Steamboat Resort pitching metro district to help fund new transit center gondola
The metro district would include several resort-owned properties that will soon change hands to third-party developers.
Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. wants to form a metro district that would fund projects at the base of the ski area including a new gondola that would transport skiers to and from a redesigned Meadows Parking Lot.
The metro district concept has been brewing for months and has occasionally been mentioned during Steamboat Springs City Council meetings in recent weeks, though often with little details. Officials with Steamboat Resort will present the metro district concept to City Council on Tuesday.
“[Steamboat Resort] will complete its three-year redevelopment of the base area and mountain this year, but the public transit, arrival and pedestrian experience remains underwhelming,” officials with the resort write in their presentation to council, which is part of the packet for Tuesday’s meeting.
Concept drawings included with the packet show a redesigned gondola transit center that would no longer be a through street, more organized space for both public transit and private shuttles and the addition of a new gondola referred to as the Meadows Gondola.
This new gondola would move skiers and riders between the base area and a redesigned Meadows Parking Lot. Drawings included with the packet show a new parking structure at the Meadows Lot and the elimination of the current Upper Knoll Parking Lot to make way for a new development. The concept drawings also show the elimination of the current Steamboat Square Garage, which would be replaced by a large hotel or condo structure.
The presentation shows phase one of improvements would include the new Meadows Gondola, redesign of the gondola transit center and upgrades to the pedestrian experience at the base. The cost for phase one is estimated at about $26 million, with $16 million of that coming from the new metro district and another $10 million coming from the Mountain Urban Renewal Authority, an entity that collects property taxes to fund projects.
Future improvements identified in the presentation include a parking structure at the Meadows Lot, road improvements at various intersections and pedestrian upgrades.
The presentation says improvements that would be partially funded by the metro district will increase the quality of life at the base area, reduce traffic and congestion and improve the walkability and safety of the base for pedestrians. It also says the metro district would help build the capacity of the base to better manage future growth and “substantially reduce CO2 footprint.”
The timeline indicates the resort hopes to form the metro district this year and start projects included in the plan at the end of next ski season.
Steamboat Resort argues that the metro district would be timely because the Mountain URA is set to expire in 2029. Some county commissioners have suggested council should end the URA earlier, though it cannot end before 2027.
A map of the potential metro district says it will include resort-owned property at the base area, a parcel south of the Steamboat Grand, parcels that currently contain Gondola Square and Ski Time Square parking garages, a vacant parcel referred to as Thunderhead, the Upper and Lower Knoll lots, and the Meadows Lot.
The presentation says the resort is proposing this now in part because parcels included in the district that are currently owned by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. are changing hands to third-party developers.
“The ability to structure and from districts on all these parcels will diminish,” the presentation says.
City Council plays a role in forming a metro district and it would need to be approved by voters in the district, though it is unclear who would be included in that vote, as many of the parcels suggested to be in the district do not have residents. Once the district is created, it is its own form of municipal government.
Included in the presentation are results from public outreach, which shows general support for projects the district hopes to help fund. About 75% of respondents showed support for reconfiguring gondola transit center and about 71% supported adding a new gondola.
The metro district is part of council’s discussion topics for Tuesday’s meeting, which will allow for public comment, though council will not take a vote.