Steamboat’s Shadow Run tries on new look |

Steamboat’s Shadow Run tries on new look

Hot tub enclosure moves complex toward modern image

The new spa facility and outdoor fireplace at the 30-year-old Shadow Run condominium complex provides a preview of materials and designs that could be incorporated into a future upgrade of the buildings' exteriors.
Tom Ross

— After 30 years, the Shadow Run condominium complex could use a facelift, and owners there have tangible evidence this winter of what a little nip and tuck could do for the property less than a mile from the Steamboat Ski Area gondola.

Shadow Run has a handsome new hot tub enclosure and outdoor fire pit with a contemporary steel chimney where motorists and pedestrians can admire it from Whistler Road. It was designed by Vertical Arts and built by Balustrade Construction of Hayden.

Vertical Arts project manager Travis Mathey said he and an acquaintance at Mountain Re­­­sorts conceived the idea of approaching the new spa facility as a demonstration project that would result in tangible evidence about how a new exterior for the venerable condo project could bring it up to 21st century design standards. It's an approach Mathey wouldn't mind exporting to other long-standing resort condominium projects here.

"There's a need out there, and we asked ourselves, 'Is there a creative way to get the ball rolling with older condos? How do we work with them to get a clear vision going forward?'" Mathey said.

He was pleased at how readily Shadow Run's diverse group of owners, who are scattered across the country, embraced the new design elements in the spa. Although the new building doesn't appear to fit in with the condo buildings close by, it could make visual sense in the future.

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The initial buildings at Shadow Run were constructed in 1980, when consumers' expectations for ski area condos were more modest than they are today. The project has a mix of permanent residences and nightly rental units, some of them under the management of Mountain Resorts, a part of the Resort Group family.

Mountain Resorts President Steve Frasier said the project comprises 135 units with 35 to 40 in the nightly rental pool and his company managing the bulk of those. Mountain Resorts also manages the homeowners association. He agreed with Mathey that the spa project provides a vision for a future transformation at Shadow Run and also provides an immediate upgrade.

"It has resonated really well with guests and owners," Frasier said. "It likely is a test drive" for future upgrades at the property. "The idea was to float this and see how it goes. I can tell you everyone has been very receptive."

And although Shadow Run's HOA is looking into the future at an exterior remodel, Frasier said, The Ranch and The West already have undertaken significant upgrades to their exteriors this year, with Phoenix set to launch a major project in 2011.

An owner who bought a two-bedroom unit in 1998 for $112,000 could sell at more than a 30 percent discount (from tax valuation) today and still see a strong return on the investment. Two-bedroom Shadow Run condos sold as high as $365,000 in 2007 at the peak of the market.

The condominiums are small: 680-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bathroom and 840-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom units are typical. But they are well-situated at Whistler and Walton Creek roads.

Project perks

A large city transit stop is adjacent to the parking lot on Walton Creek, and at that point on its condo route, the free Steamboat Springs Transit bus has just a few remaining stops before delivering its passengers to the Gondola Transit Center.

Mathey said the outdoor fire pit is a significant part of the upgraded hot tub facility, serving as a focal point that encourages people to gather and mingle.

Frasier said he thinks longtime Steamboat residents who haven't been inside the nicer short-term rental condos at Shadow Run might have a mistaken perception of how it fits into the resort bed base.

"I take people inside and they say, 'Oh, I didn't realize!'" Frasier said. "The reality is that rental units at that property are on par with every other similarly priced property in the valley."

Frasier said Mountain Res­­orts Maintenance Director John

Shipley and Assistant Main­tenance Director Tom Cheney were closely involved in the spa project, and Mathey said what he heard clearly was a desire to use sustainable and durable materials, not just with the hot tub area in mind, but also taking into account the cost of maintaining the condo buildings in the future.

As a result, the finished product uses native rock, easily replaced fiber cement board panels and steel on the fireplace.

The approach to the site design was to transform the old spa, which was entirely enclosed and not particularly appealing, into a gathering place.

There is a circular patio inlaid with boulders, and the patio has been plumbed for a snowmelt system when the HOA is ready to buy a boiler. Mathey said the cost of a future snowmelt system would be substantially offset by eliminating the current cost of snow removal. The fireplace is on a manual timer, just like the hot tub jets, to avoid wasting energy. Spa users can turn the fireplace on and off as they come and go.

The new iteration retains a fairly standard gable roof, but portions of the spa building are open to the air and the street elevation is covered with a durable horizontal lattice that allows natural light to enter the building.

The chimney, which is a few degrees off vertical, is also the structural support for one corner of the building. Preliminary elevations for the remodeled condo buildings show a chimney-shaped element dividing the decks between the buildings.