Redevelopment of old YVEA campus could start soon on Yampa Street
Steamboat Springs — Parts of Yampa Street could start to take on a whole new look this summer.
After the snow melts, Blue Sage Ventures hopes to start transforming the empty Yampa Valley Electric Association headquarters that occupies an entire block of the street into a more vibrant mix of residential, commercial and retail spaces.
At the same time, city staff is moving ahead with a plan to raze the old Workman house on another end of the popular downtown roadway and convert the property into a park with terracing down to the river.
The projects are separate from each other, but both have the potential to change very visible parts of the street and make them more friendly to pedestrians.
The developer that is repurposing the YVEA building cleared an important first hurdle Thursday night after the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission quickly and unanimously endorsed a variance for the project that will allow a new 16-space parking lot to be constructed at the corner of Ninth and Yampa streets.
The approval of the parking lot is dependent on the developer following through with plans for an adaptive reuse of the building.
Noting that parking is already being compressed downtown, Blue Sage Ventures principal Steve Shelesky told the commission the additional on-site parking was important for the project.
City staff agreed, telling the commission that although a surface parking lot adjoining a downtown street “is generally considered detrimental to a good pedestrian environment and prohibited by code,” the advantages of incentivizing the adaptive re-use of the building outweighed the disadvantages.
The commission needed only a few minutes to approve the parking lot component of the project.
Shelesky said he plans to submit a final development plan to the city next week.
The project is poised to create a place that is more inviting to pedestrians than the industrial YVEA headquarters.
YVEA recently completed the move to its new headquarters at what used to be the TIC campus in west Steamboat.
Work to repurpose the old campus could begin soon.
Phase one of the project would create commercial spaces out of what used to be the garage spaces at YVEA that face Yampa.
A plaza also will be created In the place of the existing parking pad and garage entry at the site.
In the second phase of the project, three residential condominiums with accompanying two-car garages would be constructed.
Shelesky said he hopes to close on the purchase of the property in May.
The project follows a slew of recent changes on Yampa that include the opening of new restaurants and the addition of overhead LED lights meant to improve pedestrian safety at night and give the street a more festive atmosphere.
Council open to expediting park construction
The city recently purchased the Workman property on Yampa Street for $610,000 using lodging tax dollars that voters approved spending on Yampa improvements.
Earlier this month, the Steamboat Springs City Council indicated it wanted to consider a budget proposal that would convert the property into a park this summer instead of waiting until 2016 when the full amount of lodging tax dollars are scheduled to be available for the work.
City staff told the council there was enough money available to borrow from the lodging tax reserves to be able to fund the work sooner.
“Let’s get it done, and get using it,” council member Tony Connell said after city staff pitched the plan to do the work sooner.
Staff will bring the council back a budget proposal to consider soon.
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Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting voters throughout Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Through the month of May, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Craig…