Could Steamboat Today offices become City Hall? City leaders take a tour with real estate agent
Steamboat Springs — City of Steamboat Springs officials who toured the Steamboat Pilot & Today offices with a real estate agent on Friday left thinking the large commercial building might be worth pursuing for city facilities.
“If I had to gauge the level of interest from 1 to 10, personally I’d put it at a 6 or a 7,” City Manager Gary Suiter said. “The pros kind of outweigh the cons.”
Four city administrators spent about an hour touring the building after a majority of City Council members thought the city should at least take a look at the space.
Realtor Cam Boyd pitched the property to city officials as a possible new public safety building.
But with that project moving full steam ahead on another site next to the Routt County Jail, city officials were looking at the newspaper offices more as a potential site for City Hall and perhaps a fire station.
City officials plan to present their impressions and a list of pros and cons to the council on May 2.
The tour comes at a time when city officials say they are running out of space to put employees in the current City Hall building downtown on 10th Street.
The city and the local fire district also have plans to build a new fire station out west.
At first glance, the city thinks the commercial building currently occupied by Steamboat Today might be a possibility for both kinds of facilities, with some room to grow.
Worldwest LLC, the former owner of the newspaper, is trying to sell the 23,222-square-foot building and 1.5 acres of nearby land along U.S. Highway 40 for $5.5 million.
The newspaper’s new owner, Swift Communications, is currently leasing the building while it searches for a new home for the paper in Steamboat.
Steamboat Today does not have a future financial interest in the building.
Printing operations were moved from the current newspaper building to Gypsum last year, leaving 12,542 square feet of warehouse space largely unused.
The building includes 10,680-square-feet of office space.
“There would be room there to expand for several decades,” Suiter said.
According to the city’s early estimates, the building could fit the current City Hall staff plus the planning staff, but it would be maxed out without any additions.
Suiter cautioned the tour of the newspaper offices was strictly a “reconnaissance mission,” and it will be up to city council members to decide whether to explore the possibility any further.
The city manager said one con of pursuing the building might be moving city administration offices away from residents who can currently walk there.
But as a possible plus, he said moving offices to west Steamboat could create a new municipal complex close to the new law enforcement facility.
“Elk River Road and U.S. 40 could be the new center of west Steamboat,” he said.
The city now has to get creative to house new employees at the existing City Hall.
Public relations manager Mike Lane, one of the city’s most recent hires, occupies what used to be a conference room, Suiter said.
The city has also digitized files to remove paper filing cabinets to make more room.
“This building has outlived its useful life in my opinion,” Suiter said of the current City Hall. “It’s high maintenance.”
However, a new City Hall is not currently on the city’s capital improvement program. And the last time a new City Hall facility was floated as part of a new police station project, some council members did not react favorably to the idea.
Council President Walter Magill called the City Hall proposal that was floated last year a “diversion” that he would have voted against.
The real estate tour last week was attended by Suiter, Fire Chief Mel Stewart, Planning Director Tyler Gibbs and Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet.
Suiter said the city employees were evaluating the building for different purposes.
Boyd said in addition to interest from the city, he has had two other inquiries so far about the newspaper headquarters.
They include a party that was interested in leasing the building, and another who was an investor looking to use part of the building and lease it out.
Steamboat Today has occupied the building since it was built in 1999.
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