Boulder developer proposes 55 market-rate units on west side of Steamboat

Planning commission recommended approval of Bear River Village last week, which includes 17 units with workforce restriction

Bear River Village will include 55 units with floor plans ranging from studio, handicap accessible studio, and one- and two-bedroom units. Seventeen units will be workforce deed restricted.
AU Workshop/Courtesy photo

A new housing development proposed on the west side of Steamboat Springs would add 55 market-rate units, with 17 of those being earmarked for local workforce.

The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission recommended approval in a 5-1 vote on Thursday, April 13, for several variances and conditional uses on the property, which is between the Routt County Combined Law Enforcement Facility and Whitehaven Mobile Home Park.

The development, Bear River Village, would consist of 13 buildings that will include studio, one- and two-bedroom units, with some of the studios being designed to be handicap accessible. The property is zoned for commercial development, which allows multi-family housing with a conditional use permit.

“A lot of people have looked at this property for a number of years, but as far as a commercial site, it wasn’t very attractive,” said Walter Magill with Four Points Surveying and Engineering, who presented the project to the planning commission. “With a conditional use, we’re proposing a 55-unit residential housing and we have 30% workforce units.”

The workforce deed restriction being proposed would require the occupant to have a job within Routt County, but does not require any affordability standards. Magill said part of the goal with some units being smaller was to make them more affordable, but that they would be market rate.

Boulder-based Crossbeam Capital owns the property. Magill said Crossbeam is a firm that focuses on so-called “missing middle” housing. This level of housing is what the Yampa Valley Housing Authority built at Sunlight Crossing and what is planned for its Mid Valley project. Mid Valley will have units available between 80% and 150% the area median income.

“We look at it as options for families, students, employees and others who want to live close to the (Yampa River) Core Trail, public transit and downtown,” Magill said.

A view of the proposed Bear River Village development from across Lincoln Avenue.
AU Workshop/Courtesy photo

The project would front U.S. Highway 40, or Lincoln Avenue, with row home style architecture, but the access into the development would be from Lagoon Court. That road provides access to Bear River Park, which is currently going through the process of finding a contractor for improvements.

In its review, city planning staff found that the development meets all requirements of the community development code, other than the seven variances requested. Staff supported each of the variance requests, some of which have to do with the property’s current community commercial zoning.

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“Conditional uses are compatible with the preferred direction of the community plan and are consistent with the zone district,” said Senior Planner Toby Stauffer. “We are recommending approval of this project.”

The planning commission didn’t express any significant concerns with the project, though commissioners did discuss parking and snow storage. The project is meeting reduced parking requirements allowed by having some units designated for workforce. Magill said there was parking set aside for guests as well.

A look towards the south within the proposed Bear River Village development on the west side of Steamboat Springs.
AU Workshop/Courtesy photo

The snow storage is one of the variances requested. The development code requires one square foot of snow storage for every two feet of pavement. This project has 14,436 square feet of pavement and 6,634 square feet of snow storage, which is about 600 square feet short of that requirement. Magill said if needed, snow would be hauled off-site.

Planning commissioner Rich Levy said hauling snow was a slight issue for him because it would go against the climate action plan, but it wasn’t such an issue that he voted against the recommendation.

Other variances requested are for first-floor ceiling heights, window glazing, placement of parking, roof pitch and frontage height. Another variance would allow for eight units to be in the building along Lincoln Avenue, where the code currently caps it at six.

“I’m glad to see that there’s pretty decent density in the housing that’s there,” said planning commissioner Lou Tortora. “I think that’s very desirable, plus the 17 units that will be workforce eligible housing.”

City council is set to consider the project at its April 25 meeting.

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