Tom Ross’s top 6 stories from 2017

Tom Ross

who have household incomes 60 percent or less of median here, began moving into their new homes in August.
Tom Ross

Steamboat Ski Area gets new owners

As the 2016-17 ski season came to a close in April, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. embarked on a new chapter in its 54-year history, with the announcement that it, along with the other resorts held by publicly-traded Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc., were in the process of being acquired by a new company being formed by KSL Capital Partners, LLC, owners of the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in California, and the Henry Crown Family, which owns ski resorts in Aspen.  

The resorts sold for about $1.5 billion. And the new owners weren’t done with their buying spree. 

Subsequently, they acquired two more industry heavyweights in Mammoth Mountain, California, and Deer Valley, Utah, near Park City. It was a clear sign that the acquisitions amount to a strategy to compete with the ever-expanding Vail Resorts empire and its potentially dominant Epic Pass, which represents the ultimate “loyalty card” for destination skiers. 

Ski and Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Perlman offered assurances that the new ownership group (it had still to announce a corporate name by year’s end) understood and valued the unique communities that are home to their new resorts and the contributions the character of each resort makes to the corporate brand.

Among the other resorts the new operating company acquired in the transaction were Winter Park (management contract); Tremblant, Quebec; Blue Mountain, Ontario; Stratton, Vermont; and Snowshoe, West Virginia. Those resorts have customer bases in major metro markets, including Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Steamboat’s ‘College on the Hill’

As 2017 began, Colorado Mountain College celebrated 50 years as a college system in Colorado, and the Steamboat Springs campus recognized its own 50th year as a campus and 36th year as a part of CMC.

Founder of the Steamboat campus, Lucille Bogue, recorded in her 1987 book,
“Miracle on a Mountain,” that 11 students gathered at the Methodist Church for the first day of classes in September 1962. Four years later, the school moved into its permanent home on Woodchuck Hill.

The college survived periods of uncertainty over the decades but thrives today as part of the taxpayer-funded system of campuses on Colorado’s Western Slope. 

In 2017, Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs was offering a mix of two-year associates degrees, including culinary arts and ski business, four-year degrees in sustainability studies and continuing education classes from computer skills to backcountry orienteering and yoga that continue to bind the community to the college. 

CMC celebrated its 50th birthday in style on Feb. 11 with a reception followed by prime viewing of the Winter Carnival fireworks display.

The Reserves create new affordable housing in the Yampa Valley

The first residents of the 48-unit Reserves at Steamboat affordable apartment building, all of who have household incomes 60 percent or less of median here, began moving into their new homes in August.

The community housing project, orchestrated by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, marked the greatest success the city and county have achieved in more than 15 years of effort to increase workforce housing.

By August, the 48-apartment project at 2000 Elk River Road was fully leased, and families were moving their belongings into comfortable, two- and three-bedroom homes with 9-foot ceilings, nice flooring and ample soundproofing. Rents ranged from $615 to $959 a month, based on income levels, for a two-bedroom apartment.

Voters approve tax to build on housing success

Voters in Steamboat Springs and nearby suburbs voted Nov. 7 to approve the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s ballot question seeking a 10-year, one-mill property tax increase intended to allow the authority to build upon its success in 2016 and 2017 developing the 48-unit income-restricted Reserves at Steamboat on the city’s west side.

The housing authority is counting on the new tax to generate $900,000 annually over a decade to leverage grants and private sector partnerships to build more community housing

“This is the first step toward making good on our pledge to the community to build 350 low income-level units, 350 seasonal beds and 150 entry-level units utilizing the funds from the 1-mill property tax approved this week,” Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said.

Home prices reach a “tipping point”

In October, Steamboat Today reported that single-family homes listed for sale in the $400,000 range in Steamboat had all but disappeared from the local market. The conclusion was that the city had reached a tipping point — households looking for a traditional home on its own lot might be compelled to look beyond the city in smaller communities in Routt County. Realtors confirmed the scarcity.

Within a few weeks of the article’s publication, the sale of a handful of single-family homes in the $400,000 range sold in the city, suggesting they may not have been listed by a Realtor. And even though new, small-scale residential building lots were coming onto the market in the new Sunlight subdivision, the handwriting was on the wall: single family homes priced in the $400s are an endangered species in the city limits. 

Barn Village emblematic of real estate recovery

When the sale of the last of the original 62 building lots in Steamboat Barn Village sold for $243,999 in August, it marked a milestone in the recovery of Steamboat Springs’ housing market since the Great Recession a decade earlier. 

Original lot prices in the 13-year-old subdivision off Pine Grove Road sold for more than $500,000. Despite a successful rollout, the promise of the development collapsed when the national housing bubble burst.

But beginning in 2013, under the guidance of new owner Gibraltar Capital Management, the subdivision has bounced back with 36 homes completed or under construction. The two most recent building permits had values of $678,000 and $750,000 affirming that Barn Village has matured into a neighborhood of homes with compatible architecture costing just over $1 million each. 

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