Historic Elk River ranch sells for $11.25 million

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— The 490-acre Sweetwood Ranch on the Elk River 5 miles north of Steamboat Springs has been sold for $11.25 million.

Originally known as the May Ranch for most of the 20th century, the property at 44285 Routt County Road 129 more recently was owned by cattle rancher Ryan Wood, one of the founding members of the Under Armour sports apparel brand.

After more than 1 1/2 years on the market, Wood sold the property Sept. 12 to a seller listed as the Tamara Diane Miller Revocable Trust.

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According to an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle last year for Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney's daughter, Tamara Diane Miller is Walt Disney's granddaughter.

The real estate broker who represented the buyer said that while she couldn't confirm the buyer's status as a relative of Disney, the buyer had lived in Steamboat before and was eager to return full time.

“Her decision to return was because of this community and the rural attributes it has,” said Penny Fletcher, a broker with Colorado Group Realty. “She was looking for something unique and different, and this was great ground for her horses.”

The property sold below its asking price of $12.95 million, and Fletcher said she thought the property was worth far more.

Wood purchased the property in 2007 under the company name RSW Holdings for $5 million, according to county records. Significant upgrades have been made since, according to the property's real estate listing online at Hall and Hall, a real estate agency that sells primarily ranches.

Because of the size and unique features of the property, finding a suitable buyer could have been tricky, Fletcher said.

The ranch has several buildings on it, including a 2,674-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath main “Bridge House,” with a river rock fireplace, barn wood ceilings and stone slab countertops, according to the listing.

There are also two historic cabins, two barns, a shop, storage garage, shed and an outdoor equestrian arena.

In addition to the 490 acres purchased, the new owner will have the opportunity to take over a 7,500-acre grazing permit for nearby national forest land, the listing said.

A conservation easement placed on the property by the May family in 1997 bars major developments on the land by the new owner.

“The buyer valued that conservation easement,” Fletcher said. “She has no intention to split things off. The intention is just that her and her family could enjoy the property for generations to come.”

Fletcher said the buyer likely will make modifications to the property, like removing cattle pens, to shift the focus away from cattle ranching to become more equestrian friendly.

Real estate broker Brian Smith, of Hall and Hall real estate, represented Wood as the seller but said he'd been asked not to comment on the sale.

Fletcher said she thought Wood moved his cattle-rearing efforts to the Front Range and no longer operated out of Steamboat Springs.

She said Wood has made lots of improvements on the property that the new owner will value.

“The seller had a labor of love into that property,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher, who also sits on the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, said the ranch's sale is significant for the local market.

“We haven't had a sale go down like this in a long time,” Fletcher said. “This is something that's really positive.”

Fletcher said other ranches bordering the Elk River had been on the market far longer before selling.

“This shows that unique properties are coming to the attention of some buyers,” Fletcher said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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