Housing Authority open to relationship with Steamboat 700
June 15, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The board of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority expressed tentative enthusiasm Thursday for continuing discussions about how it might collaborate with the developers of Steamboat 700 to deliver work force housing to the community.
Steamboat 700 is going through the city planning process with a proposal to annex 700 acres into the city of Steamboat Springs. The intent is to someday create more than 2,000 new homes, of which at least 20 percent would be affordable.
Peter Smirniotopoulos, a consultant with the firm Unidev, is working for Steamboat 700. Smirniotopoulos said he thinks the affordable housing demand analysis being undertaken by the city is the most important step it has taken toward providing the appropriate types of affordable housing products in the region. Speaking from a rental car pulled off a state highway between El Paso, Texas, and Carlsbad, N.M., Smirniotopoulos said his clients are committed to using the findings of the demand analysis as the guidepost for creating a community housing plan.
He described seven ways the Housing Authority might work with Steamboat 700. They include managing the sales and marketing of affordable units, acting as the clearing house for would-be purchasers of community housing and developing and managing rental and for-sale housing units.
Smirniotopoulos said if a market-rate developer signed on to build the housing at Steamboat 700 “they would welcome” the Housing Authority’s participation.
“That would only facilitate the transactions,” he said.
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Smirniotopoulos stressed that his list did not constitute an offer from Steamboat 700, but were just a menu of options. Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy confirmed by telephone from Las Vegas that his company was not making any firm proposals.
“We have a great deal of work to do before we get to that level of detail,” he said.
Smirniotopoulos spoke to the board at its invitation. His talk took place in the context of a broader discussion about whether the board might consider endorsing Steamboat 700’s plan.
Housing Authority Chairwoman Mary Alice Page-Allen said his talk was the result of an annual retreat where the board’s Strategic Planning Committee suggested creating time during meetings to discuss broader philosophical issues.
A majority of board members felt Thursday that it was premature to endorse Steamboat 700’s broad plan. However, many agreed with Tony Seaver’s recommendation that they continue discussions about collaborating with the developers throughout the summer, rather than wait for the results of a housing needs assessment survey due in mid-August.
“If in the future we carve out a role with Steamboat 700, I think our support is implicit,” Seaver said. “Let’s not wait until mid-August to tackle that relationship.”
Steamboat Springs City Councilman Scott Myller said he thought he and Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer had obvious conflicts of interest in terms of endorsing Steamboat 700 in their role as members of the Housing Authority’s board.
Meyer said she thinks it should be the role of the Housing Authority to partner with Steamboat 700 at the appropriate time.
“I think the Yampa Valley Housing Authority should take a public position when more details are defined,” she said. “I don’t think we’re there yet.”
Board member Catherine Carson expressed enthusiasm for taking an active role in the delivery of community housing in conjunction with Steamboat 700’s plan.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the community,” she said. “One of our roles should be to partner with and assist any developer providing work force housing to optimize whatever we can get.”