If the Yampa Street promenade is selected to receive a portion of the accommodations tax dollars, planners say the project could be completed as early as fall 2015. It would entail adding four new riverside parks, each with a different purpose, on Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and 10th streets.

Downtown Revitalization Partnership/Courtesy

If the Yampa Street promenade is selected to receive a portion of the accommodations tax dollars, planners say the project could be completed as early as fall 2015. It would entail adding four new riverside parks, each with a different purpose, on Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and 10th streets.

Downtown stakeholders say stars are aligning on Yampa Street

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Take a stroll down Yampa Street on a Friday summer evening and you can quickly see the potential.

Cyclists stroll down the roadway past a stream of parked cars as crowds mingle along the roaring Yampa River in the backyards of Sunpie’s Bistro and Sweetwater Grill.

Later in the evening, bar revelers can hit up a new falafel stand tucked across a vibrant bar scene.

For the planners of the Yampa Street promenade, there is perhaps no better time than now for the lodging tax dollars to suddenly become available.

Planners from the Urban Land Institute traveled to Steamboat Springs last year and told the city the Yampa River is this mountain resort community’s jewel, and it was time to take dusty and thick plans to improve the roadway off of shelves and finally make them a reality.

Despite decades-old plans that outlined potential improvements, sidewalks and lighting currently are scarce on Yampa Street, and walkers, skateboarders and cyclists don’t have much room to avoid car traffic. A few riverside properties also sit vacant, and they got no bites in a down economy.

The ULI planners’ visit came as city officials devised a plan to sell their downtown police and fire stations, another unwanted presence on the street, and replace them with growing outdoor retailers BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger.

But the plan ultimately did not come to fruition.

The snag hasn’t stopped downtown stakeholders from planning a major makeover of Yampa Street.

Stakeholders on the funky and well-traveled street that also is home to Sunpie’s “Sing-along Sundays," two relatively new and successful bars, a popular gelato spot and some residences are pushing hard for the city to invest alongside business owners in a plan to revitalize the street.

The group of business owners and Realtors want to convert three available parcels of land into small parks with river access and use the new infrastructure to bring more festivals and events to the area.

“At the end of the day, we have an opportunity to have an impact on our visitors’ experience and our tourists by embarking on this project,” Chris Paoli, of Colorado Group Realty, said in early June. “This is something that is seen by everybody. Felt by everybody. Touched by everybody.”

Each park would take on a different theme and purpose, Paoli said.

One is envisioned to hold a stage and accommodate new music festivals. Another could someday host an ice skating rink.

The most critical, and time sensitive, part of the Yampa River promenade project is the purchase of the three parcels of land that would be converted into the parks.

In their proposal, the downtown stakeholders estimated 603 Yampa St. would cost $675,000 to $1 million to purchase, 655 Yampa St. will cost $1.2 million to $1.4 million and a parcel owned by Yampa Valley Electric Association on 10th Street will cost $400,000 to $1 million.

The business owners also someday hope to construct a new bridge from Seventh Street to Howelsen Hill.

Proponents of the plan readily point to Telluride as a mountain resort community that has used downtown amenities to grow its summer tourism above its winter tourism.

“This promenade could extend our shoulder season,” Paoli said. “We’ll have people lingering in an area where they’re going to spend money with our business owners.” ■

Comments

Pat West 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"In their proposal, the downtown stakeholders estimated 603 Yampa St. would cost $675,000 to $1 million to purchase, 655 Yampa St. will cost $1.2 million to $1.4 million and a parcel owned by Yampa Valley Electric Association on 10th Street will cost $400,000 to $1 million."

I feel I have to ask, who owns these other properties, and what size return do they expect from this sale?

If we are looking to spend $2.1-$3.5 million on real estate to produce parks on Yampa st, shouldn't we first pay off the Iron Horse and bulldoze the site into a park instead? Releasing the city's budget from this Iron noose would surely be a far more responsible use for these funds than either of these current plans.

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John St Pierre 9 months, 3 weeks ago

If these properties are so essential to the health of the city they can be taken by Emminent Domain..and let a court set the value.... this is a BAILOUT for properties that have been on the market for years and powerball ticket for adjacent projects already completed.as their vallues jump... If sidewalks and other improvements need to be made maybe the city can go ahead and do it and then charge evey the land owners effected a PER FOOT cost reimbursement of the costs to the city....

The Yampa business already have the traffic flow... due in a large part to the overall draw of other features of STeamboat.... the Lodging tax should / must be spent on features that continue to attract the visitors that would spend $ on Yampa...

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Cresean Sterne 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yampa St. has always been a pedestrian hot spot and I am glad to see the city wanting to go forward with improving tbe possibilities there..I do like all the ideas that are out there except for an ice rink..I have always thought that Stmbt needed a free out door ice rink and thought something like Caseys Pond could accomodate this. It would visualy be a great entrance to the east side of town. It would also give kids and families something to do together at night which Stmbt is lacking.. As you said Pat, the city needs to solve one problem before creating another..Take their loss, sell the Iron Horse not just to the highest bidder but to someone who has the towns best interest in mind. Turn a prime commercial spot into something great for the town, bringing in revenue and creating more jobs..Steamboat could certainly use it. Maybe a hotel is not tbe best idea..A coffe shop, bike rentals or creating a river recreation for the race course, etc..Just about anything could be possible there if sold to the right investor..(core trail and river access) it realy doesnt get much better for an investment opportunity.. IMO, affordable housing has no place at this location and the city needs to move on with the towns best interest by selling something that has done nothing but loose money and has caused frustration and division amongst many..

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Scott Wedel 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Pat,

That is just the land costs. The improvements to make them parks would not be free.

Well, at least the scale of the proposed gift to existing Yampa St property owners and businesses is becoming clear. What a costly way to improve a business district - have government purchase all the vacant parcels and turn them into parks.

If that is the plan then it would be better for the public for government to use eminent domain to purchase every parcel, bring in a developer to do that side of the street according to the plan and then resell the properties with easements for a path along the river and deed restrictions to preserve river access and such. It would be completely stupid for the City to spend a lot of money on part of a project and then existing private property owners undermine the plan by not building a proper path along the river or so on. That is not meant as a suggestion, but showing how stupid their plan is for government to spend so much making improvements intended to benefit the other property owners on the street.

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