Real estate: Steamboat primed for a new kind of planning | SteamboatToday.com

Real estate: Steamboat primed for a new kind of planning

Mike Lawrence

On the ‘Net

¤ Read about Cafritz Interests, the Washington, D.C. real estate developer that recently purchased Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge, on the Web at

http://www.cafritzinterests.com/index.html.

¤ Read about Wildhorse Meadows, a multi-year, resort-style development project on Mount Werner Road adjacent to the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, on the Web at http://www.wildhorsemead…

¤ Read about Summerlin, a 22,500-acre master planned community built by partners involved in Steamboat West, which recently purchased 540 acres west of downtown Steamboat, on the Web at http://www.summerlin.com…

The feel and character of Steamboat Springs is changing – again.

What was once a ranching and mining community that received much of its sales tax from tourists headed for Salt Lake City on U.S. Highway 40, and what is now a ski-oriented city off the beaten path from more posh resorts like Vail and Aspen, is becoming a worldwide, year-round tourist destination marked by luxury hotels and third- or fourth-homeowners.

Recommended Stories For You

“Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on which side you’re on – I think Steamboat has been discovered,” said Jack Ferguson, owner of the Mount Werner Lodge at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Ferguson was responding to the $53.9 million purchase of Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge by Washington, D.C., real estate developer Cafritz Interests. The purchase was another falling domino in the incredibly sweeping redevelopment suddenly occurring not only at the ski base, but across all of Steamboat.

A month earlier, a group called Steamboat 700 purchased 540 acres just west of the city for $24.6 million. The group also is expected to acquire 160 adjoining acres, and now operates under the name Steamboat West.

Weeks before that purchase, the $265 million sale of Steamboat Ski Area to Intrawest ULC, owned by Fortress Investments, was finalized.

Most recently, Starwood Hotels, one of the world’s largest hotel and timeshare companies, purchased the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel and the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Club for just less than $57 million.

That’s about $400 million in real estate purchases in a span of three months – not including numerous large-scale development projects in downtown Steamboat and around the ski base.

“It really puts us at the top of the pile for ski areas and resort communities, in terms of redevelopment,” City Manager Alan Lanning said about all the activity. “We’re going to be in a position where if there’s a piece of dirt, there’s going to be a backhoe on it.”

Now what?

After the Ski Time Square purchase, city officials and base area planners said ideas for a new, pedestrian-oriented village at the ski base – ideas that are have always been purely conceptual – could become a reality within a few years.

Similar village- and pedestrian-oriented themes can be found in development plans across Steamboat, or at least in the histories of developers who have recently purchased here.

For example, take a minute and read the five community descriptions below.

Then guess which, if any, are referring to Steamboat.

– “The Village Center District is the heart of the community. The goal is an economically viable, pedestrian-oriented, attractive area to serve the needs of both residents and visitors:a flourishing core of retail shops, sidewalk cafes and outdoor dining experiences.”

– “Well known for the splendor of its natural surroundings as it is for the beauty of its streets, parks and neighborhoods:delivers an incomparable lifestyle and quality of life for its residents. An abundance of parks, trails and golf courses come together with exceptional schools, houses of worship, cultural facilities, shopping centers, business parks and medical facilities along with over 150 model homes:”

– “An integrated, practical, architecturally rich:community with a mix of housing types. :From single-family homes to townhomes to:lofts and boutique hotels, there’s a place for everyone. :Residents and guests alike will work, play and gather at the Ranch House, buy staple goods at the Country Store, abandon their cars for the comprehensive walking and biking trails.”

– “The plan includes creating a mixed-use village center with a grocery store as the retail anchor, with offices, housing, and other neighborhood shops nearby, including restaurants and a pharmacy. A village green will be the center of the development, and the focal point of the community.”

– “It is the center for commercial activities and:contains a series of commercial/retail nodes:it includes a variety of office, commercial, and retail space serving a regional market. : The area’s orientation was, and continues to be, recreational. Commercial activity includes hotels, shops, restaurants and condominiums.”

Well?

The first description is about a new economic and cultural hub for the city of Del Mar, near San Diego. Mayor Carl Hilliard wrote the passage in January.

The second comes from the Web site for Summerlin, a massive planned community near Las Vegas developed by partners who are now involved in Steamboat West. While Summerlin spans 22,500 acres, compared to an eventual 700 acres for the Steamboat West project, the community’s scope gives an idea of the thinking and capabilities of Steamboat West developers.

The third is about the Wildhorse Meadows development, which will include single-family homes, luxury homes, a hotel, and condominiums on 44 acres.

The fourth is about Fallbrook Village, a community currently under development near Lincoln, Neb.

Finally, the fifth description is from the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan, talking about the ski base area.

The similar themes and language show a trend in community planning that, with the purchases of recent months, has arrived in Routt County.

In a few years, Steamboat Springs will morph from a city of basically two sections – downtown and the mountain area – into a city of several self-contained communities. Wildhorse Meadows, Steamboat West, Steamboat Barn Village, the ski base, downtown, entry corridors, outlying areas such as Steamboat II and Heritage Park, and the Riverwalk development on Yampa Street – a strip marked by developer Jim Cook for several projects in years to come – will all be different communities in what could become an increasingly segmented city.

Steamboat III, IV:

Old Town was once the hub for Steamboat. Now, it may soon become one of many districts.

Cafritz President Steve Peer has strongly suggested that his company plans to raze existing buildings – which are nearly 40 years old – to redevelop Ski Time Square.

Lanning said Steamboat West partner Danny Mulcahy has begun meeting with city planning staff about preliminary site concepts, which Lanning said include “a self-contained town center.”

When Mulcahy formally introduced himself and his partners to the Steamboat Springs City Council on May 1, Mulcahy said preliminary planning for the west of downtown site is under way. Steamboat West hopes to begin working with the city on development proposals as soon as this summer.

Jim Weber, Steamboat’s director of public works, said time will tell how the sweeping redevelopments, particularly at the base area, will play out.

“(There are) a lot of interesting features, components and ideas,” Weber said. “But implementation is always another story.”

– Story by Mike Lawrence

On the ‘Net

¤ Read about Cafritz Interests, the Washington, D.C. real estate developer that recently purchased Ski Time Square and Thunderhead Lodge, on the Web at

http://www.cafritzinterests.com/index.html.

¤ Read about Wildhorse Meadows, a multi-year, resort-style development project on Mount Werner Road adjacent to the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, on the Web at http://www.wildhorsemead…

¤ Read about Summerlin, a 22,500-acre master planned community built by partners involved in Steamboat West, which recently purchased 540 acres west of downtown Steamboat, on the Web at http://www.summerlin.com…