New project envisions public plaza on Yampa |

New project envisions public plaza on Yampa

The large white house at 655 Yampa Street, shown here Wednesday afternoon, may be replaced by a three-story building in the near future if designer Steven Eggleston's development plan is approved by the city.

— The same development and design team currently building a two-story restaurant and pub on Yampa Street has a new project in the works for Steamboat Springs’ downtown riverfront.

Designer Steven Eggleston of SCE Studio has submitted a development plan to the city for a three-story building that would combine commercial spaces and residential units at 655 Yampa St.

The site is directly opposite the “T” intersection with Seventh Street and has frontage on the Yampa River. It is currently occupied by a large white house.

Developers Howard Ulep and Dennis Frank of Annapolis, Md., have begun construction this summer on a new restaurant and pub less than two blocks away, where the Boat House office building formerly stood.

Their newest project would combine a mix of six residential units on the upper floors and three or four commercial spaces fronting a public courtyard on the river. Peter Van De Carr confirmed plans to move his Backdoor Sports mountaineering store and inner tube rental business to the new building.

The plan is notable for several innovative touches, including an automated automobile elevator to stack residents’ cars and a covered pedestrian pass-through from the streetscape to the river.

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Van De Carr’s new shop would feature an overhead conveyor to deliver tubes to the customer desk.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Van De Carr said. “We’ll continue to be the same mountaineering, climbing, kayaking and backcountry skiing store we’ve always been.”

City Planner Jonathan Spence said if the developers can deliver on the design, it could be a noteworthy building.

“It has the potential to be a very exciting project,” Spence said. “Steve Eggleston has put a tremendous amount of thought into the building.”

Eggleston said Spence has worked with him on the concept of the new building during a period of six months.

The feedback he heard form the city planning staff was that they placed a high value on public views of the river. They also discouraged an initial plan to build six garage bays on the Yampa Street frontage.

“We’re using an elevator system that will reduce the number to two bays,” Eggleston said. “That will allow more commercial frontage, which is something we want, too. Imagine an elevator for cars that can stack them two bays wide and three high.”

He said he researched an existing elevator system that has been put into use in buildings in Denver.

Eggleston said he believes he’s persuaded city planners that a single 32-foot-wide pedestrian path to the river would be preferable to four 8-foot sidewalks offering fragmented views. The result would be a “Zen doorway” through the building and under a residential unit that would give passersby a changing view of the river and Howelsen Hill, he said.

“It’s going to be such a dramatic architectural element for downtown,” he said.

The unnamed project has just entered the formal city planning process, and no public hearing dates have been set.