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Steamboat Magazine

But Can You Afford to Live Here?

02/09/2024 07:00AM ● By Ski Town Media
(Photo: Brown Ranch, on the west side of Steamboat Springs sits on a hillside overlooking downtown. Courtesy of Deb Olsen.)

Featured in Steamboat Magazine Ski Edition 2023-2024

Steamboat Springs, CO - In early November, voters approved the use of 75% of a tax on short-term housing rentals to fund the Brown Ranch workforce housing project on the west side of Steamboat Springs. 

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority purchased the ranch in 2021 for $24 million, using funds provided by an anonymous donor. The 534-acre parcel of land is adjacent to the city limits, inside the designated growth area. 

Essentially, no infrastructure is in place on Brown Ranch. The housing authority must find solutions for providing key elements such as water, sewer, roads and snowplowing before annexation could occur. 

The current plan is to create four distinct, local, workforce neighborhoods on the ranch. The first neighborhood would have approximately 480 units; ground is slated to be broken in 2026. 

Target date for completion of the full project is 2040, by which time it would comprise 2,264 homes, plus open space, trails, a school site, food market, daycare center, youth services and a community center. Only Routt County workers and retirees would be eligible to live on the ranch. The housing authority plans to use proceeds from the short-term lodging tax, plus numerous grants, to maintain affordability. 

The development has been contentious in the community, due in large part to the project’s density, cost and strain on resources. 

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