New buyers raise hope at downtown condominium projects |

New buyers raise hope at downtown condominium projects

Jon Lupo

— As they did in December 2010, the luxury condominium projects completed in 2008 and 2009 in downtown Steamboat Springs have enjoyed a burst of activity this winter.

Mark Scully, managing director of Green Courte Partners, confirmed this week that Howelsen Place at Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street has seen four sales since October, with two closings in the last week of February.

There are two more condominiums under contract in The Olympian at Yampa and Fifth streets, and The Victoria at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue also has a condominium under contract.

Scully said vacation rentals in the projects are exposing prospective buyers to the advantages of being based in Steamboat's historic downtown commercial district.

"Our last four purchases were all to visitors who had stayed at Howelsen Place or Alpen Glow (Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue) and who had fallen in love with the downtown Steamboat lifestyle," he said. "The most recent sale was a referral from an existing owner."

That sale Feb. 25 was at 100 percent of asking price and amounted to $523 per square foot. It was a 1,222-square-foot residence that sold for $640,000.

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All four recent sales were at more than $400 per square foot and averaged 96 percent of listing price.

Colleen De Jong — of Prudential Steamboat Realty, who is co-listing Howelsen Place with colleagues Barkley Robinson and Michelle Garner — said one of the recent sales there was an indirect result of the improving real estate market in Denver.

"She was a retiree who was able to sell property on the Front Range so she could convert into this property," De Jong said.

In general, De Jong said she is seeing fresh buyers coming into the Steamboat market.

"I would say we're busy with buyers, more than at this time last year and more that this time two years ago. I'm working with people I've never talked to before," De Jong said.

Alpen Glow, Green Courte's second mixed-use building in downtown Steamboat, has not seen the same sales traffic, but it was off the market for a time while some units were reconfigured. A one-bedroom plus den condominium was converted to a two-bedroom unit, for example.

Nick Metzler — of Colorado Group Realty, who co-lists the Olympian with colleague Chris Paoli as well as with Meg Firestone of Prudential Steamboat Realty – said some buyers are adjusting their mindset to consider buying a vacation home in downtown Steamboat.

"Think about how many hours we actually spend on the ski mountain and how much time we spend roaming downtown," he said. "A lot of people are spending more time downtown, but until you actually experience it, it's hard to realize that."

There are 24 residential condominiums at The Olympian with two pending and 11 sold. At Howelsen Place, 18 of 42 condominiums are sold.

The developer sales at downtown properties also have the advantage of being among the newest vacation condos in Steamboat.

"There's no question the market is kind of demanding new” product, Metzler said. "People are willing to up their price per square foot to get what they want."

Although there is a decreasing supply of new luxury condos in downtown and very little new product is coming online, neither Metzler nor De Jong would say they are in short supply.

"We certainly don't have scarcity," De Jong said. "But our inventory is shrinking, and we're not building anything new, although I think we will."

Metzler said buyers still are looking for a good value, which translates into vacation condominiums priced below replacement cost, but there's a growing awareness that those opportunities won't remain in the market indefinitely.

"We're on the back half of it," Metzler said. "Two years ago, it felt like (buyers) could wait forever." Now, it feels like "over the next 18 months, inventory could be picked over or no longer existing."

Metzler guessed that the next time new product is delivered in the downtown area is beyond five years in the future.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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