Plans for ski base coming together

The future of the base area will be back in front of the public tonight as the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission gets a look at the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan Update.

The plan will serve as a blueprint for redeveloping and refurbishing Steamboat's resort village. Highlights of the plan include one or more skywalks between the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and a new arts/convention center where a parking ramp now stands.

A new promenade would be built to skirt the lowest ski slopes, and portions of Burgess Creek could be restored and returned to daylight. The creek currently flows through a culvert beneath the South Face and Headwall ski trails. Ski Time Square would be almost entirely redeveloped with a new road and traffic pattern.

Consultant Stan Clauson is expected to recommend that the city and private interests at the base of the ski area form a new entity to manage the long-term financing and maintenance of public improvements there.

"The critical next step is for the city and the private sector to consider implementing a special district or service district," Clauson wrote in a report to the city.

The city and key property owners at the base area have established an urban renewal authority to capture a fraction of future property tax growth in the area to fund improvements to public infrastructure. That alone has triggered new interest in redeveloping the ski area's aging base area.

If the plan be adopted by the city this fall, Clauson is urging that steps be taken to conserve momentum.

Among his recommendations is the creation of a public/private working group to gauge the potential to issue short-term bonds to underwrite improvements to the base area. He also will recommend that the city adopt design guidelines for new commercial and multifamily residential buildings.

Steamboat should consider zoning ordinances that would provide for affordable housing at the base area, Clauson recommends, and begin studying the feasibility of the conference/performing arts center.

Also recommended is a retail market study to analyze what factors contribute to storefront vacancies in the commercial centers at the ski area.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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