New Mainstreet Steamboat Springs board president has grand plans for downtown
January 28, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Jon Sanders is the kind of guy who would rather do a cartwheel when he crosses Lincoln Avenue instead of just walking across the street.
And at the age of 33, he’s the youngest and one of the most energetic people to ever take the helm of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs.
"People believe I’m in this spot for a reason, and I believe it’s because of my passion and my energy, and I’m not afraid to stand up and debate it," Sanders said Monday in one of the many offices he works out of in Steamboat Springs. "They know I follow through and that I come with energy and I believe in downtown."
Sanders is assuming Mainstreet’s board presidency at the start of what he said will be one of the most important years in downtown’s history.
An election to fund the existing downtown business improvement district is being planned for November.
The city of Steamboat Springs is looking into the possibility of using an urban renewal authority to fund improvements, and a new lodging tax steering committee has been formed to help oversee the funding of improvements on Yampa Street.
"To lay these mechanisms over downtown right now will help to fund a better downtown in the future," he said. "It’s so important. It’s important for our real estate values. It’s important to get more tenants and more development and more improvements."
He said if downtown leaders can help to get the BID funded and other mechanisms in place, he imagines a downtown "where I can walk my kids from Pine Street to Yampa Street without leaving the sidewalks."
Sitting in his office at Wildhorse Meadows on Monday, Sanders took some time between fielding phone calls and working on real estate projects to engage with people on Mainstreet’s Facebook page, especially on the prospect of a new property tax downtown to fund the BID.
"I want people to be more active in the conversation." he said. "If the majority of people downtown don’t think the URA and the BID is right, let’s hear about it right now."
To understand how much energy Sanders has, it’s important to first look at his daily workload.
During the day, he’s an owner/broker for Ski Town Commercial Real Estate, the CEO of Steamboat Floodsuckers and a creative for http://www.steamboattonight.com.
He also has three young children, and he brings up this fact often as he talks about his visions for the future of downtown.
Having always had a dream of relocating to a ski town and starting a business, Sanders moved here in 2007.
Until he had jobs secure, he lived out of his car and slept on couches for six weeks.
In recent months, he’s been a regular attendee of the downtown revitalization meetings, often speaking up and stressing there is a sense of urgency to getting improvement projects done.
"One of the things I want to do is manage (Mainstreet) like it’s a business," he said.
When he was introduced earlier this month at Mainstreet’s annual meeting, Sanders was praised by past board members for his energy and his new ideas.
He’s one of the most vocal members of a small but growing group of younger downtown stakeholders working to better their city.
"The guy’s not afraid to take on a challenge," Mainstreet Steamboat program manager Tracy Barnett said Tuesday. "He’s absolutely amazing. He’s a go-getter, and that’s exactly what we need right now."