Brown Ranch will need about $10M a year from Steamboat, housing authority director says |

Brown Ranch will need about $10M a year from Steamboat, housing authority director says

Steamboat council member Heather Sloop sees figure as ‘palatable’

The Brown Ranch is a 536-acre property purchased last year by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority with an anonymous donation. Anticipating about $400 million worth of infrastructure needs to develop the land, officials with the city of Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority are looking at ways to secure funding for the workforce housing project.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Building the necessary infrastructure for the Brown Ranch housing development could require as much as $10 million a year from the Steamboat Springs community over the next 20 years.

In a presentation to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, May 3, Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, emphasized that while the estimated $400 million price tag for infrastructure is crucial for developing Brown Ranch, the city won’t have to come up with that money all at once and much of the new infrastructure will be important for the entire city as well.

“I think $10 million a year is probably a reasonable number that we can execute on this vision and solve all of those housing problems,” Peasley said, adding that some of the money would go toward fixing U.S. Highway 40, adding redundancy to the city’s water supply and ensuring that Steamboat is taking care of its infrastructure in the community.

The $400 million figure is a rough estimate that includes about $220 million for roads, water, sewer, and trails and parks on the 536-acre property. Another $180 million would pay for road improvements around the development, upgrades to the electrical grid and eventually adding another water treatment plant — all of which are considered off-site developments.

That money would be needed over the course of the project and would not be required all up front.

Peasley also emphasized that while a sizable contribution will need to be local, not all of the money will have to be found in the city’s coffers.

“These are enormous, daunting numbers, but they don’t have to be addressed in one fell swoop,” Peasley said. “But we have a challenge as a community to tackle this (and) see through our vision of creating a neighborhood entirely for locals.”

Peasley’s $10 million a year estimate came in response to a question from council member Heather Sloop, who said she felt that number was much more reasonable than the $400 million estimate.

“$10 million a year is so much nicer for someone to go, ‘Oh, people can get behind that,’” Sloop said. “$10 million a year is quite palatable to pitch to the community.”

Council did not discuss strategies to raise the money on Tuesday, and it likely would not be entirely up to the city anyway.

However the funding is raised, Peasley said, the money will be crucial to ensure the housing at the Brown Ranch is available to Steamboat’s workforce.

An analysis of housing demand shows Steamboat needs about 2,300 subsidized housing units by 2040. That number factors in projected job growth but doesn’t include the nearly 300 units the housing authority will build in Steamboat over the next handful of years.

“We have enormous residential demand across all income spectrums,” Peasley said, pointing to data that shows even households with annual incomes above $200,000 are struggling to find housing. “That’s a new doctor coming into town. That is how high up our problem goes.”

Peasley also asked council members about a potential annexation, which has been assumed will need to happen eventually to make Brown Ranch work. Council member Michael Buccino said the city should have started the process last year and he is eager to get moving.

Buccino asked if annexing the property sooner could help build public-private partnerships that might help reduce anticipated infrastructure costs or at least the amount of public money spent on them.

Peasley said they haven’t begun those discussions at this point, and every option remains on the table.

“The framework that we’re going to be looking at it through is what delivers the lowest cost to the end user, both upfront and (throughout its) life cycle,” Peasley said. “If that’s the traditional model, great. If that’s a new model, I’ll definitely be interested in that.”

Multiple council members said they would like to study how an annexation might affect the city’s budget before going through the process. Similar studies have been done in the past.

Jon Snyder, Steamboat’s public works director, said maintenance for water and sewer lines could be paid for with service rates, but maintenance for roads and storm water would need to be covered for by sales taxes. Transit presents another issue, he said.

“I know we want to create a neighborhood that is eco-friendly and that relies heavily on transit, but we simply can’t do it if we’re going to rely on the general fund,” Snyder said.

Council President Robin Crossan tried to explain how complicated an annexation can be, as five of the seven council members have little to no experience with the process.

She suggested council look back at efforts to annex the former West Steamboat Neighborhood development in 2019, which was approved by voters but fell through when the developer failed to purchase the property in time.

“That was painful,” Crossan said of the multi-year process.

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