EAGLE, Colorado - Though in casual conversation some people have summed up Eagle River Station as simply the Target that may come to town, it's worth noting the project isn't all about shopping.
With 581 proposed condos, it would make up Eagle's second largest residential development. For comparison's sake, Eagle Ranch is the town's biggest neighborhood, with 850 homes built and 1,200 total homes planned.
The Eagle River Station condos are unique in that voters will decide their fate - along with that of Eagle River Station as a whole - during a Jan. 5 citizens' referendum, the first vote of its kind in Eagle's development history.
Several condo buildings would stand on the west end of the property, beyond where Chambers Avenue now ends, said Paul Witt, a spokesman for developer Trinity RED Eagle Development. The remaining condos would perch above a shopping center expected to house specialty stores, boutiques and restaurants, Witt said.
Some real estate brokers question whether demand exists for a large condo project in Eagle.
"I don't think there's going to be a demand for that for many years to come," said Rick Beveridge, owner of Beveridge Real Estate in Eagle and developer of Sawatch View Condominiums in Gypsum. "There may be some demand for rental units."
With the recession, some say Eagle already has a glut of houses on the market. Rick Messmer, a broker for Prudential Colorado Properties in Eagle, said there are already 56 multi-family homes (such as condos, townhouses and duplexes) for sale in Eagle alone, and if past sale trends hold true, it will take more than two years to sell them all.
"When Eagle River Station was first proposed, the economy was strong and the influx of people into Eagle County looking for attainable housing was great," he said. "Now, we've seen a major shift and we are overloaded with this exact opportunity, this multi-family opportunity in Eagle."
Yet developers say they are banking on the fact that the real estate market will turn around.
"Houses are still selling," Witt said. "There's definitely been a downturn in the market but as with anything else, it's cyclical. There is going to be an upswing at some point, and that's why not all 581 units are being built all at once. They'll be built in response to the market needs."
Messmer acknowledged that by the time developers would hope to start building the Eagle River Station condos in spring 2011, the market could pick up.
"I think we will see a shift in the market by the time that these guys get up and going," Messmer said, "but what I don't want to see is: I don't want a repeat of the town of Avon, and the Traer Creek development in that we've got this grand plan for this unique mixed use, very cool new community, and what we get is a box or two and nothing else."
Here are a few details of the Eagle River Station condos:
• Developers expect about 30 percent of the homes to be studios or one-bedroom condos; 47 percent to be two-bedroom condos and 23 percent to be three-bedroom condos, Witt said.
• Deed restricted condos would likely start under $200,000, said Mike Hans, development manager for RED Development. Free market condos are expected to range from just over $300,000 to $550,000, he said.
• Deed restrictions will apply to about 163 of the homes. The town of Eagle requires that 10 percent of the condos - or about 58 - carry town deed restrictions. Under those rules, buyers must live and work full-time in Eagle, town manger Willy Powell confirmed. Restrictions apply to the initial price of the homes, and the resale price can't rise by more than 3 percent each year, he said.
The developers have also volunteered to place deed restrictions on 20 percent of the remaining homes, or about 105 units, Hans said. Those homes will first be made available to those who work for Eagle River Station, followed by town employees and finally Eagle County employees. Restrictions will also apply to the sale and re-sale prices.
• Developers hope to begin the first phase of development in spring 2011, Hans said. Each phase would include about 150 to 175 homes, he said. The town of Eagle also requires that the first 50 homes be complete within six months of opening any commercial space. Hans expects construction of the condos to take about four to five years, although he said market demands will dictate the pace.
• The number of homes that will be sold versus leased is up to the developer. The exception is the homes that fall under town deed restrictions, which must be sold.
Staff writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.