Profile of an area developer in a new age
East Coast man invests in Craig property
Craig — Maurits de Blank first rode through Craig in June 2005 and wanted to turn back for the greener pastures of Steamboat Springs or even Hayden. He changed his mind.
De Blank predicted a few years ago, too early but correctly, the housing market in Miami would bust. Having spent the bulk of his adult life developing real estate on the east coast, he decided, on a whim, to go west.
A friend of his, also a real estate developer, visited Steam-boat on vacation and, looking at the housing market there, he believed the boom would extend west through the valley.
Real estate prices there still were relatively low, the market in Steamboat had exploded and the two might be able to buy low and sell high in the valley.
But the first time through, de Blank balked.
“Why in the hell am I here?” de Blank said.
He wasn’t interested. He wanted to turn around.
“We got to Craig, it was a June day, hot as hell and dusty as everything,” de Blank said. “To be honest, I wasn’t interested at all except for the (economics) of the county.”
It was a far cry from Miami, but the market looked promising.
Steamboat had grown to the size that some service industry employees working there already lived in Craig, and there was even a bus service established for their commute. Wal-Mart was building a new store, which illustrated not only had bigger businesses become interested in the area, but also they thought they could make long-term profits.
De Blank did as well. He bought Alpine Condos at 410 Tucker St. on Oct. 3, 2005, initially for the cash flow provided by a rental property. He recently has converted some units to occupant-owned condos, but has not had much success.
“When people in Hayden and Craig think of buying property, they still think about” spread-out homes, de Blank said. “People in Steamboat say they would love to buy a condo if they could afford it. I just misjudged the market.”
The market is growing more in the tradition of Steamboat everyday. Local government is embroiled in discussion with Craig Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Part-nership and Moffat County Tourism Association about how to market the city and the county nationwide, and commonly reference Steamboat’s “Ski Town USA” campaign.
While those groups plan broad strategies, private developers continue developing, and that’s the way most in those groups think it should be.
“He’s a good example of someone new coming to Craig for the opportunity,” Chamber Executive Director Christina Currie said.
De Blank is not keeping Craig a secret. He recently invited another developer to the area to see for himself.
“Given the same economics I looked at, only fast forward 18 months and it’s more obvious. (That developer) is looking at some things” in Craig, de Blank said.
He was even more pleased the city had improved itself, not just relied on its promise alone.
“It just looks better,” de Blank said. “The town is on an upswing. Just the fact that the streets have yellow paint on the curbs that wasn’t done 10 years ago is great. I took (the other developer) to look at a building that before had been not so nice, but now it looked respectable.”
De Blank remains sure Craig’s future is bright. He sees the three-step dance of tourism, natural resources and big businesses is attracting suitors; Craig just needs to prepare for the ball.
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or email@example.com
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