Residents of Ski Time Square Condos without parking after structure closed
For nearly a month, longtime Ski Time Square Condominiums resident Cathy Vanderwork has been coming to grips with how her life will change after the parking structure she has depended on was deemed too dangerous and closed by local officials.
“Thirty days, we got 30 days,” said Vanderwork, who is considering paying up to $500 a month to store her SUV at a lot off Elk River Road. “I’m not supposed to be on my legs for long lengths of time.
“I’m going to have to take a shuttle to my car, go do my grocery shopping, and then I will try to get some kind of parking here — I might be able to get into handicap space. Then I will have to get my groceries up to my unit. I will have to go back down to my car and take my car to storage, then walk the mile down to get to the shuttle, and then stay on a shuttle for however long it takes me to get home.”
The truth is she is still scrambling to come up with a plan for how she will take care of day-to-day living activities after the parking garage she depends on was fenced off and then closed on Oct. 10. Signs were posted by the Routt County Building Department, which is actually representing the city because the property falls inside of Steamboat Springs.
“The building department had to post this structure as dangerous on Oct. 10, 2022, and issue a notice of violation based on the documentation provided to us from the property owner,” said Todd Carr, building official. “The documentation we received was a copy of an email provided by the (Ski Time Square) HOA from the engineering they hired to assess the condition of the building. The report stated the building should be vacated immediately based on their structural observations.”
Carr said the building department followed up by conducting an on-site inspection on Oct. 12, when officials observed temporary shoring jacks installed along the south and north exterior walls being used to potentially support the load-bearing ends of the parking structure.
“Due to the temporary shoring not being a permanent accepted method of supporting loads on the building, we maintain our dangerous building notice was legitimate,” Carr said. “In our notice of violation, we requested the building remain vacated until after the owner hires a structural engineering firm to properly assess the building and provide us a full report for review upon conclusion of the assessment.”
Carr said the code compliant process and notice of violation provided to the owner allows the building to be repaired or deconstructed, and the property owner is responsible for that decision.
Residents like Cheri Arnold, who purchased her unit in 2012 with hopes of eventually living in it full-time when she retired, are hoping to work with developer DBT, which owns the property, to find a compromise. Currently, the Ski Time Square HOA has a 98-year lease on the parking structure.
“This has just been such a new thing that I don’t know,” Arnold said. “We’re just hopeful that there will be some kind of compromise, that something will happen where at least, maybe temporarily, we can shore it up for the season and work things out with DBT where we can actually come to some good decisions and move forward.”
Both Arnold and her daughter have lived in Steamboat the past two years. Her daughter worked full time at the front desk and she worked a seasonal job at the Sheraton as well. However, Arnold said her unit will be empty this year and her plans to have family for the winter will not happen.
“We were going to stay, but once we heard about this we said, no,” Arnold said. “We wanted our daughter to be able to come see us for Thanksgiving and have our other daughter in California, too, but they’re not going to have anywhere to park.”
The Ski Time Square Condominiums building has a long history, according to resident and HOA board member Marcus Fresques, who provided a four-page summary of the building, as well as a copy of the lease agreement that provides parking for the condos.
According to Fresques’s documents, the five-story, 80-unit building at the base of the Steamboat Resort was built by Sunray Land corporation in the early 1970s as part of the four-plus acre development called Ski Time Square Plaza.
Originally, there was a small, above-ground parking lot — less than 20 parking spaces — and open parking structures situated behind the condominium building with access off Burgess Creek Road. At that time, residents entered the condominiums at the third floor on the rear of the building. The parking structures collapsed sometime after the completion of the condominiums in 1972.
Numerous other buildings were built as part of the Ski Time Square Plaza development, consisting of retail spaces, restaurants and more condominiums. The parking lot above the garage was used by Sunray’s other tenants and guests of the surrounding buildings. Once the Ski Time Square Condominiums were platted, the condos separated from the rest of the development. The remaining acreage has had a small succession of owners.
The documents also state that the Ski Time Square Condominiums HOA presently has a 98-year lease on the underground parking structure, terminating in October 2072. The agreement for the lease was entered into on Oct. 29, 1974, between the developer Sunray and the HOA, and it also addresses easements, as well as protective covenants for a grassy quadrangle directly in front of the condominiums bordered by Burgess Creek.
Over the years, the property and parking structure have been sold several times. Sunray sold the Ski Time Square land and buildings to Ski Time Square Enterprises sometime in the 1970s. Then in April 2007, STSE sold the Ski Time Square area to Cafritz Interests LLC.
Cafritz had plans to develop Ski Time Square, which included the demolition of the parking structure, and was working with the HOA on a new parking arrangement. However, Cafritz got caught in the 2008 financial recession and, finally in 2010, had to return the land to Fortress in lieu of paying back the loan Cafritz took to purchase the property. The property was subsequently purchased from Fortress by DBT Development Group in September 2019.
The parking deck above the garage has been leased by both Fortress and DBT in the winter to Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. In June 2021, DBT stopped allowing any parking on the upper deck.
In 2021, DBT got a green light from Steamboat Springs Planning Commission for a proposed mixed-use development on Ski Time Square Drive — The Thunderhead Station. At the time, the project was slated at 1950 Ski Time Square Drive and included four residential and two commercial units in a new, five-story building. The project was expected to be completed by 2023.
Recently, homeowners in Ski Time Square Condominiums started reaching out to the HOA and its board members with concerns about the shape of the garage.
“It looked like it was it was crumbling, and it was just in disrepair,” Fresques said. “So that’s why we got our first engineering report back in 2020 from Steamboat Engineering and Design, and they said it was unsound.”
Fresques said those reports were passed along to DBT with hopes the company might address some of the concerns. Those owners passed the reports on to the building department, leading to October’s closure.
The HOA has filed a legal complaint against DBT Thunderhead LLC in district court. Fresques said the hearing was a last resort for the association and will not take place until April 2023. He said the HOA would rather settle outside of the courtroom.
“I think anytime you go to court, which is kind of our, that’s the last thing we wanted to do as an HOA, because you never really know how a judge is going to rule, one, so there’s uncertainty there. Two, It’s also a very long process, so basically, as a board, we’ve wanted to work with DBT since they’ve owned the property since 2019. We were basically brought to this position of having to file a lawsuit because of their inability to work with us whatsoever.”
The Steamboat Pilot & Today’s efforts to reach DBT and owner David Tolson for comment Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 1, were unsuccessful.
Fresques said homeowners at Ski Time Square Condominiums are also facing many other changes since the closure of the parking structure. He said residents can’t sell or rent their units without clarifying the parking situation to real estate agents and guests. It is also indirectly impacting property management companies, limiting parking for businesses in Ski Time Square.
“The units are not rentable or sellable during this period of no parking,” Fresques said. “I had a real estate agent reach out to me about a potential sale, and he wanted a clarification on the parking. It’s a mess that impacts the whole community. It’s the result of the Ski Time Square community trying to do the right thing for its residents. DBT’s inaction and inability to work with the community is the driving force behind this hardship for everyone impacted either directly of indirectly.”
As of Nov. 1, residents of Ski Time Square Condominiums can no longer park overnight on Ski Time Square drive. Instead, they have been given temporary access to the top level of the Steamboat Grand parking structure, but that will end on Nov. 22, the day before Steamboat Resort opens.
Fresques is currently looking for parking options for residents including places like the Strings Music Pavilion and Haymaker Golf Course and offering shuttle service from those places.
“We need to have interim parking, and then we can go on from there,” Fresques said. “But the ultimate goal is to have permanent parking for the Ski Time Square Condominiums, and I think best-case scenario, each owner would have an opportunity to own their own parking spot. We totally understand that any developer that owns this land is going to want to develop the land at some point, and we just need to make sure that we’re not left out of that process.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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