Steamboat Springs Mainstreet Steamboat Springs is seeking community reaction to the possibility of the nonprofit assuming oversight of temporary commercial operations on a prominent but unused lot at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.
The site previously was occupied by Stremel’s convenience store for many years, but the red brick building at the eastern entrance to downtown Steamboat next to Rabbit Ears Motel has been empty for years.
Mark Scully — managing director for Green Courte Partners, which owns the property — confirmed Tuesday that he broached the subject with Mainstreet.
“It’s an idea that’s in its infancy,” Scully said. “I don’t think this is a thing that’s about big money. We wanted to make it a Mainstreet focus so they have the first opportunity here. We want to work with them to make downtown better.”
He said he fields numerous requests to use the space for sales events ranging from pumpkins to Christmas trees but doesn’t feel he can accommodate those requests.
Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett called the proposal intriguing and tricky. She said some downtown business owners are wary of Mainstreet taking on an enterprise that might subtract from their own bottom lines as 12-month leaseholders.
“Our goal would be to offer it first to existing local businesses,” Barnett said. “We don’t need velvet Elvis or another knockoff sunglasses guy.”
The soonest something could happen on the property would be August, she added.
The Green Courte property is just across Third Street from the building being remodeled to host the new Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage store. Scully said he expects the grocery will add new retail energy to the corner and create opportunity for others.
“Obviously, it’s the front door to Steamboat,” he said.
Mainstreet is circulating an email poll that is open to people who are not members. It asks: “Should Mainstreet enter into a management contract with the property owner at Third and Lincoln to be able to control the use of that property for outside sales?”
Just as Mainstreet manages the mix of vendors at its popular Saturday farmers market, getting the right mix of operators on the Green Courte site is key, Barnett said.
She envisions that some existing Steamboat businesses might be successful taking part of the Lincoln Avenue frontage during busy tourism weekends.
The site is envisioned for a future mixed-use residential/commercial project. Green Courte was in the city planning process five years ago for a project called River Walk, but Scully has acknowledged the eventual development is being reconsidered.
The plans for temporary commercial activity on the lot would have to go through the city planning process, and Scully said it’s important to him that it be attractive. While the existing building could be used for storage, it could not be occupied by a business, he added.
Barnett said the initial feedback from city planning is that a permit should apply to the property rather than to specific businesses, and it might be a one-year revocable permit.
“The property itself has been kind of an eyesore, and Mark (Scully) knows that,” Barnett said. “It could bring an element of vitality, but I’m concerned for merchants that are downtown year-round.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com