Developer outlines plans for historic YVEA building |

Developer outlines plans for historic YVEA building

Michael Schrantz

Community members attend the opening and dedication of the new YVEA headquarters in downtown Steamboat Springs in 1956. The electric co-op has put the building under contract with a developer who wants to repurpose it into a building with commercial, residential and retail spaces.

— At an informal meeting of the city of Steamboat Springs' Historic Preservation Commission, Steve Shelesky laid out some early plans for the future of Yampa Valley Electric Association's downtown building.

Shelesky and his development firm, Blue Sage Ventures, are under contract to purchase the building whenever the electric cooperative moves its Steamboat offices to another location.

In addition to the offices, Shelesky also is purchasing the parking lot across 10th Street.

"There was a lot of lineal footage between the two properties where we can get something going down there," Shelesky said.

But the first step is to redevelop the existing building.

The structure that sits there now was built in three phases. The first was designed by Denver architect Eugene D. Sternberg in 1955 and constructed in 1956. The next phase was in 1964, with the bulk of the current building constructed in 1974, Shelesky said.

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"My approach has been to keep the oldest part of the building intact," he said.

The 1974 section of office space will be demolished and the podium and parking area that stand now will support residential space.

"Residential makes the economics work," Shelesky said.

The current plans include retail in the lower level of the building, keeping about 8,500 feet of office space and adding 10,000 feet of residential space.

The bays that now line Yampa Street will become boutique retail and hopefully maintain the same visual effect of the large, roll-up doors.

"If I can coin a genre that isn’t really there, it's going to be sort of garage-industrial flavored retail," Shelesky said.

Shelesky said there's enough space between the bays and the right-of-way to add back-in parking along Yampa Street.

"Just from a development perspective, one of the goals for me is to get this parking to park at city code, and that frees the parking lot to be used for something else," he said about the lot across 10th Street.

"Right now, we can't park this building without that parking lot," Shelesky said, adding that the parking dictates other site improvements and the mix of uses at the YVEA building.

The residential component will include four two-level townhomes, which will be built on top of the concrete podium and set back from Yampa and Ninth streets.

Each townhome will between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet, include a two-car garage and an expansive outdoor terrace with views of Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Ski Area, according to Shelesky and Bill Rangitsch, of Steamboat Architectural Associates.

The terraces will be "the best Winter Carnival party spots in town," Shelesky said.

"From a design approach, how would you approach being complementary but distinct from the original architecture?" City Planning Director Tyler Gibbs asked.

"It's very evolutionary at this point," Rangitsch said.

Shelesky said there are competing forces in historic preservation, energy efficiency and structural requirements but that the thought is to have it read as two separate buildings at the store level: the historic building and the new construction, with the line being where the 1974 section now sits.

Preserving the historic qualities of the original Sternberg design is part of the branding, Shelesky said, and it's always nice when you can do the right thing and it makes economic sense.

"I think it's a really cool building," he said. "I think it's important to YVEA — part of the legacy. We want to keep it and honor it, but we still have code compliance."

"It sounds like you're trying to accomplish what we're trying to accomplish down on Yampa Street," commission member Tracy Barnett said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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