Our view: Reaching a tipping point
Recent reporting on the scarcity of single-family homes in the city of Steamboat Springs priced in the $400,000 and $500,000 ranges suggest to us that the dream of working families building a single-family home here is fading, and the typical mountain resort town pattern of down-valley growth may soon settle in.
We are proud of Steamboat voters who saw fit, in the Nov. 7 election, to vote in favor of a 10-year, 1-mill property tax put forth by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. The expectation is the tax will raise $900,000 to leverage new housing developments through grants for low-income residents, seasonal workers and entry-level homebuyers who work here. It’s a big step forward that we have been anticipating for almost 20 years.
But the new tax isn’t meant to create modest single-family homes for established Steamboat families in the “move-up” market, and that’s an important issue.
Steamboat Today has reported there are very few suitable building lots within the city. We reported Nov. 5 that there was just one single-family home in the city limits listed on the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service in the $400,000 range. The asking price of $438,900 for the 1,462-square-foot home equated to a price of $300 per square foot.
And in late October, there were only seven single-family homes in Steamboat and its western suburbs priced in the $500,000 range.
At the same time, building contractors were scurrying in Hayden’s Dry Creek Village and Lake Village to build new single-family homes that sell for as little as $265,000.
At the new Sunlight Subdivision on Steamboat’s west side, build-able lots with prices beginning at $169,000 and ranging to $179,000 and $225,000 are selling briskly. If a household were able to have a custom 1,500-square-foot home built at Sunlight for $275 per square foot, the structure would cost $412,500 without taking into account the price of the lot.
If Steamboat’s already tight housing market becomes tighter in 2018, and the stalled discussions between the city of Steamboat Springs and proven affordable housing developer Brynn Grey Partners don’t catch a fresh breeze in early 2018, the market seems poised to get still tighter. We may see increasing numbers of families looking down-valley to Hayden and Craig, or up-valley to Oak Creek and Stagecoach for their dream homes.
If that comes to pass, there will be implications. It will be only a matter of time before the Yampa Valley needs a full-blown rural transit authority, which would be eligible to raise its own property taxes, to employ mass transit to take pressure off our highways.
Hayden will need more than one new childcare center. And the need for South Routt County and Hayden schools to find a way to finance construction of new school buildings will become more acute.
But mountain resort communities from the Roaring Fork Valley to Jackson, Wyoming, and Sun Valley, Idaho, have found ways to make it work.
So will we.
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The Oak Creek Library, which has been somewhat hidden inside the Oak Creek Community Center for 35 years, will be moving to a more prominent location on Main Street in the fall.