Our view: Don’t overlook opportunity | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Don’t overlook opportunity

For all intents and purposes, the Steamboat Springs School District's April 4 decision to release its option to purchase 70 acres of undeveloped property at the western edge of the city limits closes the final chapter on the district's failed attempt last year to pass a $92 million bond issue, which, among other things, would have built a new high school on the site.

But in our view, it also reopens the door to a potential area for housing growth in a city that has a tremendous need in that arena. And we'd ultimately like to see the site developed as a residential neighborhood as originally intended.

Before the parcel was purchased by its current owner, Yampa Valley Electric Association, for $2.025 million in June 2012, it had already cleared a number of hurdles toward development as a residential subdivision, including successfully navigating the city's lengthy and expensive planning process.

And though the initial plans for a subdivision there — at the time, dubbed Overlook Park — eventually fell through in the wake of the Great Recession, the approval for that use remains vested, meaning a renewed effort to establish a subdivision on the property would hit the ground light years ahead of the game in terms of navigating through the city planning process.

Moreover, the site already has utilities in place, ample water and a primary access road — Gloria Gossard Parkway — and it was identified by the city, the county and the community at large as a prime location for new housing. All told, the original developers spent nine years obtaining the necessary entitlements for the subdivision.

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Finally, the site fits perfectly within the frameworks of both the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan, both of which projected future housing growth in Steamboat would be to the west.

The original development plan envisioned 139 residential lots, most of which would sell in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, and we think this plan — which would offer a relatively quick, essentially turnkey opportunity to bring new housing to a city in desperate need of it — is by far the best use for the property.

And while we cannot dictate where local housing developers choose to develop projects anymore than we can dictate who YVEA eventually sells the property to, we would encourage both to take another look at the site and seriously consider putting it to the use it was prepared for — a use that would offer the greatest benefit to the city and its residents during a time when the need for housing is intensifying.

At issue:

The 70-acre site at the western edge of Steamboat Springs, currently owned by Yampa Valley Electric Association, is once again on the market.

Our view:

Given the steps that have already been taken, we think prime use for the Overlook site would be as a residential subdivision.