Thunderhead redevelopment project tabled
New affordable housing framework defined for proposed Steamboat 700 annexation
Steamboat Springs — A highly anticipated vote on a major base area redevelopment project was delayed another month at Tuesday’s Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, but a rare level of consensus was reached on another controversial project on the opposite end of the city.
City Planner Jonathan Spence said a representative from The Atira Group – developers of the nearly 400,000-square-foot Thunderhead project at the base of Steamboat Ski Area – visited city offices mid-afternoon Wednesday and requested an indefinite tabling of a hearing on the project. Spence subsequently notified interested parties, including those that oppose the project, that they didn’t need to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
But on Tuesday morning, Spence said, Atira contacted him again and asked to rescind their request. In a Tuesday e-mail to Spence, Steamboat attorney Ron Smith wrote, “I know that you did not intentionally mislead me. I know that Atira Group must have changed their mind, but we are prejudiced and Atira should at least have to reschedule so our clients will have reasonable notice to appear at a future meeting.”
Smith represents the Bronze Tree Condominiums homeowners, who oppose the project. In a unanimous 6-0 vote, City Council chose to table the project until May 5 because of the confusion.
“We had stopped preparing for the meeting,” Smith said outside Centennial Hall after the vote.
Asked why Atira requested an indefinite tabling Monday, Spence said simply that it was “at their discretion.” Atira Vice President for Development Mark Mathews would not comment.
During an update on two projects west of city limits seeking annexation, City Council also unanimously endorsed an alternative approach to affordable housing in Steamboat 700 – a 508-acre master-planned community just west of city limits that proposes about 2,000 homes.
The simplified approach would require Steamboat 700 to dedicate land to the city for affordable housing and impose a real estate transfer tax on transactions within the project. Affordable housing projects then would be developed on the dedicated land by the city or the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
Steamboat 700 previously had proposed coupling a real estate transfer tax with inclusionary zoning strategies that would have required 25 percent of its housing to be made available to Routt County workers earning 70 to 160 percent of the area median income.
Developers who already have built units under the city’s inclusionary zoning policies have experienced difficulties selling and financing the units.
“I think it’s important to learn from the lessons that are going on right now,” Planning Services Manager John Eastman said.
A city staff report states that replacing inclusionary zoning with land dedication “eliminates the difficult and time consuming processof negotiating requirements related to number of units, unit size, target AMI, design standards, unit pricing, etc.”
Eastman said the city would determine the amount of land that needs to be dedicated using a formula similar to the one it currently uses to calculate payments in lieu to satisfy inclusionary zoning.
In addition to the unanimous blessing of council and city staff, the alternative approach also is supported by the developer, the Housing Authority and affordable housing advocates the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley.
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