Our view: Hayden seizes opportunity
Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Hannah Hoffman, community representative
• Bob Schneider, community representative
Hayden officials announced last week that the town was investing in a new marketing campaign that promotes Hayden as an affordable place to live. The effort comes at an opportune time, when the average home price in Steamboat Springs has risen to almost $550,000 in West Steamboat and just over $741,558 downtown while single-family homes in Hayden are selling, on average, from $280,000 to $310,000.
The town set aside $6,000 to advertise Hayden’s affordable housing story, and the campaign is currently targeting people in the Steamboat and Denver areas with its “move here” message that brands Hayden as the “Heart of the Yampa Valley.”
We think Hayden town leaders are smart to jump on the opportunity to grow the small community located just 25 miles west of Steamboat, and we believe the housing options in Hayden could help meet the housing needs outlined in a housing market study completed in late 2016 that concluded Routt County would need 263 to 447 entry-level units of housing and 247 to 420 units of move-up housing by 2020 to meet demand.
According to town officials, Hayden has about 200 plotted, single-family lots available. These lots start at $40,000 compared to $250,000 for a very limited number of lots in Steamboat.
Ironically, many of the buildable lots in Hayden were developed 10 to 12 years ago right before the real estate bubble burst. Now, as the price of homes is rising, and Steamboat Springs is again faced with a shortage of attainable housing, Hayden is poised to take advantage of market conditions, and those lots, which remained vacant for years, are ready to go.
In addition, Hayden voters approved two key ballot measures last fall that provide the foundation for this future growth — a $3.7 million bond issue to upgrade the town’s infrastructure, and a $21 million school bond issue, which when paired with a potential BEST grant from the state, could provide the community with new middle school and high school campuses.
New infrastructure and improved school facilities have the power to spur development and could provide the motivation for people to consider Hayden as a good alternative to living in Steamboat. And as the town’s population grows and more people call Hayden home, the town should be able to attract new business and increase its sales tax base, which in turn would trigger more investments in parks and other amenities that improve a community’s livability factor and quality of life.
Other mountain towns have turned down valley to solve their housing woes, and for years, we’ve wondered why this type of growth hasn’t occurred here. Now, thanks to Hayden’s vision, we think it just might happen, and in the process, the small community could help Steamboat and all of Routt County take a big step toward solving a critical housing shortage.
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