Steamboat tests new planning process on Ptarmigan redevelopment |

Steamboat tests new planning process on Ptarmigan redevelopment

The city of Steamboat Springs is working with a team intent on redeveloping the Ptarmigan Inn, which will help city officials test a new planning process.
John F. Russell

— The city is working with a team intent on redeveloping the Ptarmigan Inn to try out a new planning process intended to give redevelopers more certainty in the city approval process as they work in a difficult financing environment.

The new conceptual pilot program could be used in place of the existing pre-application process, where developers get feedback on a new project from city officials but no formal vote of approval or denial is taken by the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission or Steamboat Springs City Council. The new conceptual process would result in a vote on limited aspects of new commercial or multifamily housing projects, but there are qualities such as density that matter a great deal to developers.

City Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said he thinks the new conceptual pilot program could work in favor of developers and the community.

“Developers want as much certainty and predictability as they can get because of the risk they take on. But that also benefits all of us. It works to the city’s favor, as well,” Gibbs said.

In the case of the Ptarmigan, the project being considered would transform 73 1970s-era hotel rooms into 72 luxury slopeside condominiums in a 10-story building. The new construction could continue to stimulate the generation of property-tax revenues through the Urban Renewal Authority. Those monies, in turn, could to be put to work on public improvements already ongoing at the ski base and stoking the resort’s economic engine.

Senior City Planner Bob Keenan is working most closely with the Ptarmigan proposal by Bruce Shugart and Richard Dean, of The Porches at Steamboat, and architect Eric Smith, of Eric Smith Associates.

Keenan said the conceptual process would allow the developers to obtain formal approval of aspects of their project — such as the preliminary site plan, building density of the site and building mass — before taking on the greater expense of going to full engineering drawings, for example.

Gibbs said part of the intent of the conceptual pilot program is to help developers gain approval for elements of the project that are critical to the business pro forma that is a prerequisite to obtaining financing.

The words developers long to hear are, “There are no fatal flaws,” and, “There’s no reason why you can’t build a building on this site with a yield of x number of (salable) square feet,” for example, Gibbs said.

2nd time around for team

The Ptarmigan site, including an out lot not currently occupied by the hotel, comprises 1.29 areas bordering the lowest ski slopes at Steamboat. The site is between Ironwood and the Ptarmigan House condominiums and accessed via an entry drive off Après Ski Way.

The developers propose to build 72 condominiums ranging from two bedrooms to five bedrooms with 174,575 net salable square feet and a total of 256,097 square feet including amenity areas measuring 2,822 square feet and 3,855 square feet.

The 10-story building would be built roughly in a rectangular horseshoe shape with the open end addressing the ski slopes. It would fit within the 105-foot building-height maximum in the Gondola 2 Zone District, Keenan said. However, the drawings of the building show nine roof elevations where it is stepped back with the goal of giving every condominium a view of the ski slopes.

Denver’s Oz Architecture produced the elevation drawings, which also did the design work on nearby Edgemont, reflect a building that would fit in with Edgemont and nearby One Steamboat Place without appearing identical.

Since Shugart and Dean last began the city planning process in 2007, before pulling back in the real estate downturn, the city has shifted away from the sometimes-vague planned unit development process. The process required developers to provide unspecified public benefits to offset variances from the city code.

Now, the city simply requires that the developers make a contribution to the Urban Renewal Authority beyond property tax revenues.

In addition, the city will require the building to achieve sustainable qualities approximate to those of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or Green Globes, Keenan said, and will be required to provide public amenities, courtyards or walking areas for example, that conform to the mountain design guidelines.

Gibbs said the give and take between his staff and the Ptarmigan developers already has led to modifications within the conceptual pilot program.

“It’s exciting to work with developers who have this much experience in the city’s process,” Gibbs said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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