The goal of redeveloping the Yampa Street commercial district in downtown Steamboat Springs suddenly became more tangible Friday with the news that Yampa Valley Electric Association paid $2.025 million in cash for 70 acres of undeveloped land on the city’s west side.
The intent is to someday move the rural electric cooperative’s headquarters at 10th and Yampa streets and its equipment yard south of the Howelsen Ice Arena. The new site adjoins the Gloria Gossard Parkway just west of West Acres Mobile Home Park off Downhill Drive. The parcel of land was planned for more than 100 homes.
“We’ve been hunting ground for several years, but the board made it one of my priorities for this year,” YVEA General Manager Larry Covillo said Friday afternoon.
He added that it would be more than a year before YVEA would be ready to enter the city planning process with plans for a new building, and YVEA will not list its downtown real estate for sale before its plans to move are firm. In addition to its headquarters building, YVEA owns a large surface parking lot across 10th Street. The parking lot overlooks the Yampa River toward Howelsen Hill without any buildings impeding the views.
Covillo said the YVEA board was aware of the city of Steamboat Springs’ desire to foster the redevelopment of YVEA’s downtown headquarters.
“We were cognizant of that,” Covillo said. “It’s expensive to build a building and move everything. We at least have an option at this point.”
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs manager Tracy Barnett hailed YVEA’s purchase.
“This is a step in the right direction and it shows they understand not only the importance of it for them, but also know it will help the downtown,” Barnett said. “That’s two and a half blocks, with the fire department, of commercial real estate that can be redeveloped. We don’t expect for all of this to happen tomorrow, but the timing is good.”
A group of development experts from the Urban Land Institute is due here in July to assess the potential for energizing the commercial district area along the Yampa River.
YVEA’s purchase of the land that already had city approvals to become the Overlook Park residential subdivision was highly ironic for listing broker Norbert Turek of Elk River Realty. He was also the project manager for Overlook Park, first on behalf of original developer Jay Weinberg, and then Alpine Bank, which took it back from Weinberg through a deed in lieu of foreclosure in early 2011.
Turek praised Alpine Bank for sticking with the property by creating a holding company and funding the completion of city approvals for the subdivision, which the bank funded.
The irony is that Turek spent nine years obtaining the entitlements for the subdivision, which is no longer destined to become a residential development.
Covillo, who said YVEA was represented by Cam Boyd of Prudential Steamboat Realty in the transaction, added that the new location is close enough to downtown to be convenient for YVEA customers setting up accounts. But it’s also far enough on the edge of town to allow the utility to grow.
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