Mike Lawrence: No strip in Steamboat
Vegas developer says he's here for community
Steamboat Springs — As far as Danny Mulcahy is concerned, the ads have it right: what happened in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.
Mulcahy is the new developer for a large chunk of land off U.S. Highway 40 west of town. As a partner in Steamboat 700 LLC, Mulcahy recently spearheaded the $24.6 million purchase of 540 acres near the Silver Spur subdivision. Steamboat 700 also is under contract to buy 160 adjoining acres – hence the name of the group – creating a property that one day could house more than 2,000 residences and be a huge addition to the booming Routt County real estate market.
What will go up on that property, and when, remains to be seen. The project is at least two years away from breaking ground.
But does it make you nervous to learn that Mulcahy spent nearly five years brokering property sales for Insight Realty Associates, a real estate investment firm in the Las Vegas area – one of the fastest-growing regions in the country?
That in May 2005, he helped sell 8.7 acres of vacant land in the Vegas suburbs for $5.5 million, or more than $635,000 per acre? That in February 2005, Mulcahy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that numerous projects slated for construction on the nearby Vegas Strip “all need vendors and services,” leading to a huge demand for industrial properties that fueled his land sales?
Does it make you nervous to think that numerous projects slated for construction on the nearby Lincoln Avenue Strip might also need vendors and services?
It shouldn’t, Mulcahy said. Those opportunities are not why he’s here.
“I don’t want to be known as a Vegas developer – that’s not who I am,” Mulcahy said last week. “I had multiple opportunities to flip this (west of downtown) property. I could have done it in a heartbeat and walked away with a nice piece of change, without doing a thing for the community : but we are really here to facilitate the community’s needs.”
The time and effort he is investing in the project backs up that claim.
Mulcahy, 36, said he began negotiating with former landowners Steve and Mary Brown in October 2005. The sale closed March 19 this year. An hour or so later on that momentous Monday, Mulcahy walked through our doors to say hello. Editor Scott Stanford pointed out that such a quick, unsolicited visit smacked of a publicity grab by a developer anxious to start marketing his new property, but Mulcahy insisted that wasn’t the case.
In fact, he said, the opposite is true.
“This is a good 10-year process, at least,” Mulcahy said of his plans for developing the site. “I want you guys to know me before you start writing about me.”
Getting to know Mulcahy is easy – he’s a very likeable guy, and has lately been meeting nearly non-stop with city and county officials to introduce himself, talk about the property and shoot the breeze. He’s saying all the right things, like that he knows the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan “like the back of his hand,” that he fully intends to make that plan a reality and that he has been visiting Steamboat since 1982.
He insists people call him “Danny.”
He wears jeans and button-down shirts – no Prada sunglasses, Elvis-impersonator costumes, fake cowboy hats or other Vegas apparel – and is knowledgeable about local housing needs.
“Our property is the best solution for affordable housing : and not necessarily deed-restricted, but stuff that the actual person can buy,” Mulcahy said.
But he acknowledges the property will need to meet a variety of housing markets, and possibly commercial uses as well. Mulcahy and the Steamboat 700 developers previously have designed and built Summerlin and Green Valley, both planned communities near Las Vegas. Summerlin has a population approaching 100,000. Green Valley offers a multitude of resort-style amenities, spas and casinos.
What Mulcahy says is encouraging. But at this early stage in the game, what actually will go up west of downtown is as uncertain as dice rolling across a craps table.
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.