Steamboat Resort proposes a new way to fund major improvements

City, resort officials to continue negotiations following president and COO's presentation

This conceptual rendering shows how officials at Steamboat Resort hope to upgrade the Gondola Transit Center to create a better arrival experience.
Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp./Courtesy photo

After touting the resort and highlighting its recent and ongoing construction projects, the president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. laid out plans to continue remaking Steamboat Resort with a boost from money generated through six new metro districts.

On Tuesday, May 2, President and COO Rob Perlman approached Steamboat Springs City Council with a desired timeline in which he hopes resort officials and city staff can work out an agreement creating a service plan for the new metro districts.

As presented, the metro districts would be put over almost a dozen resort-owned properties, and each would have the ability to impose a self-tax that could be borrowed against to fund public improvements at those sites.

The resort’s timeline for the metro districts approval would have City Manager Gary Suiter submit the plan to City Council by June 1. Council would need to approve creation of the metro districts by Aug. 22 to allow them to go to a landowners’ vote in November. A public improvements plan would be finalized by the end of December, and construction could start in May 2024.

After questioning Perlman and a couple of other resort representatives for more than 30 minutes, City Council members expressed support for the plan to fund public improvements through metro districts and instructed city staff to continue the discussions.

“It’s a beautiful plan, but I reserve judgement until I see the service plan,” Council member Joella West said.

Making the case for the city’s cooperation, Perlman mentioned the resort’s 60th anniversary celebration and the opening of a new ice rink, a main stage, a child care center and the Wild Blue Gondola. He celebrated having the second-snowiest season on record this winter, which gave the resort its first extended season in 30 years, and he championed the $220 million, resort-funded Full Steam Ahead project entering its third and final phase this spring.

“Now we need to move further towards the base of the resort and into the transportation center and into the welcome, and the sense of arrival and where our visitors come and experience Steamboat Resort,” Perlman said. “We are here (Tuesday) to talk about a funding mechanism to make those improvements.”

Andrew Lang, vice president of strategic planning and development for Alterra Mountain Company, told council members another reason Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. wants to create the metro districts now is because 10 or 11 company-owned development parcels are changing ownership to third-party developers and creating the metro districts would be less cumbersome under one owner. Alterra is the parent company of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

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“To be frank, not many developers are willing to tax themselves or the benefit of others, nothing against developers, but it’s a pretty unique circumstance where we have an entity that owns every parcel and is willing to levy this tax that all future developments will be subject to,” Lang said.

He explained that the districts have to be formed by an election of the landowners, and missing this November’s ballot would mean waiting until fall 2024, thus delaying the start of any construction work planned for that year until at least 2025.

During the presentation, Perlman and Lang presented a slide show detailing a series of the improvements resort officials are planning. Among them is a gondola running from the Gondola Transit Center to Meadows Parking Lot, and a fully reimagined Gondola Transit Center.

Presented to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, by resort officials, this rendering maps out a gondola running from the Meadows Parking Lot to the Gondola Transit Center at Steamboat Resort.
Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp./Courtesy photo

The planned work would raise the bar for the entrance while seeking to improve safety and the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Perlman also said the resort’s plans are directly in line with the city’s Mountain Area Master Plan, which was approved in 2022 with stakeholders’ input.

“We have a world-class resort, we’ve made significant improvements, and now it’s time to address the underwhelming arrival experience, to address many of the factors associated with what is outlined in the Mountain Area Master Plan in terms of safety, in terms of pedestrian and vehicle interaction, in terms of looking to the future and building that capacity,” Perlman said.

Lang told council members that resort officials hope to raise $16 million initially through the metro districts. Another $10 million is envisioned to come from the Urban Renewal Authority. Those monies would then be used for the first phase of construction at the reimagined Gondola Transit Center, including pedestrian improvements, road improvements and a gondola running from the Meadows Parking Lot to the Gondola Transit Center.

Lang also said there would be additional bonding potential that could pay for other qualified improvements in the future, as the Urban Renewal Authority — and the funding that comes with it — is set to expire in 2029.

City Council members seemed wary and questioned how much the districts would raise through taxes and the scope of future work that might be funded through the metro districts. Some council members seemed to want a public improvement agreement detailing a list of potential improvements in place before giving their approval in August.

Lang and a company attorney responded by saying the public improvement agreement would be an essential part of the creation of the metro districts — and the districts wouldn’t be able to function without it in place — but negotiating that “comprehensive agreement” before August didn’t seem feasible and delaying the August decision would likely delay any construction. They also said more details would be in the service plan, which will go to council in June.

“We’re intending to use this as a mechanism to fund improvements that we’re willing to self-impose taxes on so that we can continue, as I said, the momentum and start really creating a great benefit to the Gondola Transportation Center, to the traffic flow, to the Meadows, to the gondola, that is the intent,” Perlman said. “That is the goal, to create additional bond capacity with all of the parcels.”

In other business:

• During Brown Ranch updates, City Council got a brief summary of some of the deed restrictions that could be written into for-sale housing units’ property deeds at the Brown Ranch and other workforce housing developments.

Deed restrictions are designed to ensure a residential property remains affordable from one sale to another, and they stay with the property into perpetuity across different owners.

City attorney Dan Foote explained that the restrictions could include an array of provisions including residency and work requirements, caps on appreciation to limit maximum sales prices, wealth restrictions preventing some people from buying the homes and more.

“If we’re going to use these (deed restrictions), we’re going to have to have a conversation about what to do with remote workers,” Foote told City Council.

• During the city manager’s update, Suiter warned council members costs “are going up” on the new city hall project because “the final bids are coming in high.”

“Some are coming in way high without really explanation, so we have pushed pause for the time being, just now while we evaluate those bids — see if we can get other bids that are more competitive, (and) review them to make sure they are consistent with the markets right now,” he said. “We are also working with the design team on value engineering, so we’re going back to the drawing board to see if there can be more cuts in this project to rein it in, hopefully not too much over budget.”

Suiter said city staff will bring this issue back before City Council before signing a maximum price contract because the cost will likely be more than previous figures. Suiter said he doesn’t believe this will delay the project.

An excavator driven by Bruce Cowell of Dynamis Demolition lifts an HVAC system off the roof of the Steamboat Springs City Hall building Tuesday, May 2, 2023, as crews start the demolition of the exterior of the building to make room for a new city hall and fire station. The HVAC system is headed to Regis University where it will be repurposed.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

• Suiter told council the application period for the chief of police search has closed. He said the next step will be for city officials to meet with members of the police department before crafting a hiring process.

“We all came to a consensus that’s the best approach,” Suiter said. “The police department is very passionate about having involvement in the process and participating in the process, and we really want to get their opinions before we just design a process and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.'”

• City Council voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone considerations of a resolution authorizing the Overlook Park Metropolitan District to exercise the power of eminent domain.

• Council members unanimously passed an ordinance temporarily suspending enforcement of short-term rental off-street parking requirements for Ski Times Square Condominiums on second reading. Language was added mandating that advertisements disclose the lack of parking.

• Recognizing that historic preservation can be a tool for revitalizing neighborhoods, enhancing property values, promoting heritage tourism, fostering local pride and maintaining the community’s character, City Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing May as Historic Preservation Month in Steamboat Springs.

Suiter noted that free pinwheels are available at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., to celebrate the occasion.

“If you support historic preservation, pick up a free pinwheel and put it in your favorite spot,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be a historical spot because this is a historical town, so show your support by picking up a free pinwheel and plant it in your favorite place.”

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