Mike Lawrence: Up a creek | SteamboatToday.com

Mike Lawrence: Up a creek

Mike Lawrence

Spring Creek, shown here flowing past the post office in downtown Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon, is one of two creeks that may need to have their paths altered if tentative development plans are proposed and approved.

All three creeks running through downtown could soon change course.

Spring Creek and Butcherknife Creek flow under two potential future developments that, depending on the plans, could alter the course of both bodies of water and affect floodplain assessments along Lincoln Avenue. Soda Creek runs through Little Toots Park near the former Steamboat Springs Community Center, which is going to take a wrecking ball to the chin any day now and is the expansion site for Bud Werner Memorial Library.

(Incidentally, local firefighting recruits have been practicing “ventilations” – cutting holes in roofs – on the Community Center building before it’s torn down. Check it out from the Yampa River Core Trail.)

Spring Creek flows between the U.S. Post Office at Third Street and the Old Town Hot Springs parking lot, then into a culvert that runs under Lincoln Avenue and the recently closed Shell gas station. The creek empties into the Yampa River on the site of Riverwalk, a future multi-building development that will dwarf downtown projects under construction.

“Riverwalk will be bigger than any of the ones we’re seeing right now,” Jim Weber, the city’s director of public works, said this week.

Riverwalk is planned to include at least 72 residential units and more than 32,000 square feet of commercial space, in several future buildings along the river at the east end of Yampa Street.

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Developer Jim Cook of Colorado Group Realty is exploring options for the adjacent Shell gas station site, which he said could become a large hotel.

“We are going to pursue, most likely, a lodging facility on that site – we need to replace a lot of the lodging that’s been taken out of the market downtown,” Cook said Tuesday.

Cook said a hotel at the Third Street and Lincoln Avenue site could hold “maybe 80 to 100 rooms,” which would be larger than the former Harbor Hotel on Seventh Street.

Such a hotel would utilize underground parking – as will Riverwalk, which has 108 underground spaces planned – and mean big changes for the Spring Creek culvert.

“If we don’t get that culvert moved, then we can’t do below-grade parking,” Cook said. “A lot of (the planning) is dependent on drainage issues that we are trying to work out with the city.”

Cook said a deal has not yet been reached for the Space Station Gas and Go-Fer Foods site on Seventh Street and Butcherknife Creek. A Grand Junction family owns the site.

“We don’t have a contract on the Go-Fer. There are some negotiations,” Cook said. “Maybe the city should be interested in that site to create a green oasis, with a city information building and public restrooms. I would like to see those discussions move forward.”

Adjustments to Soda Creek in new park space created by the library expansion have long been discussed in the expansion’s planning process.

“There’s a huge amount of downtown in the 100-year floodplain, and that dramatically raises insurance rates,” Cook said.

Weber said future development projects, floodplain issues and streetscape renovations are all examples of upcoming, new construction-related activity in downtown Steamboat Springs, which is already suffering from growing pains.

“There will be some real interesting things coming up,” Weber said. “We’ve got many more years of this to come.”

– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com