Wildhorse Meadows begins moving dirt | SteamboatToday.com

Wildhorse Meadows begins moving dirt

Lot reservations open Oct. 7

— The work being undertaken at Wildhorse Meadows isn’t glamorous, but it portends significant events to come.

Wildhorse Meadows is planned to comprise 41 luxury homes, a boutique hotel, a condominium hotel, and hillside townhomes and flats on 44 acres at the base of Mount Werner. A people-mover gondola linking Wildhorse Meadows with the future One Steamboat Place condominium tower is also in the plans.

For now, the development team is focused on moving dirt – lots of dirt.

Brent Pearson, vice president of Resort Ventures West, said this week that contractors are moving 6,500 cubic yards of dirt a day – equivalent to 360 scraper loads. The dirt being redistributed on the site is soil that was excavated from the foundation of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel six years ago.

Now, it’s being used to soften the steep grade on the east side of Wildhorse and create terraces for roads and townhomes.

Pearson is a part of a three-man development team, including David Hill, president of Resort Ventures West, and Whitney Ward, a principal in the team. Ward purchased the site from American Skiing Co. in early 2004.

Ward said he is stepping back from the lead position he had in bringing the project through the city approval process. He will defer to the vertical-development expertise that Hill and Pearson attained during their tenures as executives with Intrawest. Their former employer is the ski village developer and ski area operator best known for the village at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.

“David was the president of Intrawest Real Estate USA and was involved in building eight villages,” Pearson said.

Pearson was the financial controller during the development phase at Whistler Blackcomb and also has overseen the company’s retail division in Colorado.

“I’m a CPA at heart, and Dave’s an engineer,” Pearson added.

The first phase at Wildhorse Meadows makes up the 41 single-family home lots. Although the work began several weeks later than anticipated, Pearson is optimistic the team can deliver the product by June 30.

A VIP event is scheduled for Saturday, followed by a lot reservation event Oct. 7. The building lots are priced between $475,000 and $600,000.

Pearson said those prices reflect the range the team discussed with Realtors early in the planning stages and that they want to be consistent.

“We are not selling at the top of the range, but we don’t want to take the economic incentive out of it, and we want to stick by that word,” Pearson said.

Pearson acknowledged that a brisk sales period would help the developers move into Phase 2 and said the team is interested in finding buyers who plan to build homes on the lots themselves.

“We’ll give people incentives to build,” he said.

Not all of the fill dirt is expected to be moved before winter sets in, Pearson said, but the intent is to build the initial road base this winter, with the first lift of asphalt on the road by early summer and utilities in place so that builders could pull permits in July.

Phase 2 of the project will be more dramatic, with the team planning to tackle development of the condominium hotel and nearby community buildings. They will enter the final development permit process for the 130,000-square-foot building with the city this winter. Pearson said Resort Ventures West officials would like to launch the 15- to 18-month construction process in spring.

The development team is more likely to seek a contract or sale with a third-party hotel developer for the 200-unit boutique hotel, Pearson said. The team has had preliminary conversations with Starwood Capital (not to be confused with the Starwood hotel group) and with Mosaic.

The construction timetable for the people-mover gondola depends on the construction of One Steamboat Place, where the upper terminal would be situated. The Timbers Co. has told the team that project will be ready to receive the gondola in the spring 2009, Pearson said.

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