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  • Dylan Anderson

Child care, housing project has steep price tag, but Routt County 'assured' funding is available

Early estimate for building with 10 early childhood education classrooms and 36 housing units is nearly $74 million.

Early estimates to build a child care facility that includes 36 housing units on the west side of Steamboat Springs are close to $74 million, but Routt County has been “assured” the project would receive significant funding support.

While conceptual designs are still in the works, the current framework for the project would include a child care center with 10 classrooms with 36, one-, two- and three-bedroom housing units on upper floors.

“We have been assured that there would be significant funding coming along through the (Colorado Office of Public Private Partnerships),” said Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan. “It is a fairly expensive price tag at this point. … I think there is some avenues to reduce some of those costs.”

The facility, which is described as still in the early stages, has come together through a partnership with the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Office of Public Private Partnerships. There is no construction timeline at this point, but conceptual designs and a full project budget are expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The site, which is just west of the Steamboat Springs Community Center, is owned by CDOT and at least some of the housing units in the building would be reserved for snowplow drivers, which have been hard to hire in high-cost mountain towns across the Western Slope. Some units would also be available for child care workers.

“It’s really, I think, the most exciting thing that I’ve done on council because we struggle to put together things,” said Steamboat Springs City Council member Joella West, who sits on the committee working on the project. “It’s going to be a model project, not just for this community, but for state and national for a number of reasons.”

The Public Private Partnerships Office, referred to casually as the P-three office, is working to apply for a grant from the U.S. Forest Service for the project, a grant that would require mass timber to be used to construct the building. This would pay for some initial engineering and design costs.

The city is also looking to pursue a housing grant that could be used for site work at the property, which is described as a difficult site as it slopes from U.S. Highway 40 down to the Yampa River. Another grant the city is pursuing would help study traffic at intersections on the west side of town, which would be important for Brown Ranch in addition to this project.

“The goal at this point is to keep the project moving forward while we pull together all the details to really get a good picture of it,” said Winnie DelliQuadri, the city’s special projects and intergovernmental services manager.

The $73.6 million estimate for the project includes a “substantial contingency” given various unknowns with the project at this point. Next steps include completing the conceptual design, developing a project timeline and continuing to pursue grant funding.

One grant being pursued by the city for project planning would require a $200,000 match. DelliQuadri said city staff intents to ask council to use revenue from the short-term rental tax as matching funds, which could be the first thing council would put any of that revenue toward.

While the early price tag for the project is high, Corrigan said the project is worth pursuing and doesn’t pose a significant risk to either entity this early in the process.

“I think these first steps that (DelliQuadri) has outlined are appropriate and at this point don’t really represent any significant risk,” Corrigan said. “I think they’re worth pursuing, let’s just see what’s next.”

Top Photo Caption: This parcel between U.S. Highway 40 and the Yampa River is owned by CDOT, and could eventually be home to a joint facility delivering child care and housing. (City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy)


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