Routt County exploring potential purchase of newspaper offices in west Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County exploring potential purchase of newspaper offices in west Steamboat

A collection of images included in the sales brochure for the Steamboat Pilot & Today building.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County is eyeing the current Steamboat Pilot & Today headquarters in west Steamboat as a potential place to put county offices.

County officials have taken multiple tours of the newspaper offices on Curve Court this winter.

The county's interest in the building, which is listed for sale at $5.5 million, comes after the city of Steamboat ended its pursuit of the property in October.

"It's exploratory at this point," Deputy County Manager Dan Weinheimer said Wednesday of the county's level of interest in the building. "We're still trying to identify the pot of money we'd use to buy it and the business case for it in a lot of ways. I think there's still a lot of work to be done before we'd be willing or able to move forward on something like that."

The county’s interest in the building has several things in common with the city of Steamboat’s previous interest in it.

Weinheimer said some county departments are "bursting at the seams" and are in need of room to grow.

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"The obvious one is our human services department," he said when asked which county departments are in need of more space.

The Pilot & Today's former owners are trying to sell the building, which includes 10,680 square feet of office space and 12,542 square feet of warehouse space.

The newspaper is currently leasing portions of the building until the newsroom moves this summer to new offices downtown on Yampa Street in the former Yampa Valley Electric Association building.

There is no timeline currently associated with the county's interest in the soon-to-be-vacant newspaper building, Weinheimer said.

Weinheimer said the county is currently focused on the planned construction of the combined law enforcement facility that will house the county’s sheriff’s deputies.

The county has expressed interest because the purchase of the facility could be less costly than building a brand new building.

The property also comes with 1.5 acres of vacant land attached to it on U.S. Highway 40 that could be developed in the future.

"It's attractive because it's on the bus route and it's right next to Elk River Road, and it's nice that it's next to LiftUp of Routt County and the justice center," Weinheimer said. "It's interesting, but that's about it at this point."

County officials have had discussions with the Routt County Board of Commissioners about potential uses of the building.

Real estate agent Cam Boyd, who has been marketing the building, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.

The city of Steamboat in October came close to seriously pursuing the property.

But the city passed on the real estate opportunity after Steamboat Springs City Council could not secure the five votes it needed to convene an executive session to discuss real estate negotiations.

Four council members wanted to keep exploring the purchase, but state law requires that a two thirds majority of the council must approve of convening a closed door session.

Members who wanted to consider making an offer on the building thought the city might come out ahead financially instead of waiting to possibly build an entirely new building in the future.

Council members who opposed the purchase worried about the city’s current financial situation and thought the city had more pressing needs such as a new fire station.

They also worried the purchase of a new city hall could hurt the city's ability to get tax increases passed for other needs such as improvements at Howelsen Hill.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.