Partners seek OK for 14 starter townhomes

Steamboat Pilot

Curt Weiss wants to be ready when the economy in Steamboat Springs and the world recovers and households here are actively seeking to buy starter homes.

Weiss and the Weiss Family Partnership have entered the city planning process with a plan to demolish three older wooden frame buildings and replace them with 14 new townhomes. The four townhome buildings would be built on an acre of land sandwiched between two ponds and just steps from the Yampa River on the city’s south side.

“I can’t tell you when we will build them,” Weiss said. “But we want to have approvals in place to come out of the ground when there are buyers out there – people who are ready to move forward with their lives. In a perfect world, we’d begin building in March, but I can’t imagine that it would be next summer.”

The site is roughly behind (west of) South Side Station convenience store. Weiss presides over a neighborhood there that includes Walton Pond Apartments, a cluster of older residential buildings and a strand of mini-storage units.

He refers to the three buildings he plans to tear down as Bucci-buildings, harkening to a bygone Steamboat era when the Tugboat River Race launched every July from nearby Bucci Pond and Weiss had the honorary title, “The Mayor of Bucci-ville” conferred upon him, a reference to the original developer.

The three buildings tentatively slated for demolition are at 826, 830 and 836 Weiss Drive. City historic preservation coordinator Laureen Schaffer has determined that they do not require historic evaluation.

City Planner Seth Lorson said the Weiss property is “pretty tight” and the 19,600 square feet of new buildings put the project just a small amount over the allowable density under the city floor area ratio calculations.

He predicted that architect Ed Becker, of Mountain Architecture Design Group, could adjust the plans to make them conform.

Becker’s elevation drawings depict a mix of shed and flat roofs on the buildings with timber supports for decks overlooking the ponds.

In a memo to city planning, Walter Magill, of Four Points Surveying and Engineering, wrote that an existing internal asphalt road would be removed and a new road would be built to the east to accommodate the site plan.

Weiss confirmed that he has developed and manages 40 rental units in the area including Walton Pond Apartments, which house many ski area workers during the season. He recalls 1986, when eight new units at Walton Pond represented the only multifamily building permit for the year.

“We’ve provided a substantial amount of low-cost housing in the complex and within a free enterprise system,” he said.

Weiss added that it’s a source of frustration to him that even though he owns the land where he would build Weiss Townhomes II free and clear, the business model tells him it would not be profitable to hold them as rental housing.

“The cost (of developing the units) would not allow us to hold and rent them and make the return of 10 to 15 percent profit you’d like to have while recovering your investment,” he said.

Weiss attributed that condition to increases in a variety of costs, from city entitlements to building materials.