Yampa Valley Housing Authority board approves Brown Ranch development plan

Plan would deliver first units at Brown Ranch by end of 2026

This graphic in the Brown Ranch Community Development Plan shows how the various neighborhoods will be phased.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board approved the Brown Ranch Community Development Plan, ending 16 months of work crafting a document that lays out how an anonymous donor’s gift to Steamboat Springs could be the solution to the ski town’s decadeslong housing crisis.

The unanimous approval solicited some fanfare at the Thursday, Dec. 15, board meeting, but it was also clear that this is an early step in a massive project that is still years away from anyone living on the 536-acre property the housing authority purchased with a donation last year.

The plan was presented to the community in October and calls for construction to start in 2026, with the first units coming the end of that year. The first phase of development would be finished by the middle of 2029 and other phases would take 20 years to complete.

The Brown Ranch, which is designed to meet the 1,400 unit housing shortage currently hampering the Yampa Valley, as well as the need that will arise while the project builds out, eventually would add nearly 2,300 units of various types of housing to the west end of Steamboat Springs.

Sheila Henderson, who was brought out of retirement to lead the community outreach when crafting the plan, said the 20-member steering committee appointed last winter approved the plan on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

“This is a document that the community can be proud of,” said Housing Authority Board President Cole Hewitt.

Henderson said the steering committee has spent hundreds of hours working on this plan since they were seated last year.

“There is a lot of people involved,” Henderson said. “We’re up to 4,000 community members on this.”

Since the plan was presented in October, Henderson said community members have submitted comments about the plan, with a key concern being how the housing authority will deliver on making the development affordable. Some comments specifically mentioned the Sunlight neighborhood development on Steamboat’s west side, which initially had a hope for affordability that hasn’t panned out.

“Peoples’ concerns are, are we going to be able to keep it (affordable), like we say we are going to do,” Henderson said. “The second concern was traffic, and that’s never going to go away.”

Henderson said feedback received at the presentation and online in recent months has shown people are excited about the walkability, bikeability and open space that is incorporated into the plan. Commenters also appreciated the long, community-focused process that reached roughly a quarter of Steamboat residents to craft this plan.

One interesting trend was that commenters favored a larger, more traditional grocery store at the Brown Ranch, Henderson said. As presented, the plan called for a cooperative style grocery store that could address the affordability of food, which in Routt County is some of the highest in the state.  

“This is information that the housing authority and city can use to know what the community is still very concerned about,” said housing authority Executive Director Jason Peasley. “It’s good to have that information so that we can focus in on that particular item as we go through the very public annexation process and make sure that we’re thoroughly addressing those issues.”

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