New apartment buildings planned; one in downtown, another on Steamboat’s south side
July 16, 2015
Steamboat Springs — A pair of market-rate apartment building projects on opposite ends of Lincoln Avenue with the combined potential to add 94 rental units to Steamboat Springs' tight housing market have entered the city planning process.
Passive House Apartments, whose developer is striving to build a "net zero energy building," would include 52 apartments on the north side of Weiss Drive opposite Southside Station convenience store on the city's south side.
The second project, at 1125 Lincoln Avenue, would create 42 apartments at the corner of 12th Street, across from Little Toots Park. If developed, the building would occupy part of a surface parking lot and replace an existing retail/office building recently vacated by Boomerang Sports Exchange (which relocated a block further up Lincoln).
Passive House developer Jeff Pullman, an architect who spends winters here and the rest of the year in New Jersey, said Thursday that, although it is not inexpensive to build in Steamboat, with some recent economic development and the prevailing low unemployment rate, it's becoming feasible to develop new apartments.
Pullman intends to build an apartment building that produces as much energy as it consumes using a combination of photovoltaic panels covering the flat roof of the building and passive house design.
Former City Councilwoman Mary Brown, who is consulting with Pullman on the city permit process, was quick to say that passive house design is different from the conception the average person might hold. Rather than referring to passive solar gain through southern facing windows, a passive house is one designed and built to be 75 to 90 percent more energy-efficient than a typical house built to meet the code, she said. That can imply qualities like triple grade windows and construction practices that avoid thermal breaks, Brown added.
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Plans call for the building to be constructed using "integrated project delivery," relying on prefabrication to cut down on waste. In addition, the construction and design team would collaborate under a single contract and budget.
Pullman said when he took a rigorous certification course two years ago, he learned that construction costs to build a passive house are no higher than for a conventional home, and that changed the way he approaches his profession.
"Once you learn what it takes to make a passive house and you realize construction (costs are) the same as conventional, it's really hard to build a conventional building anymore," Pullman said. "Why would you build an energy hog if you didn't have to."
The mix of apartments at Passive House is still being tinkered with, but documents on file with the city show it skews toward studios and one-bedroom units with a smaller number of two-bedroom apartments. Studios would begin at 451 square feet and run all the way up to 947 square feet for a handful of loft studios, Pullmans said. One-bedroom units would range in size from 703 to 823 square feet.
Developer Eric C. Rogers' 42-unit apartment building at 1125 Lincoln (the final name has yet to be determined) is being designed by Davis Partnership Architects of Denver and Edwards with clean modern lines. A second-level community area with hot tubs and fire pits would create a gathering place for residents.
Renters at 1125 Lincoln would also be able to walk to dining and entertainment, as well as across the street to Little Toots Park, Soda Creek and the Bud Werner Memorial Library, just across the creek.
Like those for Passive House, elevation drawings for 1125 Lincoln indicate primarily flat roofs with clean modern lines and extensive use of glass. Architectural drawings also show covered patio spaces on the upper level of the building.
The conceptual plans include two levels of internal parking and two retail spaces fronting on Lincoln Avenue.
An introductory letter to city planning focuses on the developers' desire for a number of variances from the zoning code, including a height variance (they point out that the site is among the lowest in base elevation on Lincoln, mitigating the visual impact of a proposed 34-foot tall building).
The developers are also asking to encroach six feet into the city right-of-way on 12th street where existing diagonal parking will allow front stoops for several first-level apartments. They make the case in a letter to the city that they require the variances to make the project work on that site.
"We believe residential density is the key to a vibrant and successful downtown core," they wrote in their submittal package.
The average size of apartments at 1125 Lincoln is 724 square feet. There is a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and alcove apartments.
Rogers could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.