Promenade taking shape for spring
City Council approves $17.5 million bond issuance for base area projects
December 20, 2009
Steamboat Springs — The long-planned promenade at the base of Steamboat Ski Area is set to take shape next spring and summer as crews lay the walkway from Torian Plum Plaza to the Bear River Bar & Grill.
The Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, unanimously approved Tuesday the issuance of $17.5 million in bonds for redevelopment projects at the ski base. City Assistant Finance Director Bob Litzau said that total includes $8.5 million to pay off existing bonds and $2.6 million to repay a loan from the city that helped fund work this year. About $5 million is slated for work scheduled to occur in 2010.
Base area Redevelopment Coordinator Joe Kracum said next year's work would focus on the promenade, the public walkway that will extend in a horseshoe shape across the immediate ski base and is the cornerstone of the multiyear redevelopment project.
On Thursday, Kracum stood by fire pits and stone "seat walls" next to Slopeside Grill. The new, small plaza is the result of work on the promenade that began there in the summer, when crews dug an 18-foot-deep hole to replace a sewer line and install a Burgess Creek diversion structure. The creek ultimately will be daylighted in the summer months and flow alongside the promenade.
The paving around the four fire pits and seating area adjacent to Slopeside provides a preview of the promenade to come.
"This will be the style that you see all along the promenade," Kracum said, brushing aside a thin layer of snow to reveal the plaza.
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Kracum said base area property owners pay the gas utility costs for the fire pits, which also are planned for the Bear River Bar & Grill area.
Kracum said as it stands now, he plans to install snowmelt infrastructure beneath the entire promenade, but he noted that those plans could change according to city finances.
"I think there are some decisions that are going to have to be made," Kracum said.
Kracum said promenade work would begin in April near Torian Plum. The promenade will curve down the hill to Bear River, a location Kracum plans to reach by Thanksgiving next year. The base area construction will coincide with the Colorado Department of Transportation's repaving project on Lincoln Avenue downtown. Kracum acknowledged that base area crews, like those downtown, would face the challenge of working with businesses to minimize the construction impact during tourist season. Kracum said base area crews likely will work seven days a week into June but will shut down for summer weekends to allow for special events.
Redevelopment work at the ski base is a project of the city's urban redevelopment authority, which receives a portion of sales and property taxes within its base area boundaries to finance public improvement projects.
City Council members have asked Kracum and Litzau for more detail about base area redevelopment financing. Litzau said he is preparing an itemized list of redevelopment expenditures since the projects' inception and will present more detailed reports to council members.
"They'll start getting a financial report at every (Redevelopment Authority) meeting," Litzau said.
He said cost projections for base area redevelopment are based on revenues solely from property taxes at the base area. Sales tax revenues — which have been plummeting — help pay off bonds faster or add projects, Litzau said.
"Because of the recession, I think the (urban redevelopment authority) projects have additional importance to keep locals working," Litzau said. He added that "because of the construction slowdown, we're getting a lot better pricing." The $5 million to be spent in 2010, Litzau said, will go "a lot farther than two to three years ago."
"From that standpoint, now is the perfect time to be doing this work," he said.
Kracum said base area work next summer could employ 15 to 20 local workers. He said as always, anyone with questions or concerns about base area redevelopment projects could call his cell phone at 970-871-7077.
"If anybody has anything, they can call me direct," Kracum said. "That keeps it easy."