Airport vision unveiled

— Developers have big plans for the Steamboat Springs Airport and 168 acres of privately owned land adjacent to it.

Developers representing Steamboat Springs Fly-in LLC said at a Yampa Valley Airport Commission meeting Thursday night that they plan to address the Steamboat Springs City Council within the next month about buying the airport.

This came as a surprise to several commission members because the city is spending $350,000 on updating the airport master plan and conducting an alternative-use study.

"I was pretty surprised," said council member Susan Dellinger, who also serves on the airport commission and urged the council to study alternative uses for the airport. "It was pretty interesting."

Developers Randall Reed and Richard Friedman outlined their plans for the airport. They envision a $200 million development that would include 80 new homes on the property in addition to a 10-story condo-hotel building with a penthouse restaurant overlooking downtown. A new airport terminal also would be built.

"That, of course, would be contingent on an agreement that we will put together with the city of Steamboat Springs," Friedman said.

The residences would be part of fly-in community, which allows homeowners to fly into the airport and taxi their planes to their homes.

"You drive up to your house, and you wouldn't even know there is a hangar in the backyard," said Friedman, who is developing the Chadwick Estates homes near Steamboat Ski Area.

Friedman also spent four years developing a fly-in community in Daytona Beach, Fla. It is the largest fly-in community in the United States, with nearly 550 homes accessible by taxiways.

Developers asked the airport commission to endorse the project, but commissioners encouraged the developers to approach the city about the project.

"The seller (the city of Steamboat) is going to have to decide what it wants -- and being public -- have to go through a very public process," commissioner Dan Hill said.

The developers said the fly-in community would act as an asset for the city, but it would eliminate the financial burden. They propose purchasing the airport property for more than $3.5 million, and spending $2.5 million on the terminal building. They also would assist the city in paying back grant money to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airport commission member Ulrich Salzgeber called the project visionary.

"It's complimentary to the resort and the resort atmosphere," he said.

Dellinger told the developers she does not think the council would decide about selling the airport at this point. She said the developers should hold off on approaching the council and should work with the committee to examine future uses for the airport.

-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

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