Central Park Drive construction being held up by easement issues | SteamboatToday.com

Central Park Drive construction being held up by easement issues

Central Park construction project again delayed by legal issues

Scott Franz

A sign warns drivers about the upcoming construction project on Central Park Drive.

— Construction crews have not been able to start the major road work project on Central Park Drive, because the city of Steamboat Springs is still working to obtain easements that are critical for the project.

The project, which is adding a new roundabout and pedestrian-oriented improvements to the road, was supposed to get underway April 4.

It has now been delayed twice because of the issue with the easements.

City officials and their contractor, Connell Resources, want to start the project as soon as possible, because any further delay could push the work into the busiest summer months.

“We’re doing everything we can to move as quickly as possible, and it’s our desire to perform this work in the slow season,” Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said. “We’re two weeks behind where we would have liked to have started.”

The new target date for the start of the project is Monday.

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But the start date is currently out of both the city’s and the contractor’s control.

The Kroenke Group, which owns a majority of the property at Central Park Plaza, has not signed the temporary easements the construction crews need to have permission to work and stage in the Plaza.

City Engineer Ben Beall will travel to City Market’s corporate offices in Denver on Wednesday to discuss the issue with the property owner and their tenants.

Beall said the property owner verbally agreed to the project last year.

But the Missouri-based Kroenke Group may still need to gain consent from some of Central Park Plaza’s tenants and its lender before the easements are secured.

“It’s not the project specifics, and it’s not the design that’s holding this project up,” Beall said. “It’s really some legal issues within the fabric of other legal agreements the city isn’t a party to that are holding it up.”

Beall said some of the tenants have raised concerns about the project, including the construction’s impact on parking.

Ground leases held by some of the tenants may also be impacting approval of the easements.

For example, the city currently does not know if a ground lease held by City Market extends into an area of the Central Park Plaza parking lot that will see construction.

The tenant and any others who have ground leases may have to give consent to the property owner before an easement can be executed.

Beall hopes to provide the tenants more clarity on the project and the agreements that have been made so far in an effort to secure the easements and move the project forward.

“We don’t fully understand what the hangups are, and the hope of tomorrow’s meeting is to get a better understanding,” Beall said.

Beall and Anderson said the issue over the easements came as a surprise to the city.

They said the city had assurances from the property owner last year that the easements would be secured, and it would only be a matter of paperwork.

While, in the past, the city has had unsigned easements it has needed to button up after awarding a contract, it is not typical or desirable to have critical easements to nail down.

The Steamboat Springs City Council has given the city approval to spend a grand total of $1.629 million this year on the reconstruction of Central Park Drive and Snapdragon Way.

The total is about $250,000 more than city staff anticipated spending on both projects during 2014 budget discussions.

The city had planned to undertake the project last year, but pushed it to this year after receiving only a single construction bid that was about 25 percent more than the anticipated cost of the project.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10