Our view: Don’t give up on downtown vision | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Don’t give up on downtown vision

We are disappointed, on more than one level, that Steamboat Springs City Council decided against appealing Judge Shelley Hill's recent ruling reversing the city's approval of a 60-unit apartment building at 1125 Lincoln Ave. in the heart of the downtown commercial district.

Now that the "case is closed," we feel more strongly than before that it's urgent for city officials to move forward with speed and determination to pursue a re-write of its development codes that pertain to the downtown commercial district.

The city needs a code update to match the community's shared vision for a vibrant downtown that honors significant historic buildings while allowing for 21st-century structures that meet our needs and vision.

We have previously editorialized in favor of the 1125 Lincoln Ave. project, including the necessary code "variances," including building height, density on the site, as well as forgiving the requirement for setback on the upper level of the structure.

In our view, the apartment units, targeted for young professionals earning $50,000 to $100,000 a year, would have served the dual purposes of increasing much-needed rental housing stock while helping to leverage our investments in public improvements on Yampa Street, just a block away along the Yampa River.

Residents of the new apartments would have delivered on our goals to create walkable neighborhoods in downtown. In fact 1125 Lincoln would have been an example of how investment in public improvements can attract developments that in turn boost city sales tax receipts.

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Over the longer term, we think City Council's decision not to take on the extended legal tussle to uphold its original decision could deter other developers from bringing projects to our community; it took many months and many thousands of dollars for 1125 Lincoln Ave. developer Eric Rogers to earn approval for his development, and in the end, the hard-won permit wasn't worth a lot.

We think Rogers was on the mark when he told Steamboat Today early this month, "If the city can't defend its approvals, you will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to risk capital to bring in housing to this community."

At issue: Steamboat Springs City Council voted to not appeal a ruling reversing the city’s approval of a downtown development proposal.

Our view: Now that the council has passed on an appeal that has halted plans for the 60-unit apartment building on Lincoln Avenue, it’s urgent that city staff revisit its development and zoning codes in the downtown commercial district.

Editorial Board
• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Jim Patterson, evening editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Beth Melton, community representative
• Bob Weiss, community representative
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

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