all the money.”

Cook said the best-case scenario for construction was spring 2013 with completion in spring 2014.

To date, Cook said Friends of the Chief has raised and spent less than $100,000, including $50,000 to secure the earnest payment to buy the theater last fall from owner Michael Barry. The sale price wasn’t disclosed, but the theater was listed for sale at $2.9 million.

Cook said the vision of the group is for the theater to serve as a performing arts center for community players and nonprofit groups, and Friends of the Chief has worked with Integrated Community to make it available to groups from the Latin American and West African communities. He said it also would be available for conferences and weddings, with the capacity to hold 750 people for standing-room-only events.

Other Mainstreet news

Also at the annual meeting, Mainstreet Steamboat Manager Tracy Barnett gave a short “State of Mainstreet” presentation.

She said downtown sales tax collections in 2011 exceeded every corresponding month from 2010 with the exception of January. Although eight downtown businesses closed last year, Barnett said 14 opened and three others moved into the district. She said five condominium and three commercial building sales totaled $6.34 million. And Barnett said more than $2 million in public infrastructure improvements were made last year, mostly by the city.

“Things are looking up,” she said. “There are still some businesses that aren’t out of the woods, but in general, people have streamlined their businesses. There’s a vibrancy and energy that hasn’t been there in a while. People aren’t ready to give a sigh of relief, but they’re thinking about it.”

For Mainstreet, specifically, Barnett said volunteers donated 896 hours totaling more than $19,300 in in-kind labor. She said the 14-week Mainstreet Farmers Market generated about $25,000 in revenue for the organization and $5,600 in sales taxes for the city. Barnett said Mainstreet is looking to expand the farmers market this year after it was maxed out with 67 booths last year.

Other Mainstreet fundraisers the Downtown Hoedown and Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge generated about $6,000, and Sisters in Steamboat broke even, Barnett said. She said Mainstreet’s 137 members — about two-thirds of downtown retailers, two-thirds of downtown restaurants and one-fourth of downtown services and offices — generated another $23,000 for the organization.

In 2012, Barnett said Mainstreet hopes to find out whether it was named one of five Great American Mainstreet Award winners, create a creative district downtown, continue the visioning for future Yampa Street improvements and decide whether to pursue a property tax in the existing business improvement district for a more consistent funding source for the Mainstrett program and marketing and advertising for the downtown district.

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs

Also Friday:

■ Barnett recognized outgoing Mainstreet Board of Directors member Shauna Lamansky and welcomed new member Kassandra Collins, owner of Acqua Spa and Salon on Oak Street.

■ Barnett showed the video that Mainstreet created for the Great American Mainstreet Awards.

■ HJ Stalf, former executive director of the Grand Junction downtown development authority and business improvement district, spoke about his experience with elections to fund marketing and advertising of downtown districts.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


mavis 5 years, 1 month ago

WHAT???? Let me get this straight... the Department of Ag MIGHT give $4 million to fix the Downtown Theatre???? How do they correlate?? Are we turning it into a feed lot, a butcher shop?? Are we growing hay, potatoes, corn or grain there?? WRONG WRONG WRONG Steamboat needs to regroup- but unfortunately it is going to take hitting bottom for most of you to realize the little "livin on the government dream" can't sustain itself and at some point you are going to have to make it on your own!!! WITHOUT A NEW TAX TO PAY FOR YOUR BUSINESS OR JOB to Exist in STEAMBOAT


stillinsteamboat 5 years, 1 month ago

Amen Mavis! How many of us are preaching "too much government" EXCEPT when it pertains to our pet project?


mtroach 5 years, 1 month ago

Common naysayers, they did raise almost $100,000 of the $7,000,000,000 needed!


sedgemo 5 years, 1 month ago

What it has to do with Ag puzzles me, too, but the article clearly states it is a LOAN, not a grant.


snowbirds 5 years, 1 month ago

Editor, Sedgemo, etc. - PLEASE reread the article. In one place it's called a "loan" and in another place, it is called a "grant." I think one has to pay back a loan, but does NOT pay back a grant. Hopefully, Jack Weinstein can clarify this for us ? ? ? ?


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 1 month ago

snow, all the proofreaders have been sent to reeducation camps.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 1 month ago

It is the USDA because this is considered an ag area and so USDA does all of the local economic stuff related to the federal government as well as direct ag related stuff. Presumably, because in the 1930s the ag areas were remote and it is was more efficient to have one federal dept with a local employee with knowledge of the area directing federal assistance. Remember back then there were areas without phones or electricity. Private companies unable to recognize that things have substantially changed over the past 80 years have gone bankrupt. Politicians like keeping things the same so they can more easily be controlled. How many elected officials do you think would show up to share in the credit if they get the money?


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 1 month ago

roach, this loan is way more better! Taxpayers nationwide will be on the hook for this one.


cheesehead 5 years, 1 month ago

If the government offers you money (tax credits, deductions, grants, subsidies...) take it. Americans (rich and poor) do it everyday.


BeCoolHoneyBunny 5 years ago

"The loan would come from a program tailored for communities of fewer than 15,000 people seeking to acquire a cultural facility, Cook said. The Friends are working with the Delta office of the USDA on the financing, which would allow as long as a 40-year term with interest rates locked in at the prime rate, he said."


mavis 5 years ago

YVB--Going to be the downfall of the Government?? It has been for a while and is now on a full petal to the metal pace of self destruction. Then you have people like cheesehead cruising on "what everyone else is doing." Teach that strategy to your children and TADA..... we have a bunch of freeloaders trying to live off invisible money, but they are "GREEN and SUSTANIABLE," (only with self created taxes and groups to fund themselves) WHILE they are actually destroying the possibilities for their children and grand children.


sedgemo 5 years ago

Snow, back in my newspaper days the standard was to write the most salient factual information in the first paragraph, then as you wrote on you could add more detail but the presumption was always that the copy editor would cut from the bottom to fit the page layout. So you'd always put the less pertinent information lower down. In this article, the first mention is of a loan, then further down it's the author's interpretation that it is a grant.

I don't know which is true but standard procedure weights the first information more. This paper may have its own rules.


cheesehead 5 years ago

YVB, I won't say it makes it right, I guess its one of those "don't hate the player, hate the game" kind of deals. I don't blame people for taking full advantage of the system when the system is designed to be taken advantage of. But that doesn't mean I like it.


Scott Wedel 5 years ago

The trouble with "that is just the game" excuse is how quickly those benefiting from the flawed game will then defend the current situation. Romney is quick to say that he is just paying the taxes that are required under the earned interest loophole. He is not so quick to say he and others in that business also opposed attempts to change it several years ago. They financed enough lobbyists and a PR campaign that made it politically too hard for Congress to fix the loophole.

Just as very few that seek the USDA money for rebuilding a theater (that the local theater group say is unsuitable for them) will then say the money is a bit silly and support closing down the program.


jk 5 years ago

It strikes me funny how YVB preaches up one side and down the other, how government hand outs will be the folly of this country. Yet he still ends most of his comments with "feed the birds". I keep trying to make sense of this? A hand out is ok for birds? What happens to them when you are gone YVB? Who will provide that extra sustenance when you are no longer there to take care of your beloved birds? Are you not training them to be reliable on your handouts? Yet you criticize everyone for doing the same when it comes to government money.

I don't think it is right to be taking this gov't money for these types of projects, but I don't feed the birds either!


jk 5 years ago

yvb strikes back with some self absorbed babble. I wasn't trying to find any hidden meaning, I was merely wondering why the pot is calling the kettle black.

Sorry yvb I won't feed the birds, all they end up doing is making a bunch of noise and crapping all over everything.Hmm sounds familiar.


sledneck 5 years ago

I'm with JK; screw the birds. In the spring their 5:am cackling makes me want to shoot 'em, not feed 'em. There is a good reason birds are called fowl... rymes with foul... which they are.


rhys jones 5 years ago

In my next life, I want to be a bird. The question is, what kind? Mighty Eagle, or quick Hummingbird? Wise old Owl, or happy songbird? I knew a bird named Ben, an African something, could carry on a conversation with you. Crack you up. Another one could whistle the theme from "Bridge On The River Kwai" verbatim, even had a repertoire. Their keeper, my ex-sister-in-law (dead bro') was somewhat flighty herself, had 20-some more. Some believe birds' chirps are a code they can understand just like whales and their bellows. All birds have a substance in their brains called "magnetite" which is in alignment with the Earth's gravity and magnetic field, so they know where they are at all times. (This from a technician at the raptor center where they were releasing a now-healed eagle once.)

Ben would ride around on my shoulder, talking to me, and reminding me of birds' main shortcoming, the inability to control their bowels. I wore my leather for this. Wouldn't that also be an advantage, pooping anywhere you want, your friends not caring? They frown on that, in this life.


Kevin Nerney 5 years ago

Getting back to the point of the article. Great just what we need! another 500 seat theater. We already have a 500 seat theater in the Strings in the Mountain Tent. We had a third but that came down with the rest of the stuff in Ski Time Sq. Why can't we get a real venue with 2000 seats and then we could attract real talent and wouldn't have duplication of yet another "I got mine",small minded effort.


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