Council has concerns about project

Steamboat Springs City Council members expressed concern Tuesday night about the height of buildings proposed for a condominium project next to Gondola Square.

Council members also praised project applicant Whitney Ward for bringing forward plans that they hoped would spark more redevelopment at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

"I am very excited about the project. It is kind of a jump-start to get going," Councilwoman Kathy Connell said.

One Steamboat Place, the development that would be on a 4.2-acre parcel south of Gondola Square and adjacent to the ski school, would include the land where the gondola parking lot now sits.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Ward presented plans for a six-story, 150,000-square-foot condo building and a five-story, 100,000-square-foot condo building. Plans also call for two additions to the gondola building, a 10,000-square-foot expansion for an amenities building and a 6,000-square-foot addition to the ski school.

The plan also incorporates a pedestrian walkway that would take skiers from the Gondola Transit Center shuttle drop-off area to Gondola Square.

In addition, the plan proposes a gondola that would run from the Meadows parking lot to One Steamboat Place. The developers still need to negotiate with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and the city before deciding whether the gondola would be open to the public.

Almost all of the council members at Tuesday night's preapplication hearing worried that the proposed buildings would be too tall. The two condo buildings would have overall heights of 116 feet and 111 feet, which are well higher than the 67 feet allowed in the zone district.

"The height of the project, that is a stumbling block for me. That is your challenge," Councilman Ken Brenner said.

Councilman Steve Ivancie worried that the size and height of the buildings would block views of the ski area from Mount Werner Circle.

Councilwoman Kathy Con- nell said it would be important to have studies done about the shadow of the buildings and where those shadows would cast. Some worried the shadows would fall on Gondola Square and the Gondola Transit Center.

Councilman Loui Antonucci said that although height was a concern, it might not be so noticeable when other land around the project is redeveloped.

"If we really want to change the look of the base area and upgrade the whole area, somewhere along the line we need to have faith in the developer and take a leap of faith with them," Antonucci said.

Council members said they were not too worried about the density of the project, which also is greater than what zoning allows. Most council members said that more density was expected on land that is going to be redeveloped at the base area.

Ward is proposing to place a self-imposed real estate transfer tax on the initial and subsequent sales of units in One Steamboat Place and another nearby residential project, Wildhorse Mead-ows. The money would go toward a nonprofit for affordable housing, and Ward estimated that initial sales would bring in $2.5 million for that cause.

Although council members liked Ward's idea of a self-imposed real estate tax on the sale of units for affordable housing, they also said they wanted to see employee housing in the units.

"You need to have employee housing. If every development has a few employee housing units, it will help add people to the area and help add vitality," Council President Paul Strong said.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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