STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO — After spending a week in Steamboat Springs visiting Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) sites and interviewing over 100 community stakeholders, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Panel shared its preliminary findings at a presentation today. ULI was asked by YVHA to provide their expertise in the areas of reviewing the Brown Ranch Community Development Plan, funding concepts, strategy working with the private sector, as well as stewardship and governance. Over the past 75 years, ULI has worked on about 700 development plans throughout the United States. A final report will be available in six to eight weeks.
Molly McCabe, one of the ULI panelists, praised YVHA’s work on the Community Development Plan, “We are impressed with your vision and the work done so far. It is an ambitious multi-year project that meets a great need in the community. The problem of affordable housing evolved over 50 years and won’t be solved overnight. YVHA is a tremendous asset, and the Brown Ranch cannot happen without YVHA.”
Each of the panelists presented a section of the presentation to a live audience of about 50 people and another 45 people online. Some of the highlights from the presentation include:
- YVHA’s premier role should be as the “Vision Keeper” and champion of the intended outcome of the Plan.
- YVHA needs partners to implement the Plan, especially a fee-development partner who has community scale development experience and financial strength, and who will oversee the day-to-day oversight of the technical development process and project delivery.
- Implementation of the Plan includes building the capacity of the City, social services, and local businesses, as well as the capacity of YVHA.
- Annexation should happen quickly and needs to be equitable for both existing City residents and Brown Ranch residents.
- Developing Brown Ranch will demand a collective effort amongst the YVHA, City, County, State, and Federal entities, along with private partners to feasibly fund and finance.
- Exploring offsite modular construction could be a good solution to address the weather and labor challenges in Steamboat Springs and contribute to sustainability efforts.
- Consider a tiny home development on site for future construction labor force housing needs.
- Diversity of housing typologies in current Brown Ranch Plan is important to successful implementation. Density is your friend. Other tools to support health equity and affordability is increasing housing typologies to include:
- Cottage housing
- Flexible Housing Configurations
- Live/Work units
- Licensable Home Child Care Designs
- Long term affordability must be built into rental housing development agreements, monitored carefully, and enforced by YVHA over the long term.
- The affordability of the Plan needs to be expanded to include elderly, disabled and wage earners at lower income levels.
- The homeownership approach proposed by YVHA, which uses Community Affordability Agreements to assure long term affordability, is sound and balances the competing goals of sustaining affordability and wealth building.
- Determining the finance tools necessary to implement the Plan will be complex and have many contributors.
- At the end of the meeting, ULI identified some critical steps that need to be taken soon including annexation, electrical improvements, a pre-development budget, identifying critical partnerships and developing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a fee developer.
Anne Warhover, a member of the Brown Ranch Steering Committee, urged the panelists to include in their final report what Steamboat Springs will look like if the Brown Ranch is not built. Molly McCabe from the ULI panel said, “We will, but the simple answer is your authenticity and vibrancy will be gutted.”
At the end of the panel an audience member asked what the Brown Ranch will look like, and panelist Jay Bullock said, “The new community is going to look like the existing community, the Plan characterizes housing typologies of what you see in town now. It will look like Steamboat Springs.”
The ULI slide presentation can be found on the website at https://brownranchsteamboat.org/urban-land-institute-recommendations/