Steamboat Springs A new redevelopment project in the works at the base of Steamboat Ski Area has the potential to start restoring the large inventory of commercial, retail and restaurant spaces that were lost in 2008 when Ski Time Square was demolished.
The Clock Tower Square building, the Xanadu condominiums and some vacant land on the 2.6-acre site nestled between Burgess Creek Road and Ski Time Square Drive now is under contract with developers who see great potential in the property.
Over the next few years, Blue Sage Ventures is aiming to be a big part of a new sort of renaissance at the base area by sprucing up the iconic Clock Tower Square and adding new residences and commercial spaces around it.
Steve Shelesky and Dave Wilson, the principals of Blue Sage Ventures, said Monday the initial vision for the property is to renovate the Clock Tower Square building and to find new tenants for the commercial spaces.
"It's like a blank canvas down there," Shelesky said of the greater base area from his office above E3 Chophouse on Yampa Street. "There's all sorts of vacant land. The base area really isn't even there yet. It's clearly underperforming. We think the window here has never been better."
Clock Tower Square has 13,000 square feet of commercial space, and much of it currently is empty.
In 2009, the owners of the property hoped to build a large luxury condominium project on the site that would have included 49,000 square feet of commercial space and a spa.
It was put up for sale in 2010 after that project wasn't realized.
Under the latest development proposal from Blue Sage Ventures, the aging Xanadu condominiums next door could be razed to make way for a new residential development in a later phase of the plan.
The tenants at Xanadu recently were asked to move out after being told that the heating and electrical systems at the 49-year-old property may be near the end of their functional life.
Shelesky said the request for the tenants to move out was not related to his potential purchase of the property.
Tenants at Xanadu were on month-to-month leases and were offered two months worth of rent if they moved out four days after they were given the notice.
Shelesky said it was his desire to keep the tenants in the building while the redevelopment was being planned so the project could accrue income.
The redevelopment project is likely to start with the commercial spaces and move in later years to the residential spaces, he said.
"If there's a step one or phase one, it's going to be to pursue a renovation and retenanting of the Clock Tower commercial space, and I would say an enhancement of the common areas," Shelesky said. "We'd like to preserve it and enhance it."
He said the Clock Tower building would become a centerpiece of a development that could have three to four phases.
One early concept mentioned for the site includes a space for a grocery store similar to what Market on the Mountain was before it closed.
Shelesky and Wilson said this piece of property caught their eye for a number of reasons.
For one, the base area lost several restaurants and commercial spaces when Ski Time Square was demolished in 2008 to make way for a new base area that never was realized because of the economic recession.
Since the demolition of Ski Time Square, the area has seen new residential development and infrastructure improvements like a promenade but not a big uptick in commercial options or restaurants.
Things got quieter when the Tugboat went dark in August 2013.
"We can deliver product in the near term that fills a need that has otherwise gone unmet," Shelesky said. "There is some existing density there that I think is underserved."
A nearby parking garage and walkability to the base area also were enticing to the developers.
Shelesky said under the current timeline, the sale of the property could close in the fall with some activity ramping up there early next year. The property is owned by First National Denver.
He said the redevelopment could add 80,000 to 100,000 square feet of new product at the base area.
David Baldinger Jr., a base area realtor and stakeholder who has helped make recommendations for public improvements in the area, welcomed the news the property was under contract.
"It would be the first new investment in the base area in some time," Baldinger Jr. said. "Hopefully, it will reinvigorate the neighborhood on a step-by-step basis."
The base area isn't the only part of town attracting the attention of Shelesky and Blue Sage Ventures.
The developer also is under contract on the Yampa Valley Electric Association building and plans to convert the building into a mix of commercial, retail and residential spaces.
"We're confident we'll get it to work and close on it probably early next year," Shelesky said of that project.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10