Selling Steamboat: Storm Meadows townhome sale brings back memories of ’70s era ski town |

Selling Steamboat: Storm Meadows townhome sale brings back memories of ’70s era ski town

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Unit 12 at Storm Meadows Townhomes harkens back to a time when people on the ski slopes donned flared Lycra pants, wore their hair big and “hot dogging” had just gotten its start. Built in the groovy 1970s, the quintessential ski-in/ski-out Steamboat Springs townhome may have gotten several major upgrades over the decades but its vibe remains the same.

It’s a nostalgic property for Barb Shipley of Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty. She has represented either side of the transaction over the last three decades as Unit 12 was bought and sold six times. What’s more is Shipley’s 101-year-old mother owns Unit 4 just down the road, which she purchased in 1973.

The love for Storm Meadows Townhomes runs even deeper as Shipley and her husband, John, owned the company that managed the properties for 17 years.

“As new things get built, sometimes you forget the very best locations, the original buildings built in Steamboat,” Shipley said.

Shipley’s client paid $1,100,000 for Unit 12 earlier this month but that price has gone up and down over the course of various sales since its original owner sold the property for $159,000 in 1988.

Built in 1975, the first phase of the Storm Meadows Townhomes stands on its own from the other Storm Meadows-branded properties in the same area, which include Storm Meadows condos built in 1963.

It was the happening place to be in the 1960s, with all the activity centered at the base of Steamboat Resort, which at the time, was located at the bottom of the Christie Lift. But when the resort sold in 1969, its new owners moved the base to where it is now.

“Forever the No. 1 rule in real estate was location, location, location,” Shipley said.

And at a ski resort, ski-in/ski-out is traditionally what people want.

Storm Meadows was developed by Bob Day and Olympian Marvin Crawford. At the time, they were the best ski-in/ski-out properties, according to Shipley. There are 34 townhomes, built in two groups of 12 and one group of 10. The first 12 were finished in 1973, when Shipley was in college.

“We came to Steamboat to ski, and my mother got tired of carrying groceries up and down stairs in the lower Storm Meadows,” Shipley said. “They had model units open — a true townhome — where you pulled right in and walked right into the kitchen/living/dining room.”

A major plus: the ski area was a mere 50 feet below.

In April 1973, Shipley’s mother paid $78,000 for the townhome. It was practically the newest in Steamboat. She threw on another $5,000 for the optional furniture package.

At 101, Shipley’s mother is still the unit’s owner. She visits the property from time to time but wasn’t able to last year due to concerns with COVID-19.

Shipley eventually moved to Steamboat, and her love affair with Storm Meadows continued to grow. Unit 12 was one of her first real estate sales in 1988. Her client bought the unit from its first owner, who had it from 1975 to 1988. That client then sold it in 2003 for $450,000. It then sold again two years later for $610,000.

Two more years later, in 2007, just before the major economic bubble burst, Unit 12 sold for an all-time high of $1,350,000, having undergone a $350,000 remodel. That equated to roughly $902 per square foot.

“It’s like putting old wine in a brand new bottle,” she said.

As real estate prices plummeted in the following decade, Unit 12 struggled and was eventually sold in 2017 for $800,000, representing a $550,000 depreciation.

“For years we couldn’t give them away,” Shipley said of the townhomes. “It’s just a change in the market.”

But the property’s sale this year for $1.1 million, which Shipley and her partner Adrienne Stroock represented, showed Unit 12’s intrinsic value.

When her mother bought Unit 4 in the ‘70s, it was far less common for people to have multiple “toys,” as Shipley explained. People didn’t have five different sets of skis or bikes or kayaks. The units had shag carpet and featured twin beds so they could fit many people inside, part of an attempt to grow the ski industry, she said.

But in the 1990s, the local market went through a major phase of bigger meaning better. At that time, location became less important. To find larger properties meant buying farther away from the mountain.

Size isn’t the townhome’s allure. The three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath unit is only about 1,500 square feet. Still it boasts cathedral ceilings, an open concept living room, dining room and kitchen, high-end appliances, a dramatic two-story outdoor view and — the piece de resistance — a private trail immediately behind the unit that connects with Steamboat Resort.

“You ski to your downstairs bedroom,” Shipley said. “That’s the real draw to properties like these.”

Shipley equated the sale of townhomes at Storm Meadows to the changing of the guard.

“There’s a few people who are still the owners from the ‘70s,” she said. “(The units) are either being passed down to children and grandchildren or a new generation is realizing that location is more important than size.”

That’s underscored by the fact that six of the townhomes sold in 2020. None are currently on the market.

“People want to breathe, and they want a little freedom,” she said. “They don’t care as much as how big the interior space is. In this day and age, they want to have vast exterior space that they don’t have to share.”

As Shipley likes to say, at Storm Meadows Townhomes, “You live in the view.”

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