Yampa Valley Housing Authority makes offer to purchase Steamboat 700 land with $23M anonymous donation
The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is eagerly awaiting a response from Steamboat 700 LLC after it made an offer Thursday to purchase its 536-acre property west of Steamboat Springs, signaling a potential solution to the local housing crisis.
The housing authority’s board of directors met Thursday afternoon to authorize a purchase offer on Steamboat 700’s land through a $23 million donation from an anonymous benefactor. The land spans almost 1 square mile located north of U.S. Highway 40, between the Silver Spur neighborhood to the west and the West Acres neighborhood to the east.
“Given the dire housing situation in the Yampa Valley, YVHA is extremely grateful for this benefactor,” YVHA Board President Cole Hewitt said. “Should the offer be accepted by Steamboat 700, this donation will allow us to support and develop housing solutions in our community for years into the future.”
While the benefactor’s identity remains anonymous, Hewitt said they want Steamboat to keep its character and wishes to do something about it through this potential land purchase.
In an interview with Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty brokers Ren Martyn and David Baldinger Jr., who have a portion of the property listed for sale, just a day before the housing authority’s news was announced, they called the property “the golden key” to Steamboat’s housing future.
“What we’re feeling right now — this affordable crunch — is a supply crunch. Plain and simple,” Martyn said Wednesday. “There’s not enough housing, the focus being affordable housing, but there’s not enough housing right now to meet the demand.”
The property has been in the spotlight several times since 2007 when it was first acquired by Steamboat 700 LLC, eyed for future housing. Steamboat 700 originally purchased the land for $25 million, but voters in 2010 overwhelmingly rejected annexation of the property into city limits, which is necessary for infrastructure.
Most recently, in 2018, Boulder-based developer Brynn Grey Partners LTD struck an agreement with Steamboat 700 to create a master plan community on 190 acres of the total land. Following a public vote, the land was permitted to be annexed, but Brynn Grey failed to purchase the property within the city’s 45-day timeframe, and the deal fell through.
The difference between what Steamboat 700 and Brynn Grey were doing is if the housing authority secures the land, that cost is then taken out of the equation.
“That’s a game changer and we have to reevaluate everything,” Hewitt said. “It’s a very unique position. This benefactor wants to purchase the land but via the housing authority.”
Steamboat 700 could accept the housing authority’s offer, reject it or make a counteroffer, but any negotiations would be between the benefactor and Steamboat 700, not the housing authority, Hewitt explained. Should the purchase offer be accepted and the contract close, the housing authority would be the owner of the land, however.
If the deal moves forward, for the housing authority to actually own the property would be beneficial, Hewitt said. Specifically, the housing authority would have more say in how the land is developed and not be at the whim of a private developer that has to consider risk and profit margin.
“We get to approach the development in a different way that is more conducive to building affordable and attainable housing,” Hewitt said.
If the acquisition is successful, the next steps would be to develop a master plan specific to the site’s vast average. The housing authority would involve all community stakeholders, public and private, to determine what kind of housing is needed and what would best accommodate those needs.
“It’s unthinkable that this could have happened two weeks ago. The fact that we’re one step closer and we have an offer out to put the land under control of the housing authority and by extension the community is absolutely great news for the community,” Hewitt said. “We should all be very interested in the outcome and we should all wish for that to come to fruition.”
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