Housing authority looking for potential partners for non-housing uses at Brown Ranch | SteamboatToday.com

Housing authority looking for potential partners for non-housing uses at Brown Ranch

The Brown Ranch is a 536-acre property to the west of Steamboat Springs purchased by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority with a $24 million anonymous donation.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Screenshot

In addition to the roughly 2,300 units that the fully built out Brown Ranch development will eventually include, at least a quarter-million square feet of non-residential space is also part of planning.

About 50,000 sq. ft. of that is factored in as the size of another school, 30,000 sq. ft. for a grocery store and about 5,000 sq. ft. for more childcare. Each of these items are seen as aspects that the Brown Ranch will eventually need to include to support the population that lives there.

But there is still a lot of non-residential space planned and now the Yampa Valley Housing Authority is looking for potential community partners to figure out what might eventually fill it.

Sheila Henderson, community engagement leader for the Brown Ranch, said a grocery store, child care and medical services are popular asks, but people have also expressed an interest in services like transitional housing, more space for the animal shelter and indoor recreation space.

“We want to see what the community hopes to have at Brown Ranch, how that fits into the steering committee’s vision and guiding principals, our targeted outreach, health equity priorities and what we heard from the community as a whole,” Henderson said.

On Monday, May 30, the housing authority invited community members to submit an application that would signal interest in some of this space. The application isn’t a commitment; rather it is a way for officials behind the planning to find potential partnership opportunities to develop these uses.

Thinking about these future special residential, commercial and other community uses now will also allow the housing authority to consider where in the overall plan for Brown Ranch some of these uses would best serve the community.

This table lays out the anticipated non-residential space needed as part of the Brown Ranch.
Brown Ranch Steering Committee/Courtesy photo

Beyond identifying information, the application includes eight questions that seek to understand what the potential project would be and what the organization can do to make the partnership a reality. This includes how much space would be needed for such a project, how the project would benefit the community and how it would be maintained and funded into the future.

Special residential could be housing units for sober living targeted at people who are dealing with addiction, transitional housing for people dealing with a domestic violence situation, or units targeted to help people ease their way back into the community after being incarcerated.

Preliminary designs for the project presented at the beginning of May show that the first phase of construction would include the grocery store, nearly 50,000 sq. ft. in other retail space, as well as about 10,000 sq. ft. that could serve as potential nonprofit office space. Another school, more retail and office space and another fire station would likely be part of phase two. Timelines for the various phases have not yet been planned.

As for other community uses, one example would be a community garden. While this type of project likely wouldn’t be part of initial construction efforts, it may require space be set aside for it to be built later. Trying to understand these uses now will not only allow space to potentially be set aside for later, it could help identify various partners in the community and potentially connect them with each other.

“If someone has an idea for a community garden for example and they want to lead it, we might connect them to others with similar interests,” Henderson said. “We have a lot of time to figure it all out, what we need to know right now are the key pieces that need to fit into the comprehensive planning process.”

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