City Council approves agreement with Steamboat Resort to overhaul Gondola Transit Center
The $50 million deal leverages public money with funding generated by a series of newly formed metro districts.
Steamboat Springs City Council approved an agreement with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. on Tuesday that outlines the plan to overhaul Gondola Transit Center by leveraging $20 million in public funds with $30 million in revenues from a series of new metro districts on resort-owned property.
The agreement, called a Public Improvements Agreement is one of the key documents in the creation of the metro districts and outlines how the city and resort will partner to reimagine how people get to the base area.
Key to the new plan is a new high-speed gondola that would connect the Meadows Lot to the transit center. Most skier drop off would then be diverted there, with the transit center being limited to city transit vehicles and certain shuttle services.
Rob Perlman, President and COO of Steamboat Resort said the GTC has always been on the Mountain Urban Renewal Authority’s list of projects and it was a natural next step as the resort wraps up its more than $200 million Full Steam Ahead improvements.
“Now it’s time to look at the Gondola Transportation Center and put the capstone on this project and really the base area improvements,” Perlman said. “This was a way to take a bigger broader look at solving that Gondola Transportation Center and access to and from the mountain.”
The deal commits $20 million in funding from the URA toward overhauling the transit center itself and new roundabouts that are part of the project. The metro districts then pitch in $30 million for the new gondola and work at the Meadows Lot. But the deal also sees $13 million repaid to the city over time, a provision that is secured by a promissory note.
The metro districts are all on properties that are currently owned by the resort, though part of the haste to get the metro districts in place is that they are going to be sold soon. Still, some of the parcels will continue to be owned by the resort. The metro districts do not include non-resort-owned businesses in the base area.
“We’re the first contributor, our existing operations at the base,” Perlman said. “We’re already in our existing lines of business going to contribute an additional metro district tax increment to get it funded.”
The new gondola would be free to the public and would be open in the summer and winter seasons and the resort would operate a shuttle from Meadows to the base area if the gondola isn’t running.
Council voted 6-1 to approve the PIA, with several of them applauding city and resort staff for pulling an agreement together in a rather quick timeframe.
Council member Dakotah McGinlay said she opposed the new metro districts as it could make it harder to get voters to stomach a city-wide property tax in the future.
“I believe that we are shooting ourselves in the foot by having more and more metro districts in our community because I believe that a time will come when we will need to bring a property tax to the voters,” McGinlay said. “We’re saying some many different pieces of our community are going to be taxed separately, and then maybe one day we’ll all be taxed again. That really lessens our ability to pass and approve a property tax that could benefit the whole community in so many ways.”
The metro district proposal needs to be approved again on Sept. 5. The ballot question forming the districts only goes to owners in the proposed districts, which is just the resort.
Top Photo Caption: A rendering of what the new Gondola Transit Center could look like. (Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp./Courtesy)