Routt County commits $1M to Brown Ranch planning

First phase of project will include about 500 units and hopes to start in 2024

The Brown Ranch is a 536-acre property west of Steamboat Springs purchased by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority in August 2021.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County will give the Yampa Valley Housing Authority $1 million to pay for detailed infrastructure design for the first phase of construction at Brown Ranch.

The contribution is seen as a key first step that hopes to garner more funding for the infrastructure design, which is estimated to cost about $3.9 million and could be completed by the end of next year. The first phase of construction at Brown Ranch is expected to include about 500 units, and hopes are to break ground in 2024

“That $1 million number is a statement within itself,” said Commissioner Tim Redmond. “It says to our community that we have made a commitment, we believe in this project and we are supporting it moving forward.”

The design work is for the first phase of the project, being called phase 1A at this point. It will be on the southeast corner of the 536-acre Brown Ranch property, which the housing authority purchased last year with money from an anonymous donor.

Current planning intends to link up this section of the community with roads in the Overlook subdivision, which is currently under construction. This first area represents a little more than 20% of the 2,300 units planned for Brown Ranch.

In addition to money from the county, the housing authority hopes to get grant funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Health Foundation. The rest of this planning will be paid for using about $900,000 from the housing authority’s development fund, which is collected through a 1-mill property tax passed in 2017.

“This is really an investment in a long-term solution that we haven’t had an opportunity ever to do,” said Commissioner Beth Melton. “In addition to the financial support, I think the vote of confidence in the work that you are doing is equally important.”

Planning shared on Monday, Aug. 15, with the Steamboat Springs School Board shows the Brown Ranch property divided into four neighborhoods. The one to the southeast labeled as A would be the first part of the property that would be developed.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

Commissioners emphasized that $1 million is a significant amount for the county, despite receiving $5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and having strong sales tax revenues. County Manager Jay Harrington said most of the pandemic relief aid has already been committed with between $300,000 and $400,000 left.

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“This is a real statement of commitment. It’s easy enough to spend ARPA funds that were given to us,” said Commissioner Tim Corrigan. “This is real taxpayer dollars we’re talking about — local taxpayer dollars.”

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said getting this contribution was important both for getting other grants and allowing the housing authority to work on projects in Steamboat Springs and at Brown Ranch in parallel.

“We’re in this scenario where the opportunities outstrip our existing set of resources,” Peasley said. “The more resources we bring in, the more we can take advantage of all these other opportunities that we have.”

The housing authority’s Anglers 400 project is also under construction. Next in line is a development near U.S. Highway 40 in Steamboat known as Mid-Valley, which will add 200 units, including some for purchase.

“I don’t think this community can afford waiting for units to come on line at Brown Ranch, because that’s several years down the line,” Peasley said.

Peasley has not yet made a similar request to Steamboat Springs. This is because the city and housing authority will need to go through a process to annex Brown Ranch into Steamboat.

It was a lengthy process spanning multiple years when part of Brown Ranch, then known as Steamboat 700, was being considered for annexation. Peasley said he hopes that annexation talks can start before the end of the year.

“I have asks for them that aren’t necessarily money, but might have as much impact as money on sort of the timing of things,” Peasley said. “I think (moving efficiently through annexation) would be a significant contribution to the success of the project.”

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