Steamboat 700 developers draw crowd to Olympian Hall | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat 700 developers draw crowd to Olympian Hall

John Fallon, in the cowboy hat, a resident of the Sleepy Bear neighborhood, makes an emphatic point with land-use planner Peter Patten of Patten Associates about his concerns storm water runoff from Steamboat 700 could lead to spring flooding along Slate Creek. Looking on are Realtors Bobby Aldighieri, far left, and Barkley Robinson.

— More than 170 people crowded into Olympian Hall Thursday night to glimpse a big part of the future of Steamboat Springs.

They were there to get a first look at conceptual plans for the Steamboat 700 development that has the potential to add about 2,000 homes to the city.

Project manager Danny Mulcahy, one of the owners of the project, gathered his team of land use planners, engineers and landscape architects to engage the public. They sought reactions to their tentative plans to roll out a broad mix of housing products on 700 acres north of U.S. Highway 40 during the next 20 years.

The people who turned out saw samples of affordable housing products already constructed in other mountain towns. They reviewed road maps and traffic projections. People wanted to bend the developers’ ears about everything from spring runoff to the most energy efficient means of heating homes.

Mulcahy said the turnout at the meeting was an affirmation of his desire to take the project to the community in its conceptual form before entering the formal planning process with local government. By doing so, he said, he hopes to address community concerns from the beginning of the process.

John Whittum of the Community Alliance said Mulcahy had already met with his group.

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“They’re really soliciting community input,” Whittum said. Mulcahy “is a really bright guy who has done his homework.”

Mulcahy, who runs a company called DM Hollo Management, is one of several principal owners in Steamboat 700. The others are Mark L. Fine Associates and Jim Zeiter of Insight Realty Holdings.

Together they purchased 540 acres of land within the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan boundaries from Mary Brown and Steve Brown for $24.6 million. They have contracted to buy an additional 160 adjoining acres.

The area of Routt County known as the West of Steamboat is roughly bounded on the east by the Steamboat Springs Airport and West End Village subdivision, and on the west by the Silver Spur subdivision. The developers propose to build the subdivision in phases, taking advantage of the cost efficiency of extending utilities from existing lines to the east and west.

Steamboat 700 would include a village center that would offer commercial buildings, possibly with apartments above them. It would be close to the main entrance of U.S. Highway 40 opposite the existing entrance to the Sleepy Bear trailer park.

If the development were to include a grocery store, the town center is where it would be located.

“Next to traffic and employee housing, the third thing we’re most often asked about is a grocery store,” Scott Woodford of the land-use planning firm Patten Associates said.

Woodford is uniquely qualified to give historical perspective to the current proposal – he was a member of the city planning staff in 1996 and 1997 when the community was trying to hammer out the details of the original West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

“This is the crux of the plan,” Woodford said, gesturing at a large map. “For a lot of years, it was a big unknown. For a lot of years, we didn’t know if it would go to (luxury homes on) 35 acres. : This is the last hope to add housing close to the city on this scale.”

Mulcahy reiterated his promise Thursday night to live up to the area plan’s requirement that 20 percent of the homes meet the city’s definition of affordable housing.

He confirmed he has retained a national firm, UNIDEV, to consult with his team on how to accomplish desirable affordable housing. The company works primarily in the public sector, he added.

“We wanted to get advice from a company with a track record of completing affordable projects and not just rely on a builder,” Mulcahy said.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips said, at first glance, the conceptual plans seem to live up to the goals of the West of Steamboat plan.

Steamboat Springs City Councilman Towny Anderson stepped back for the wide view.

“It took us 106 years to get where we are now,” Anderson said. “And now we’re going to nearly double in size in 20 years. It deserves considerable thought.”