Hayden expands south

About 2,000 homes could be built in town during coming years

— It took seven years for developer Ron Sills and his partners to break ground, and it may be 12 to 20 years before more than 2,000 homes could be built on their 900 acres of land on the south side of Hayden.

But the work has begun.

"I'm glad we're starting," Sills said. "I think it's going to help the community, and I think it's something Hayden needs."

Grading the empty fields will begin this week, as will work to install roads and utilities for the first phase of the project, which will include 86 single-family homes. The project is the largest development the 1,800-resident town has seen. The development is a sign of growth in Hayden, and there are mixed feelings among residents. But town officials are happy to see the project finally coming to fruition.

"The town has to grow," Hayden Mayor Joe Schmin--key said. "If the town doesn't grow, it dies."

In the late 1990s, Sills identified Hayden as the growth center for the region. The relatively flat land between Steamboat Springs and Craig led him to think that Hayden would be the best location for affordable homes and commuters.

At the time, Sills had 39 employees working for his Steamboat plumbing company. Most of them chose to live in Craig because it was cheaper.

"The idea, at that time, was to try to get homes for my own guys," Sills said. "I started buying land in Hayden because that offered the best opportunity."

Today, Sills and his partners own about 2,600 acres of developable land around Hayden.

"I didn't plan on buying this much land, but it just happened," Sills said.

A groundbreaking ceremony is being held Tuesday, and the market will determine how quickly the 900 acres are developed. But Sills and his partners think they are meeting a demand. According to a Yampa Valley housing survey, about 3,500 people commute daily to Steamboat from towns to the west. They think Hayden needs to increase its population by 10,000 people in the next 15 years.

"In that climate, the businesses and the schools can thrive. If not, it just becomes a bedroom community for Steamboat," said Roger Johnson, Sills' de----velopment partner.

Johnson will lead the marketing effort for the Villages at Hayden.

The land for the development already has been annexed into the town, but only the first filing has been approved.

The filing allows West Routt Properties to build and sell 86 single-family residences west of Routt County Road 53 and directly south of the Sagewood Subdivision. Developers plan to have model homes built by September, after which they will accept home reservations. Johnson said they expect to build 15 to 25 homes this year. The developers say affordability is a priority, and Johnson said they plan to keep costs down by keeping construction and marketing in-house. They say the homes will cost about $180,000. The homes will be between 1,200 and 2,500 square feet.

"The goal is to have a somewhat mixed community from a standpoint of size and affordability," Johnson said.

About 200 of the 900 acres will be set aside as open space, with parks, lakes and a trail system. A 120-acre site has been identified for a potential sports complex to host Triple Crown Sports baseball and softball tournaments.

"I always try to look at these things as a positive," Schminkey said. "I can see where there would be a need for housing that will hopefully be a little more affordable. We'll just have to wait and see.

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