Base area projects proposed |

Base area projects proposed

— The creation of an urban renewal authority for Steamboat Springs’ mountain base area has spurred several policy changes. Soon, some of the URA’s visual effects will become apparent.

The City Council this week heard recommendations from the URA’s steering committee. The recommendations included accomplishments, upcoming projects and projects that should be discussed.

The council approved the formation of a URA in December 2004, and plans were approved a month later. The intent is to raise money for improvements at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. The IRA is financed by future property tax and sales tax growth within the URA boundaries, which are confined to the ski area base.

The URA’s steering committee, which includes stakeholders and city staff members, has been in place for more than a year. City Planner Suzanne Bott presented the committee’s list of accomplishments, tasks and priorities on Tuesday.

Completed actions:

Complete and adopt design standards to support redevelopment of the base area. The council approved design standards in November.

Update the planned unit dev–elopment process. New dev–elopment projects for both of the gondola zone districts must go through the planned unit development process, which requires a higher level of review.

Develop affordable-housing recommendations. Developers must provide a certain percentage of affordable housing units within a project. The percentage increases based on the size of the market-rate units. That provision encourages developers to propose smaller units, which increases density on the mountain.

The council also is set to conduct a first reading of a citywide inclusionary zoning ordinance next week. Inclusionary zoning requires developers to include a percentage of affordable housing within a residential development.

Address “warm-bed” zoning. A variation to a planned unit development can happen if the project would provide significant public benefit. One such benefit is the promotion of “hot beds,” or units that would remain occupied year-round. Examples include hotels, fractional ownership, mandatory rental pools and onsite support such as maid services.

First phase of site improvements:

Remove the guard shack and improve traffic circulation through Ski Time Square Drive.

Design and begin a streetscape beautification plan for landscaping, street furniture, entry features and sidewalks.

Design and begin Gondola Plaza streetscape elements, including walkway improvement and an escalator connection to the Gondola level.

Begin design development for a promenade linking the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Torian Plum Plaza.

Coordinate planning and design with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. for day lighting of Burgess Creek. Day lighting would highlight the creek as a natural resource and could include pools and play areas.

Begin design and construction of public restrooms.

Develop a sign master plan for the base area.

Coordinate with the Steam–boat Ski and Resort Corp. and local art associations for development of a public art program for the base area.

Next steps:

Begin engineering, design and planning for rights-of-way acquisition and exchanges for street relocations on Ski Time Square Drive.

Analyze utility capacities and make projections about what will be needed.

Study the possibility of left turns out of the Gondola Transit Center parking area for southbound buses.

Study and implement a base area circulator bus that would provide frequent service into Ski Time Square. Members of the City Council voiced support for this service this week.

Review studies about the possibility of a conference center.

Analyze the need for commercial and retail space.

Undertake a public relations and communications plan, including newsletters and a Web site.

Evaluate the feasibility of a cabriolet from Wildhorse Meadows.

As part of the URA discussion, the council also listened to a presentation from Steve Jeffers of Stifel, Nicholas & Company regarding financing options for the URA. City officials have the option to decide how financially involved the city should be with the URA.

–o reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail

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