Big Agnes eyeing move to former police station on Yampa Street
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s hard for Bill Gamber to hide his excitement when he starts talking about the possibility of moving the headquarters for Big Agnes, a Steamboat Springs’ based outdoor gear company, to 840 Yampa St., the former location of the Steamboat Springs Police Department.
“Since Honey Stinger is moving, we were like, ‘Well maybe, we need to find a new home for Big Agnes,'” Gamber said. “That’s when we started talking about the police station and being downtown. I love being downtown. It’s so awesome with the river across the street and Howelsen Hill. There is mountain biking, skate skiing, fishing, rafting and kayaking — that’s the DNA of our brands.”
Currently, Big Agnes and sister company Honey Stinger, a local energy snack company, are located at 2145 Resort Drive in a 20,500-square-foot office building next to Vectra Bank.
Honey Stinger is in the process of leasing 17,837 square feet of office space at the airport that currently houses Smartwool, which announced it was moving to Denver more than a year ago. A lease with Honey Stinger has passed through first and second readings and was approved by Steamboat Springs City Council in December. Honey Stinger is expected to sign the lease and begin the move into the airport space upon Smartwool’s departure.
For years, BAP!, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger were headquartered out of the little red house at 735 Oak St. in downtown Steamboat.
Gamber founded Bwear Action Products, or BAP!, in his college dorm room at Pennsylvania’s Lock Haven University in 1985. He incorporated BAP!, Inc., in 1990 after moving to Steamboat Springs and created Big Agnes in 2000, shortly before joining forces with partners Len Zanni and Garth Hager. The group founded Honey Stinger in 2002.
Gamber’s desire to get back downtown spurred a phone call to city officials last year asking what they planned to do with the space that became vacant when the Police Department moved to a new combined law enforcement facility at 2027 Shield Drive in June 2019.
City Council is now considering approval of an ordinance to lease the old police station building to Big Agnes. That agreement will be considered on first reading at council’s Tuesday, Jan. 7, meeting.
Under the agreement, Big Agnes will pay the city $9,573.75 a month for the space in the first year and then the rent will increase by 3% a year during the course of the lease. According to Alan Lind, the city’s director of general services, the company is leasing 6,405 square feet of office space at a rate of $17 per square foot and a 1,200-square-foot garage area, which it will use for product development, at $5 a square foot.
“It’s kind of a nice use of that space, and it does provide the city some revenue,” Lind said. “We’ve gone through the process of looking at what the market rate is in the downtown area, and we feel pretty good about the potential relationship we have with Big Agnes moving ahead.”
The city is also offering $50,000 to help with tenant finishes.
If the lease is approved, Big Agnes will share the building with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, which will use most of the lower level to house fire and rescue trucks and also provide a base of operations in the downtown area.
Gamber and partners Len Zanni and Rich Hager have plans to renovate the new space with hopes to move in next spring.
“We are offering them some money for tenant finishes,” Lind said. “It will not cover all the things they’re wanting to do, but it will provide them some relief on some of the efforts they’re going to put into that building.”
Gamber praised the city staff for their efforts to make the move a success, and while everything is still tentative at this point, he and Zanni are optimistic about the potential move.
This will be the second time company owners have attempted to move their business headquarters into the 840 Yampa St. building.
In December 2012, City Council approved the sale of the building to Big Agnes and Honey Stinger but then pulled out of the agreement after staff discovered that the city’s plan to temporarily relocate the city’s police force to the city-owned Iron Horse Inn was going to be dramatically more expensive than initially expected.
In September 2016, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger purchased a 20,500-square-foot building from Vectra Bank on Resort Drive for $1.3 million. Zanni said a separate ownership group, of which he and Gamber are a part of, actually owns the building. He would not elaborate on what that group plans to do with the building once Honey Stinger and Big Agnes relocate to their new spaces.
Zanni did confirm that the majority of Big Agnes’ operations would be moved to the downtown location. Big Agnes also has a warehouse on the west side of town.
“We are going to add value to the building,” Gamber said of the company’s plans for the Yampa Street space. “We are super excited to have our crew downtown, and we think it will add to the community. Our people go out for coffee in the morning, go places for lunch and for beers after work. It will be great to be on Yampa Street and close to all of those things.”
If council approves the ordinance on first reading, the ordinance will be considered for second reading on Jan. 21 and then the lease can be signed 30 days later.
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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