Urban renewal attorney outlines funding options for Yampa Street improvements | SteamboatToday.com

Urban renewal attorney outlines funding options for Yampa Street improvements

— The 22 downtown stakeholders and elected officials who attended a Monday night meeting about the future funding of Yampa Street improvements had plenty of questions for the experienced attorney who spent an hour charting out three possible ways to pay for the upgrades.

And many in the audience left ready to capitalize on the momentum they sense has been growing on the street throughout the past year.

"What’s the next step for us to move this thing forward?" downtown Steamboat Springs developer Mark Scully asked Denver urban renewal attorney Carolynne White near the end of her presentation.

White, who talked about the intricacies and legal ramifications of a business improvement district, an urban renewal authority and a downtown development authority, said stakeholders first need to determine the cost and scope of the improvements they want to fund, and then pick the funding mechanism that would best support them.

White said DDAs, URAs and BIDs have been used to great affect in a diverse set of towns and cities across the state. Her more notable examples included the transformation of Denver’s Union Station district and an agricultural town near Fort Collins that pursued a URA to get itself out of a nearby river’s floodplain.

White added that almost all of the options on the table to fund Yampa Street and greater downtown improvements would require the support of the Steamboat Springs City Council and discussions with other taxing entities, including Routt County and the Steamboat Springs School District.

Scully, who serves on the steering committee of downtown stakeholders who are planning the revitalization project, said the presentation was an important step in what is likely to be a years-long process.

"We’re at a critical juncture where, unfortunately, we’ll have to hire a consultant to do the math for how to put this plan into action," he said.

In addition to downtown stakeholders, Monday’s meeting was attended by two Steamboat City Council members and members of the city’s planning staff.

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs, who invited White to Steamboat to continue the dialogue about improving the downtown area, said he was excited about the opportunities on Yampa Street.

"Everything is poised for great things on Yampa, but there are some fundamental things that have to be fixed before we realize these plans," Gibbs said.

He said the street is in need of basic infrastructure improvements like lighting, storm drains and sidewalks, and the city’s investment in those items is likely to spur more private development.

Scully said that in addition to work being pursued by the city, there’s also momentum stemming from the city’s potential sale of its emergency services building to Big Agnes and Honey Stinger and investments already made in properties including Sweetwater Grill, Howelsen Place and Alpenglow Condominiums.

"We clearly need to keep going," Scully said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com