All hands on deck: Steamboat talks Brown Ranch future with Yampa Valley Housing Authority
Steamboat Springs City Council and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority held their first conversation Tuesday since the Housing Authority purchased the Brown Ranch, a 536-acre property just west of town that will one day serve as affordable housing.
Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said the project will likely take decades. Within the next year, the group hopes to take advantage of state and federal grant funding available due to COVID-19 and begin the first steps of the project.
Eventually, the housing authority would like to annex the land into city limits, as that provides water resources, Steamboat Springs Transit and snow removal. The first steps of annexation are up to City Council. Then city voters will have the ultimate say.
“I think the city is more than happy to collaborate with you,” council member Heather Sloop told the housing authority. “I don’t see very many hurdles, and I think it’s fantastic that you took the annexation event and just made it part of the process.”
Before the housing authority purchased the property with an anonymous donation, Brown Ranch was known as West Steamboat Neighborhood.
Steamboat 700 LLC originally purchased the land for $25 million, but voters in 2010 overwhelmingly rejected annexation of the property into city limits, which is necessary for infrastructure.
In 2018, Boulder-based developer Brynn Grey Partners LTD struck an agreement with Steamboat 700 to create a master plan community on 190 acres of the land. Following a public vote, the land was permitted to be annexed, but Brynn Grey failed to purchase the property within the city’s 45-day time frame, and the deal fell through.
Because the property is now in the hands of a public entity, Peasley told council members that any extra barriers in dealing with a for-profit developer would be eliminated.
“Before, the partnership was with a developer that was going to make a profit on it,” said council member Michael Buccino. “We’re not dealing with a developer, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we hammer out the relationship and that true partnership standpoint.”
Council members did not take any formal steps Tuesday but pledged their support to the housing authority and encouraged Peasley to ask the city for help if the housing authority needs more money, staffing or other resources to push the project forward.
“The way I see our partnership is basically like the ‘Wizard of Oz,’” said council member Eddie Briones. “We’re going down the Yellow Brick Road together, and we don’t know what’s at the end, but we’re in it together.”
Peasley said the future development will include all types of housing — condos, townhomes and houses — as well as options for renting and purchasing. Peasley said the ultimate goal is for renters to eventually be able to purchase a unit in Routt County.
“That’s the cool part about Brown Ranch,” Peasley said. “We can create enough housing supply where there is enough local housing available for the local population that you can move up.”
Peasley emphasized that second homes and short-term rentals will not be allowed.
Annexation is likely years down the road. Before the city votes on the process, the housing authority will need to figure out water rights, snow removal and transportation to the area. To assess those issues, the authority brought on a steering committee of 20 locals to plan the future of the development.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council President Robin Crossan emphasized that the project was going to be built by and for the entire community.
“Whether it’s folks that are not ever going to move out here or folks we hope will move out there and grow, we have to think of the entire community, not just one piece of the community,” Crossan said. “I think everybody is rooting for it, but we have to do it in a way that protects everybody.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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