Housing questions continue | SteamboatToday.com

Housing questions continue

Base area bigwigs ask City Council for clarity

Mike Lawrence

— Base area property owners and Steamboat Ski Area executives reiterated Friday that the city’s unclear housing policies could be delaying base area redevelopment.

In a lunchtime meeting with six members of the Steamboat Springs City Council, members of the Base Area Reinvestment Coalition, or BARC, expressed concerns that the council’s ongoing process to revise city housing policies presents unclear expectations for potential developers at the base area, and they again questioned whether base area construction projects should move forward in 2007.

“I have significant issues about whether our URA is going to be successful,” said Chris Diamond, president of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. “If there is not a clear path on some of these (housing) issues, we are not going to have a successful redevelopment.”

The City Council implemented an urban renewal au-

thority, or URA, at the base area in 2005 to raise money for public improvements in the area. Redevelopment projects scheduled to begin in 2007 include a roundabout near the Steamboat Trading Company and the Tugboat Grill & Pub, pedestrian connections such as a walkway from the Gondola Transit Center to Ski Time Square, increased signage and an expanded snowmelt system for public walkways.

In late October, seven BARC members sent a letter to the City Council recommending that all URA projects be put “on hold” because of the city’s “increasingly unpredictable, arbitrary and inflexible regulatory environment” regarding housing policies.

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The City Council has begun a several-month process to create a comprehensive housing plan for Steamboat Springs. Aff-

ordable housing issues headline Tuesday’s council meeting.

Chuck Porter, manager of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort at the base area, told council members Friday that developers may be hesitant to invest in the base area, or in Steamboat, while the city’s affordable housing requirements – and associated costs – are not finalized.

“For prospective buyers, their main concern is that they can do something with their assets, and that the city is receptive to that,” Porter said.

“We don’t have a buyer,” Diamond added, referring to Steamboat Ski Area.

Both the Sheraton and the ski area are for sale.

Diamond said after Friday’s meeting that he and Porter were not implying the council’s actions could be delaying the sale of the Sheraton or the ski area.

“All we did was express the kind of concerns we’ve heard,” Diamond said. “I think everybody looks at the One Steam-

boat Place process nervously, but recognizes that it probably won’t happen again – they were the first ones through.”

The council has twice denied proposed community housing plans for One Steamboat Place, a 440,000-square-foot, mixed-use development planned for a 4-acre site adjacent to the ski area’s gondola building. The denials could require Carbondale-based developers Timbers Company to revise building plans for One Steam-

boat Place or adjust sale prices because of increased costs.

At Friday’s meeting, BARC members asked the council to consider a number of BARC requests when creating the city’s housing plan. The requests include adjustments of affordable housing requirements at the base area and development incentives.

Council member Steve Ivancie was absent Friday.

Diamond, Porter and City Council President Ken Brenner all expressed optimism after the meeting.

“This is the best discussion I’ve had about these issues since I’ve been in town,” Diamond said.

Joe Kracum, who the city hired as project coordinator for base area redevelopment, said – as he did after the BARC letter two months ago – that until the City Council tells him otherwise, he will continue with URA construction plans.

Those plans will be presented at an Open House from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall.

– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Open House to present designs, materials and costs for base area redevelopment projects, and provide a chance for the public to meet with city planners and base area redevelopment consultants.

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: Project Coordinator Joe Kracum at 871-7077 or Steamboat Springs Senior City Planner Suzanne Bott at 871-8275.