Transfer of development rights could keep Steamboat's riverfront local and funky

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— In a bid to preserve the funkiness of existing buildings on the river side of Yampa Street, the downtown revitalization project will engage city government in the spring to explore the possibility of establishing a transfer of development rights program there.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to make this a better pedestrian district and make connections between Yampa Street, Oak, Lincoln and the river,” Steamboat Springs Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said during the annual Mainstreet Steamboat Springs meeting Thursday. “Yampa Street is great, it’s funky, it’s local and we want to keep it funky and local.”

A transfer of development rights implies that a property owner on the south side of Yampa Street whose real estate borders the river would be able to extract more value from the land without having to redevelop a modest building on the site. That would be accomplished by selling and transferring the right to expand a Yampa Street property to a real estate owner in another area of the city designated for expanded development rights.

Gibbs cited Sunpie’s Bistro as an example of a relatively small building on a good-sized lot where a transfer of development rights might make sense.

“I think we all agree keeping Yampa Street this size is a good goal,” Gibbs said.

Mark Scully, chairperson of the revitalization committee, agreed with Gibbs that exploring the possibilities of a transfer of development rights was a high priority for his group along with moving forward in tandem with plans for a business improvement district tax and a downtown urban renewal authority.

The urban renewal authority would allow the downtown area to capture future growth in property taxes in a defined area to help leverage bonds to underwrite public improvements like a promenade and pocket parks along the river.

The business improvement district tax would ask voters in the district this fall to agree to a tax to help with the cost of those public improvements.

Scully said he was involved in a successful effort to bring a public park to a suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood through a transfer of development rights program.

New president sets volunteer goal

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Tom Simmins

In other business Thursday, outgoing Mainstreet President Bill Moser introduced his successor, Tom Simmins, a vice president with Resort Group.

Simmins said his goals include increasing the membership and volunteer base of the organization.

Tamara Beland, executive director of the Chief Theater, told the gathering she, too, is seeking volunteers as she moves forward on booking entertainment for the spring and summer.

Beland teased the Mainstreet membership with the possibility that famed Denver chanteuse Lannie Garrett, of Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret, might bring a performance of “Chicks Sing Sinatra” to the Chief.

“We have decided not to go dark for the next three years" during a capital campaign to raise funds to remodel the theater, Beland said. “We want to keep the doors open for the arts and other nonprofits."

Shows being pursued include a vaudeville follies performance, the Perry-Mansfield New Works festival for playwrights, New York jazz guitarist Adam Rafferty, a film festival, skit nights with Pirate Theater and perhaps a performance of the classic play, “Spoon River Anthology.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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