Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Business Briefs

Getting better all the time: Accommodations tax benefits trails, Yampa Street

090613_Downtownreport2Great towns don’t grow on trees — a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to ensure public amenities are both prioritized and funded. In Steamboat, the roots of success are found in an innovative funding source known as the accommodations tax, whereby 1 percent of the city’s accommodations tax gets appropriated to fund improvements that will attract visitors and benefit residents. Already responsible for building the Strings Music Pavilion, Tennis Center of Steamboat Springs and Haymaker Golf Course, the tax now benefits Steamboat’s growing network of hiking and biking trails, as well as ongoing revitalization efforts to spruce up Yampa Street downtown.

The two projects were recently voted by taxpayers to receive an estimated $6 million in tax proceeds over the next 10 years, or $600,000 per year.

“It’s helped develop amenities that enhance Steamboat Springs as a well-rounded community,” says Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Jim Clark. “From building Haymaker Golf Course to the next 10 years’ worth of trail developments, it continues to support projects that add to Steamboat’s appeal as a place to visit, live and work.”

In this next round of funding, local trail-building efforts for biking and hiking will get the lion’s share, receiving $5 million over the next 10 years. Yampa Street revitalization efforts will receive $900,000 over the next three years, with improvement plans including everything from creating additional public parks to building a 16- to 24-foot-wide walkway along the river side of Yampa Street.

On the trail side, the funds will be used by the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance to further expand biking and hiking trails around town. Funds have already been used to build the new four-mile-long Morning Gloria Trail accessing Emerald Mountain, and there are plans to open new public access to the Yampa River near the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area and build additional trails on Emerald Mountain and more. “Building trails is a great use of the funds,” says the city’s planning director Tyler Gibbs. “Few downtowns have parks like Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain adjacent to them, and it’s great to have the opportunity to improve them even more.”

Leveraging the proceeds with grants from such entities as Great Outdoors Colorado, the Trails Alliance ultimately is proposing to build and improve 46 multi-use trails and connectors in the city and adjacent lands. “The projects will benefit everyone who comes to Steamboat,” says local trail builder Aryeh Copa.

Retail renaissance: Downtown in midst of major makeover

businessCall it a retail and restaurant revival. That describes the scene in downtown Steamboat Springs, which is enjoying a surge of new energy. “Downtown is experiencing a huge rejuvenation, from the Saturday Farmers Market to new restaurants and retail operations,” says Lisa Popovich, program manager for MainStreet Steamboat Springs. “It’s becoming pretty vibrant.” The Steamboat Springs City Council recently pulled the trigger on the biggest investment in the downtown corridor in years, approving a package to construct new sidewalks, public restrooms and other infrastructure by the end of 2018. The $10.3 million improvement package will be funded with a combination of grants, sidewalk assessments, franchise fees, certificates of participation and reserves from the city’s general fund.

In 2014, voters also approved spending $900,000 in lodging tax dollars for other improvements to Yampa Street, including converting an old homesite at Sixth and Yampa streets into a new riverside park. “It’s a three-year-long project to improve downtown,” adds Popovich. “It includes important, not-so-sexy things like curbs and sewer improvements but also such things as lighting improvements, redesigning the banners lining Lincoln Avenue, a return to spurs vs. snowflakes for the holiday season and a revamped flower program for spring.” Business is also blossoming, from a revitalized Yampa Street with more than 10 dining establishments and bars to new retailers and restaurants along Lincoln Avenue.

“Our storefronts are filling up,” Popovich adds. “Vacancies are down, and three new restaurants and six new stores have opened this summer alone.” Adding to the recent openings of E3 Chophouse, Sake2U and Aurum along Yampa Street, Low Country Kitchen, which was recently featured in the New York Times, is expanding into the space next door. In Celebration of Kids has opened shop in the former Franklin Mall, and Ciao Gelato has found a new home next to the Smokehouse. With the Yampa River, rodeo grounds and Howelsen Hill all nearby, Popovich adds that summertime foot traffic is also booming, with new business directories recently installed on the bus shelters to help people find their way around.

“It’s certainly an exciting time to visit downtown Steamboat,” Popovich says. “It’s come a long way in a short time.”

Former YVEA headquarters sprucing up downtown

Ushering in a new era for downtown, the Yampa Valley Electric Association’s former headquarters at 910 Yampa St. is being re-developed by Blue Sage Ventures, which plans to repurpose it into a mix of retail, residential and commercial spaces. The renovation will bring renewed energy to Yampa’s west end, joining the already robust retail and restaurant environment on its east end.

“Our vision is adaptive reuse,” says principal Steve Shelesky. “The entire street is an asset to downtown, and this building will be a part of that story. It’s going to be well suited to meet the needs of the local business community.” The two-phase project will begin in fall 2015, first converting the building’s former garage bays into street level retail/restaurant space. Phase two will add three top-floor residences while preserving the aesthetic created by original architect Eugene Sternberg. In all, the project will comprise 10,642 square feet of commercial space on the first level facing Yampa Street, another 15,779 square feet of office space on the second level and residences on the third floor. Plans also call for a plaza facing Yampa, a 16-space parking lot and streetscape improvements.

Main Street Steamboat Springs gets new director

Main Street Steamboat Springs, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven membership organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and enhance downtown Steamboat Springs, is now under the directorship of Lisa Popovich, who recently took over from longtime president Tracy Barnett.

“I’m excited to build upon everything Tracy accomplished,” she says. “Downtown, from Third to 13th streets and from the Yampa River to Oak Street, is truly a vibrant part of the community and where our history lies. It has a great mix of shops, restaurants, art galleries, spas, museums, public spaces and more. Plus, it’s home to Howelsen Hill, home of the oldest ski area in Colorado, a rodeo arena, an Olympic-sized indoor skating rink, an alpine slide and acres of biking, hiking and cross country skiing trails, all within easy walking distance. It’s hard to script anything better.” Info: www.mainstreetsteamboat.com

Third time’s a charm: Steamboat hosts USA Pro Challenge in 2015

Prochallenge-ScottFor the third time in the event’s five-year history, the USA Pro Challenge chose Steamboat Springs as part of its route, bringing the world’s top bicycling teams to the Yampa Valley in August and exposing the town’s award-winning attributes to millions of spectators and television viewers. Hosting two stages — the overall start and Stage II, which took riders over Rabbit Ears Pass to Arapahoe Basin — Steamboat rolled out the red carpet for the event. It also put the 16 teams and their support staff up in local accommodations a week beforehand, all while extending its genuine Western hospitality to everyone associated with the event. In all, the seven-day tour took riders 605 miles encompassing 42,000 feet of climbing across Colorado. “Bringing the overall start to Steamboat was great for the whole town,” says local organizing committee co-chair Jim Schneider. “To have the teams training here, the international press covering it, and announcers Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett here calling the shots made it exceed all our expectations. It was as exciting an event as the town has ever experienced.” Steamboat also cashed in on the exposure that comes with the Pro Challenge, billed as the largest spectator event in Colorado, with more than 9 million people watching the race on television and getting an upclose glimpse of the Yampa Valley — made all the more special by Colorado-bred Taylor Phinney winning the opening stage downtown. “It certainly was a great event, with all the right ingredients,” adds Schneider. “It let live spectators and those watching it on TV all experience everything we have to offer, from our natural beauty to genuine friendliness.”

Bike Town USA

Steamboat Springs’ bicycling momentum is rolling strong.

raceseriesVoters recently approved more than $5 million in lodging tax proceeds to build more trails, town recently won a $33,000 grant from Bell Helmets to build the Bear River Bike Park, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association chose Steamboat to host its 2014 World Summit for the event’s first stop in Colorado.

Add to this a world-class bike path, miles of trail improvements, ride to work and school initiatives, new BMX, pump and freeride options, a local race series, two bike manufacturers, new downhill rides at the ski resort, events like the Tour de Steamboat, Steamboat Stinger and revamped Endro-X Series, and it’s easy to see why there’s so much hoopla about this bicycling hamlet.

It’s enough that the League of American Bicyclists recently awarded Steamboat its Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation, and IMBA labeled it a Bronze Level Riding Center, one of only 17 such designations in the world.

“Biking help makes Steamboat a year-round destination,” says Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern, whose organization has hosted several national bike media events in town over the past few years. “It’s an integral part of our community, just like skiing.”

The movement has hosted two nationally recognized Bike Summit meetings, produces the annual Steamboat Springs Bike Guide, and has three times attracted the USA Pro Challenge to town, most recently in 2015. But it’s the town’s riding options that comprise the backbone of this biking movement.

“People are coming here from around the country just to go biking,” Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare owner Harry Martin says. “That’s the main reason it’s getting so much attention. There are just a ton of different options you can do right from town.” Adds Honey Stinger founder Bill Gamber, also an avid rider: “There aren’t many communities this passionate about riding.”

From the town’s lineup of annual bike events to a world-class bike path to marquee bike manufacturers Kent Eriksen Cycles and Moots calling Steamboat home, riding bikes is on everyone’s radar.

“Steamboat’s access to riding is pretty unique, from Emerald Mountain downtown to its road loops and freeride trails,” Moots Marketing Director Jon Cariveau says. “It has all the right ingredients.”

Mix those together with a passionate cycling community and Steamboat is the ideal place to pedal, whether it’s on skinny tires or those for the trail. Info: www.steamboatbiketown.com.

“Most Veterans Friendly Little City in Colorado”

If you’re a veteran, Steamboat Springs is a great place to hang your hat. As awarded by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Steamboat Springs was recently named the “Most Veterans Friendly Little City in Colorado.”

Veterans“It’s a great honor that the city deserves,” says Jim Stanko, ESGR area chairman. “It recognizes all of the veterans in the Steamboat area and throughout Routt County. We have a tremendous tradition here that a lot of people don’t realize.”

Stanko says there are nearly 40 businesses owned by veterans in Steamboat, and that major employers also make an effort to hire them. The award, he adds, will make more people aware of the contributions local veterans have made to “make this valley the place we all love and want to live in.”

Generations of Routt County veterans, he adds — like Crosby Perry-Smith, 91, who served in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII and fought in Italy — became community and business leaders after they returned from duty. “It’s not any one big thing why Steamboat got the award,” says ESGR state chairman Dick Young.”It’s really the attitude of a lot people year round. They do good things, which is pretty important to veterans.”

Stanko says Steamboat got the award for several reasons, from Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports’ work for Wounded Warriors and other veterans with disabilities to a local hotel that gives free rooms to military families on Veteran’s Day. There are also reunions for 10th Mountain Division veterans, a special display at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, a veteran-owned business program sponsored by the Chamber and fundraising efforts veterans host to support other veterans.

“The city truly deserves it,” Stanko says. “It will help people realize there are a lot of veterans who grew up in Steamboat, or who have moved here, who have done great things to help the community. They’re all involved in some kind of activity, club or organization.”

Olympians at home

Add this into your factoid list about Steamboat — the Yampa Valley and its 100-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club is home to more Olympians than any other town in the country. Move here and there’s a good chance your neighbor might have competed on the world’s biggest athletic stage.

Steamboat local Johnny Spillane with on of the three silver medals he won in the 2010 Olympics

Steamboat local Johnny Spillane with on of the three silver medals he won in the 2010 Olympics

From John Steele becoming the town’s first Olympian in 1932 in Lake Placid to local Nordic combined skiers winning seven medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 14 locals competing in Sochi, Steamboat has ties to 88 Olympic athletes, with more than 151 Olympic appearances between them. You’re as likely to brush elbows with them in the grocery store as the gondola line. “The Olympic tradition here is hard to rival,” says retired Nordic combined skier Johnny Spillane, who brought home three silver medals in 2010. “The town has created an atmosphere that breeds Olympic-quality competitors. Some towns nurture baseball or football but Steamboat nurtures Olympians.” Including those born and raised here to those who trained at the club, it’s a substantial list for a small mountain town of 12,000. “Our list is pretty comprehensive and inclusive,” says Tread of Pioneers Museum Executive Director Candice Bannister. “And we keep adding to it all the time.” The town’s Olympians cover the spectrum of winter sports, from Nordic and Alpine racing to freestyle skiing and snowboarding. They include everyone from Steamboat Ski Area Director of Skiing Billy Kidd, who won the U.S. men’s first skiing Olympic Medal in 1964, to coach Deb Armstrong, who won the giant slalom gold in 1984. “Steamboat has produced more Olympians than any other town in North America,” says SSWSC Executive Director Jim Boyne, whose club employs nine Olympians. “It’s a byproduct of how our community embraces and develops youth — we create champions on and off the mountain. That nurturing and bond is what truly sets our town apart.”

Steamboat Ski Area: More night skiing, new lodge and more

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Recently celebrating its 50th anniversary, Steamboat Ski Area continues to better its on-mountain experience for guests, from new trails and base area enhancements to mountainside eateries, grooming, snow making and more.

Topping this year’s improvements list, under the first year of new President Rob Perlman, is the addition of RFID (radio-frequency identification) ticket technology. All lift tickets and season passes will be available on QuickTraxTM cards, embedded with an RFID chip for hands-free, gate-operated lift access.

“It will move guests faster and more efficiently, allowing more time for carving up Steamboat’s Champagne powder,” says Intrawest’s Matt Bowers.

Other improvements include expanded air service (see Transportation); the tripling in size of Gondola Joes at the base area; a renovation of Rendezvous Lodge; new Bison X and Leitwolf grooming machines (the fleet now grooms more than 600 acres nightly); and enhanced snowmaking equipment. Also new is the building of the Steamboat Spring Winter Sports Club Alpine training venue, a dedicated race run on the front of the mountain for club members to train day and night.

All this comes on top of such other recent improvements as the new 13,000-square-foot Four Points lodge, a redesign of Red’s Bar in Thunderhead Lodge, the expansion of night skiing to Thursday through Monday and a new promenade, creekside amphitheater and concert stage at the base area. The resort also recently debuted the online reservation service OpenTable for its restaurants, and upgraded its Mountain Cam network for real-time mountain conditions.

Summer resort improvements

Locals and visitors enjoy the new base area  — courtesy photo

Locals and visitors enjoy the new base area — courtesy photo

Continuing its mountain biking improvements, the Steamboat Bike Park unveiled two new trails this season, including a beginner trail called Tenderfoot and an expert jump trail named Flying Diamond, with even more trails in the works. “It’s really taken off and people are loving it,” says Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane, also toting the success of the resort’s free Steamboat Mountain Music Series. Celebrating its 50th anniversary just last year, Steamboat Ski Area continues to better its on-mountain experience for guests, from new bike trails and base area enhancements to mountainside eateries and grooming.

Rodeo a Steamboat Tradition

Hang your cowboy hat in Steamboat Springs, and you’ll find that the local Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series is as much a part of the community as the ski slopes of Mount Werner. Steamboat was a ranching town way before it ever became a world class ski resort, and those roots show through every summer in the weekly Pro Rodeo series — an event sanctioned by the PRCA that draws the country’s best riders, ropers, clowns, bullfighters and specialty acts to downtown.

Photo by  David and Zan  Blundell / Lovethecamera.com

Photo by David and Zan Blundell / Lovethecamera.com

While sometimes the two disciplines overlap — like when horses pull kids on skis down main street in the annual Winter Carnival, or when the annual Cowboy Downhill draws the world’s top cowboys to town to ski — the town’s ranching and rodeo heritage gives it its genuine western charm. And that heritage is celebrated every summer weekend at the rodeo series in Romick Arena, a five-time winner of the Mountain States Circuit — Best Small Rodeo of the Year award and a former recipient of the Best Small Outdoor Rodeo in America award. In 2015, contestants competed for more than $250,000 during the 10-week series, as well as coveted points to earn a berth at the National Finals in Las Vegas.

“We have more annual pro rodeos that any other community in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah or New Mexico,” says rodeo chairman Brent Romick. “That says a lot about what it means to Steamboat Springs.”

This year, the rodeo committee rolled out a new website and marketing campaign that increased ticket sales nearly 20 percent, and it’s also moving ahead with plans to upgrade the current rodeo grounds into a multi-use facility for different community uses, including the addition of a multi-purpose plaza, amphitheater, vendor and kids play area, improvements to the pens and chutes, better spectator seating and more.

“It’s truly what helps make Steamboat so unique,” Romick adds. “There aren’t many towns with this authentic of a rodeo background.”

World champion, Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane buys Steamboat Flyfisher

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What would you do if you retired from Nordic combined skiing with a world champion crown and three Olympic silver medals, and loved Steamboat Springs and fly-fishing?

If you’re local legend Johnny Spillane, you buy a fly-fishing shop. In late 2013, Spillane, a longtime fishing guide, purchased Steamboat Flyfisher at 35 Fifth St. in downtown Steamboat, ensuring a life of fishing and raising his family in Steamboat., including daughters Genevieve and Hadley.

“Aside from skiing, fly-fishing was my other big passion,” says Spillane, who grew up going to Steamboat Flyfisher and later guiding for the outfitter. Spillane says there are a lot of parallels between professional athletics and business: both are competitive, with principles that guide success. “I know what it takes to be successful,” he says.

Spillane plans to reach out to destination travelers and expand his outfitting service to include hunting, all while keeping the store’s focus on the guiding and retail side of fly-fishing. Another focus will be on getting more newcomers involved, by hosting clinics, demos and other beginner programs. He also plans to use the company to spread the word about the attributes of Yampa River just a stone’s throw from his store.

“Steamboat’s a great town, and the river is a big part of that,” he says.

YVEA Purchases TIC Building for $9.7 million

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.53.03 PMMarking the sale of the single largest industrial-zoned piece of property in the Rocky Mountains, in July, the Yampa Valley Electric Association completed its purchase of the 15-acre, 47,000-square-foot TIC campus at the corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road for $9.7 million. TIC has moved most of its employees out of Steamboat to consolidate operations on the Front Range.

“To have a business like YVEA located there will go a long way in stabilizing the area,” Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern says. “It will become an impetus for what happens next there.”

The purchase expedites the timeline for YVEA’s move from its current 58-year-old headquarters downtown on Yampa Street and into a roomier headquarters.

“We see this as a place we can grow in,” says YVEA president Diane Johnson, adding that they might lease some of the office space to others. “This was clearly our preferred alternative.”

YVEA’s departure from downtown also makes way for redevelopment opportunities there. Its downtown headquarters were recently put under contract with developer Blue Sage Ventures, which plans to repurpose the building into a mix of retail, residential and commercial spaces.

“Our vision is adaptive reuse,” says principal Steve Shelesky, adding that it should be an up to 55,000-square-foot project. “The entire street is an asset to downtown, and this building will be a part of that story. It will be an anchor at this end of downtown.” “It was a modern building, so we’re going to stick with modern industrial architecture,” he adds. “It’s going to be unique and well suited to meet the needs of the local business community.”

Beer breweries

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.57.27 PMIf you base a town’s status on its breweries, Steamboat is in good standing, with Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, Butcherknife Brewing Co. and Storm Peak Brewing Co. all calling the Yampa Valley home. Below are the two most recent additions to the local brewing scene.

Of water and wort: Butcherknife Brewing Co.

Butcherknife Brewing Co. founders Mark Fitzgerald and Nathan Johansing began serving small home-brewed batches of beer in 2011, donating a large percentage to local charities and fundraisers. Now they’ve opened up full time in a 4,000-square-foot brewery with a tap room — complete with large tasting room and two garage doors opening to a patio — at 2875 Elk River Rd.

“Right now the brewery produces 60 kegs every 20 days.” Fitzgerald said, adding that its beer can be found in such local establishments as Carl’s Tavern and The Tap House Sports Grill. “But the majority of our beer is sold through bottles and cans.”

The brewery prides itself on its recipes, attention to detail and good ol’ Steamboat water.

“It’s the best water in Colorado,” Fitzgerald said. “Our location provides us first use off the Continental Divide, which means pure, clean water goes into the heart of every batch.”

It also helps to have Johansing on board, who earned his master’s degree in brewing from the Siebel Institute of Technology and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany.

“We’re thrilled to finally deliver our beer to Steamboat,” Fitzgerald said, adding that they plan to deliver more than 1,000 barrels in its first year of operation.

Brotherly beer: Storm Peak Brewing Co.

Steamboat’s newest brewery is Storm Peak Brewing Co. at 1744 Lincoln Ave. just west of town. Founded by Colorado natives and brothers Wyatt and Tyler Patterson, the seven-barrel, three-employee brewhouse had its grand opening Aug. 2, 2014, to rave reviews.

Brewed in a 2,000-square-foot facility with tap room and bar up front, its beers explore a range of styles from light, crisp Golden Ale to darker Black Ale and a range of seasonal styles in between.

“We’re focused on tap room sales and creating an atmosphere where people can come enjoy our product and spend some time with us,” said Wyatt, whose second brother, Zach, and father, Erik, also are partners in the business. “Our equipment is all in the open so people can see the raw materials and machinery in action.”

So far, patrons enjoying the fruits of its tap room have kept any larger-scale distribution plans on hold. The company is selling every drop it makes before it even leaves the premises.

“Our plan is to grow organically,” said Wyatt, who has brewed beer with his brother for years. “Eventually we’ll start distributing, but for now it’s hard enough just keeping enough on hand in the tap room. But we’re proud to call Steamboat home and we love sharing our passion for beer with as many people as possible.”

PowerICE Receives Job Growth Tax Credit

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.53.54 PMThe state, and a local energy food company, is helping Steamboat create more jobs. PowerICE, a local manufacturer of frozen, electrolyte-replenishing hydration bars, recently was awarded a $515,901 tax credit from Colorado’s Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit program for undertaking job creation projects that grow small business in Colorado.

“We’re committed to building our business in Colorado,” PowerICE President Grant Fenton says. “This incentive program will allow us to hire Colorado residents and contribute to the state’s economic growth as PowerICE expands. It’s great that the governor’s office supports small business development in rural and entrepreneurial communities like Steamboat.”

Administered by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the credit provides a state income tax credit to businesses undertaking job creation projects that would not occur otherwise. To qualify, the new jobs must have an average yearly wage of 110 percent of the county average wage, which is $54,411 in Routt County. The company has been approved for the creation of 100 new jobs throughout five years.

“PowerICE is a great example of the emerging outdoor recreation manufacturing cluster in Steamboat,” Gov. John Hickenlooper says. “We’re thrilled they have chosen to expand in this part of the state.”

Last year, PowerICE re-launched in Colorado and elsewhere, attending numerous sport tournaments and athletic events. In 2014, it re-formulated to become all-natural and expanded its growth into the health care and grocery categories — all of which is good news for town.

“One of our community’s economic development objectives is to diversify our economic base,” Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern says. “Having a company like PowerICE here goes a long way toward meeting that objective. These are exactly the type of professional jobs we like to increase in our community.”

TALON Grips

While Steamboat’s entrepreneurial spirit is exploding, one company is setting its sights on products built for combustion. TALON Grips targets law enforcement officers and other gun users desiring enhanced grip for their firearms. President Mike Morris runs the company with his wife, Gillian, progressing from a basement operation in 2012 to now having five employees with 75 U.S. retailers and three international distributors. Offering 126 gun model grips in two textures, business is, well, booming. “We never could have imagined it would grow so quickly,” says Morris, whose company is expanding into iPhone grips, as well. “Steamboat’s a great place to be based. We’d rather live in the mountains and visit the city, and have a few hours of outdoor recreation every day, than live in the city and use our vacation to do these things. The mountain lifestyle and community are hard to beat.”