First units at Brown Ranch expected by end of 2026 |

First units at Brown Ranch expected by end of 2026

Plan presented Thursday, Oct. 6 features four neighborhoods designed to "feel familiar"

Longtime Routt County resident Dan Hebard, with a walking cane, was among the crowd of people who showed up at the Strings Music Pavilion on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, to see how the Yampa Valley Housing Authority plans to develop affordable housing at the Brown Ranch property west of Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Construction at the Brown Ranch would start in 2026 with the first units coming at the end of that year and all 1,200 units planned for the first phase of development built by the middle of 2029, according to the development plan presented Thursday, Oct. 6.

When fully built out over the next 20 to 25 years, the plan shows the Brown Ranch will feature four neighborhoods, each with a variety of housing types ranging from single-family homes to large-scale apartment complexes.

These units would be centered in a walkable community with a gridded street design that draws on elements from Old Town and downtown Steamboat Springs. Alternating streets would be a greenway closed to vehicles, and parks and open space would be blocks away from the homes.

“The design will look familiar; it will feel familiar,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, during a presentation at Strings Music Pavilion on Thursday. “It’s truly a neighborhood designed by the community for the community.”

Peasley and Sheila Henderson, who has led the Brown Ranch community outreach effort over the last year, started the presentation by reviewing the current housing crisis in Steamboat and the effect it is having on a shrinking and aging workforce.

“We’ve experienced a lot of growth in Steamboat Springs and Routt County over the last several decades, and that growth has not benefited everyone equally,” Peasley said. “We have left a significant number of our community members behind.”

“We don’t want to leave any members of our community behind ever again,” he continued. “That’s our goal at Brown Ranch.”

This drawing shows Neighborhood A at the Brown Ranch, the first part of the community that will be built. The first units are expected to come on line in 2026.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

Units by 2026

The first pieces of the development will be in the southeast corner of the Brown Ranch property, where it will make multiple connections with the Overlook subdivision that’s currently under construction.

This neighborhood, called Neighborhood A in the schematics, plans to offer units that are steps away from a variety of services such as parks, child care, medical care, restaurants and a grocery store.

Nodes of commercial activity would be centered around transit options, and an extended Yampa Valley Core Trail would run along the southern end of the property, making a connection with existing neighborhoods on Steamboat’s west side.

This timeline projects the first units at the Brown Ranch will be ready in 2026, will all of Phase One completed by the summer of 2029.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy image

“You’re adjacent to everything you need to do, and community connections are built into the fabric of the community,” Peasley said. “In my imagination, (there is) a brewery, I’m riding my bike there on the core trail, sitting there having a beer while my kids play in the park. … That’s the type of inspiring neighborhoods that we want to provide at Brown Ranch.”

Annexation for the property will start this fall and could be complete next year, though Peasley noted there are significant issues to work out with the city, such as who will plow the roads, pay for expansion of the city’s transit network and maintain the 53 acres of planned park space.

The entire first phase of the project would have four smaller phases, with a total of 1,200 units, the last of which is slated to be completed in summer 2029, according to the timeline.

“That’s aggressive, but doable,” Peasley said. “It requires all of us as a community to come together and make it happen.”

A rendering of the Yampa Valley housing Authority’s Brown Ranch looking east towards the rest of Steamboat Springs.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy image

Affordable and attainable

Peasley said the entire development would be affordable and attainable for people working in Steamboat, and the No. 1 question he has received in the last year has been how the housing authority would accomplish that.

To start, he said the traditional housing development model is not working for Steamboat, as evident by two previous failed attempts to develop the property.

“The cost to develop supply and the ability of the local workforce to pay, they don’t match,” Peasley said. “It depends on how much your income is — could be very big, could be very small — but no matter what it is, there’s a gap.”

Because the housing authority is a nonprofit governmental entity, Peasley said it gives the organization a unique opportunity to do what other developers have failed at.

The Brown Ranch will feature four neighborhoods, each with a mix of housing options ranging from single-family homes to large-scale apartment complexes.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

A diagram estimated that a future Brown Ranch resident would end up paying for about 73% of the cost to build their unit, with 25% coming from grant and local funding sources, and another 2% being the cost for the already donated land.

Henderson said they want to offer down-payment assistance and other programs to help people who haven’t been able to build savings living in Steamboat a chance to get into a home.

They also plan to employ a “community housing agreement” that would function like a deed restriction, though Henderson said details on exactly how that would work are still being developed.

“We want to drive affordability through savings to our homeowners,” Peasley said. “We also want to take the profits from that and deliver it back into the community, so from day one to year 100, this property will be affordable.”

Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, speaks to the crowd at the Stings Music Pavilion Thursday afternoon, Oct. 6, 2022 while laying out the Yampa Valley Housing Authorities plans for the Brown Ranch.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

How to pay for it

The planning thus far for the Brown Ranch has cost about $1 million, Peasley said. That has been paid for with grants from the Colorado Health Foundation, Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Craig-Scheckman Foundation.

Peasley said about half the cost for infrastructure at the Brown Ranch — estimated at around $400 million — could be covered by federal, state and local grants. Where the rest comes from will be up to the community, he said.

“That’s a question that will be on the ballot this fall, and it’s also a question that we have to figure out as a community,” Peasley said, referencing a 9% tax on short-term rental stays voters will consider in November. “We can double our money with grant funding.”

About 60% of the total units will be sold, and Peasley said that funding and money earned from rent would be reinvested to further build out the property. Peasley said the housing authority would handle every real estate deal done on the property.

The Brown Ranch will feature four neighborhoods, each with a mix of housing options ranging from single-family homes to large-scale apartment complexes.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

Robin Craigen, co-founder of the luxury vacation rental management company Moving Mountains and vice president of the Community Preservation Alliance group fighting to defeat short-term rental tax, asked Peasley how the development would be paid for if the tax measure fails to pass next month.

“If the tax doesn’t pass, that’s OK,” Peasley said. “We can continue to work as a community as we always do to solve our own problems. … It’s up to the community to decide how they want to do that.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.