Our View: Reinventing downtown | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Reinventing downtown

Private investment in our downtown core will pay big dividends for the community

— The approval last week of The Olympian, a 41,100-square-foot commercial and residential building at the corner of Fifth and Yampa streets, continues the radical transformation of our downtown area.

We believe this transformation will have a significantly positive impact on the community, raising the vibrancy of downtown, helping existing small businesses, enhancing downtown as a retail and entertainment destination for visitors and driving sales tax revenues even higher.

It is worth noting that this transformation is being driven not by government, but by private investors and their faith in our resort economy. Developers have shown a growing willingness to take chances on major projects in the area between Third and 13th streets. And as each project is approved and completed, it encourages others to make similar investments.

We think their investments will pay off, for them and the city as a whole.

These are no small undertakings. A summary of what has been done in the past three years:

Waterside Village, a commercial and residential development at the corner of 11th and Yampa, opened last year. It includes 13 townhomes and nine commercial spaces.

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Construction has begun on Alpenglow at Sixth and Lincoln. It is about 45,000 square feet, including 7,700 square feet of retail space.

Construction has begun on Howelsen Place, which will replace the Harbor Hotel at Seventh and Lincoln. It includes about 118,000 square feet, 41,000 square feet of which is retail space.

Work has started on Riverwalk at Fifth and Yampa, which will include 240,000 square feet of residential and commercial space.

As noted above, the City Council approved The Olympian at Fifth and Yampa last week. It will include 23 condos and 7,700 square feet of retail space.

The Victoria at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue is in the planning process and will feature about 25,000 square feet of condo, office and retail space.

These six projects will add nearly 200 residential units to downtown, an eighth of which will be affordable units. New stores, shops and restaurants are being added. And buildings and spacees that needed to go away – the Harbor Hotel, the Alpiner, Rocky Mountain Discount Liquors, Emerald City and Westland Mobile Home Park – are going away.

Throw in some of the other projects of recent years – the new Ski and Bike Kare building, the new Cugino’s, the renovations at Lyon’s Corner Drug and Azteca Taqueria and the Chieftain Building – and you can see what Realtor and developer Jim Cook means when he says downtown Steamboat is being reinvented. Cook, who is involved in half of the big six projects going on downtown, sees downtown Steamboat becoming an attractive entertainment district.

Cook and Paul Franklin, developer of The Olympian, have been progressive and community-minded in their approaches. Cook imposed a 0.25 percent transfer fee on sales of units in his three developments to be used for arts efforts downtown. Similarly, Franklin will use a transfer fee on his units to help fund the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Developers are often easy targets of blame for growth, traffic and escalating real estate prices. But downtown Steamboat Springs is undergoing an extreme makeover that will benefit the community for decades to come. And it would not have happened without the vision and investment of the development community.