Yampa Valley Housing Authority under contract to buy Steamboat 700 property

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority will own 536 acres of land to the west of Steamboat Springs by Aug. 11, creating hope that the ski town’s housing crisis may have a long-term solution.

On Monday, the housing authority’s board of directors unanimously agreed to enter into a contract to buy the land, and the deal has already been signed by Steamboat 700 LLC, the property’s current owner.

Initially, the offer for the property was $23 million, with the funding coming from an anonymous benefactor, and over the past two weeks, Steamboat 700 and the person making the donation to buy the land have been in negotiations.

In a special meeting Monday, the housing authority board met for a short executive session to discuss the contract, before emerging to unanimously approve the deal. The precise terms of the deal, including the purchase price, were not disclosed Monday, as the seller requested the negotiated amount remain secret until the deal closes.

“This is something that is going to be a defining, incredible, amazing change for our community,” said Catherine Carson, who serves on the housing authority board. “This is just wildly exciting, and it’s going to be a very thoughtful, community-driven project.”

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority approved a contract to buy the land long known at Steamboat 700, a 536 acre parcel west of Steamboat Springs.

The property has been pointed to as a source of housing development in Steamboat for more than a decade and, more recently, has been labeled a potential “golden key” to stem a local housing crisis that has only gotten worse as Steamboat reopened after pandemic-related closures this spring.

While Monday’s development resets the landscape for where housing could be built around Steamboat, Jason Peasley, executive director of the housing authority, tried to temper any expectations that people would see excavation on the project start anytime soon.

“This isn’t something that we’re trying to do overnight,” Peasley said. “This is a long-term strategy, which the first step here is to engage in a master planning process to identify the best way to develop it out.”

Peasley said there are several challenges, such as how to provide infrastructure for the development, that will need to be worked on with local partners. The land would also likely need to be annexed into the city of Steamboat Springs, which can be done by City Council, though that could be challenged by residents.

“We only get one shot to do this, so we need to be very thoughtful, careful about how we do it,” Peasley said. “At the end of the day, we are going to be building a community of a pretty large size, and so that’s really exciting. I’m ready to go.”

Unless the deal falls through before the Aug. 11 closing date, this is the first time the land has changed hands since it was purchased by Steamboat 700 in 2007, which, at the time, proposed gradually building as many of 2,000 homes in the area north of U.S. Highway 40 just beyond the current Steamboat Springs city limits.

In 2010, voters rejected annexation of the land into the city. The most recent effort to develop part of the land — West Steamboat Neighbors — ended in 2018, even though voters approved annexation.

Peasley stressed that the housing authority has housing solutions that have been in the works for years that will be realized soon, with the Anglers development breaking ground later in 2021.

“The nearer term solutions have already been worked on and are already in various stages of development,” Peasley said. “This is going to be very much a long-term approach to our housing needs.”

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