Bill Moser: Don’t screw it up
December 22, 2012
My experience as a real estate broker in Steamboat Springs throughout the past 39 years prompts me to add my 2 cents to the mix regarding the potential sale of the fire and police building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger. Fortunately, we have a few employers in our community that provide good-paying jobs to help smooth the seasonality of our hospitality-based economy. They should be treated as a valuable asset.
One of the prime considerations for evaluating any particular deal is to ask the following question: "If there is any proposed change of use of the property, will it accomplish bringing the property to its highest and best use?"
In the case of the city's sale of the police and fire building on Yampa Street, this sale and the proposed change of use is relatively simple to evaluate. This particular property has strategic importance to the city as well as to the community in general. This site provides a dramatic view of Howelsen Hill. At night and during the day, it is possibly the very best place to observe skiers. It is located next to the Yampa River, where river action takes place as soon as the snow melts. It is on a tree-lined street that could add ambiance to any commercial use. For me, it takes little imagination to realize the current use is not consistent with the goals of our hospitality/lifestyle-based economy. Conversely, its current use does not contribute to the tax rolls because it is a city-owned property. No sales tax revenue comes out of its current use.
This property, along with the Yampa Valley Electric Association building, provides the lynchpin to bring Yampa Street to its highest and best use once their owners move to other sites. True, there are questions about the sale price. They are legitimate, and we all can question the value of the property of the police and fire facility. Special-purpose buildings and government buildings are not valued the same way as commercial/retail properties. However, this property has immense strategic value to the city, namely to be able to elevate the entire Yampa Street to its highest and best use.
I can't imagine that a lower sale price alleged by some people is valid when weighed against the potential economic benefit that the sale can provide to Yampa Street. Additionally, any new owners or tenants will be paying real estate taxes to the county and sales tax to the city, where none are now collected.
Possibly, the current real estate sale contract needs to be tweaked. We now have a willing buyer and seller. Let's not screw this up.