Our view: Downtown Steamboat is looking spiffy
June 13, 2017
At issue: Improvements along Oak and Yampa streets in downtown Steamboat Springs are beginning to take shape.
Our view: The city’s investment in downtown improvements is paying off and giving Steamboat the facelift it needed.
If you haven't walked down Oak Street in Steamboat Springs lately, you're in for a treat.
Improvements to the downtown street are progressing ahead of schedule with new sidewalks, stamp concrete bump-outs at key intersections, new lighting, undergrounded utilities and some new flowerbeds.
After you take a stroll along Oak, travel a few blocks south, and walk along Yampa Street, where more improvements are on display. A second summer of construction has resulted in artfully designed sidewalks and curb and gutter on both sides of the riverside street, as well as built-in seating in front of several businesses, undergrounded utilities and strings of overhead festival lighting.
These improvements have been in the planning stages for years, and it's nice to finally see the design renderings become reality. The project is being financed by an overall $11.2 million funding package, which was endorsed by the Steamboat Springs City Council last year. Money for the project comes from an inventive combination of capital reserves, debt financing using certificates of participation, special assessments, grants and utility franchise fees.
We realize this project has caused some traffic and pedestrian access issues for businesses, and may have even impacted revenue, but we continue to believe the construction pains will be worth the gains that will be realized when the project is finished.
Already, despite ongoing construction, Yampa Street has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly spot that invites people to walk along the street and enjoy a cocktail and dinner at one of the many restaurants that have located there.
As we stated in previous editorials, the city's willingness to invest in downtown, and Yampa Street in particular, has resulted in private developers making similar investments with the opening of new restaurants, a brewery and new office space, as well as spurring a resurrection of plans for the multi-use RiverView development, which has the potential to literally transform the eastern entrance to downtown.
It's been exciting to watch Yampa Street transform since last summer. And now, with improvements nearly complete on Oak Street, the city's vision of downtown as an enticing entertainment center that encompasses a larger area beyond Lincoln Avenue is becoming real, and we like what we see.
We're also pleased the city stuck to an aggressive timetable to get the work done more quickly, rather than piece-mealing it out over a longer period of time. It's allowed the public to witness a dramatic transformation of downtown, and we expect it will result in a boon for business this summer.
The downtown improvement project not only gives downtown a much-needed facelift, but also serves to further reinforce Steamboat's image as a world-class tourist destination, welcoming visitors to a vibrant downtown business district.