Our View: Turning a negative into a positive
July 29, 2014
Yampa Valley Electric Association's purchase of 15 acres of TIC's now-empty campus in West Steamboat as the site for its new headquarters made headlines all last week. Like many other business and community leaders, this editorial board views the real estate deal as a smart business decision and a win-win situation for the local electric cooperative and the community as a whole.
When TIC announced it was putting its former industrial campus on the market, there was speculation about what the property would become. Some thought it would be a good place to house a local food processing hub and others thought the property could be converted into a grocery store or shopping mall. There wasn't much talk about YVEA's moving to the site, but in hindsight, it seems like a perfect match.
With the facility's existing truck bays, offices and massive storage space, the building and grounds seem as if they were designed specifically to meet YVEA's growing needs. The site's location at the west entrance to Steamboat also provides a great opportunity for the cooperative to enhance one of the gateways to town in the same way it has with its building on Craig's east side.
YVEA's move to the TIC campus will happen more quickly than if the cooperative had pursued new construction on previously purchased property. The former TIC property already is zoned industrial, and YVEA President and CEO Diane Johnson said the cooperative soon will begin moving some of the poles and transformers that it keeps at a storage yard in the Brooklyn neighborhood to the new site. Having this ability to house inventory in one place at the same location as its offices and vehicle bays is another huge benefit for YVEA.
We also see the potential for the Yampa Street revitalization project to move forward at a faster pace thanks to an accelerated timeline for YVEA's move out of its old headquarters building on the busy street. According to Johnson, the building already is under contract with a developer who is working on plans to repurpose the building into a mixed use project, including commercial, retail and residential space.
In purchasing the former TIC property, YVEA has announced the possibility of leasing out office space on the property to other entities. The deal also left TIC with a smaller parcel of land and a training facility near Downhill Drive that the company could sell.
With these options in mind, we think the city of Steamboat Springs should consider looking at the remaining property as another possible building site for a new police station. Initially, the city approached TIC's parent company Kiewit about utilizing a portion of the site for its police station. When it appeared, the property had to be purchased in its entirety for a hefty price tag, the city decided to look elsewhere.
With the city still undecided on where it wants to build its new police station, we think city leaders would be wise to take another look at the site.
Whether the city considers purchasing a portion of the TIC property or possibly leasing space from YVEA, it is definitely worth another look. We propose that the city at least add this option to its list of potential police station sites and vet its possibilities.
YVEA's purchase of the TIC property has potential for lasting impact. The closing of TIC's campus in Steamboat was a huge loss for the local community, and last week's sale officially marks the end of the company's 30-year history here. But the fact that the property was purchased by another local business with strong roots in the Yampa Valley turns a negative into a positive and signals a new opportunity for growth.