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January 12, 2013
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New condo building coming to Avon?

AVON - Charles Frey's restaurant has a great view of Beaver Creek. But he'll happily trade the view for the pedestrian traffic that would come from a new 58-unit condo building.

Frey's restaurant, Ticino, is on the south side of the Avon Center building. Besides the mountain, diners can also look straight out the windows to one of Avon's trickiest building sites, "Lot 61." The site is relatively small - just one acre - but seems to be big enough for a five-story building that would ultimately be part of Wyndham Worldwide's "Vacation Ownership" program.

Wyndham Corporate Communications Manager Michele Pinnau wrote in an email that the company is "always looking for opportunities to grow our brand in the most desired vacation destinations ... "

That ownership group is a big one, too, with more than 915,000 members.

If Wyndham's plan for the lot comes to pass, the company will open the facility in November of 2014, just in time for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships.

Developer Robert Ballard first brought the idea to town officials in 2011, and some discussions took place. Firm plans came to the town's building department in November of last year.

That plan will go to the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, and the Avon Town Council is scheduled for first reading of an ordinance on the project at its Feb. 12 meeting. Among other things, the ordinance would re-zone the property - that is, redefine allowable uses.

Town planner Jared Barnes said the re-zoning will better fit the town's most recent comprehensive plan for the area. And town officials are generally in favor of developing the property, Barnes said.

So is Frey.

"I love the idea," he said. "That gives me 58 more units right across the street."

Mike Brown is president of the Alpine Bank branch in Avon, also just a stone's throw from the proposed Wyndham site.

"As a business in this part of Avon, it's nice to see development on Lot 61," Brown said. "Our main consideration as a business close to it is to make sure our existing parking is protected."

That seems to be the case, since the proposal also includes underground parking for the property. That's going to be virtually essential, since there isn't much room to work with on the surface.

There also isn't going to be any place to put a "back door" for the property.

Barnes noted Lot 61 essentially faces four ways - toward The Seasons building, toward Avon Center, toward Lettuce Shed Lane, a pedestrian walkway, and, of course, Benchmark Road. But the current drawings of the buildings seem to accommodate the need for, in essence, four front doors.

The Wyndham project will also be right in the middle of what Avon hopes will become the town's center, with plenty of places to walk or bike and the ability to catch buses to or from just about any place in the valley.

Avon-based land planner Dominic Mauriello is Wyndham's local representative. Company policy doesn't allow him to talk specifically about the project, but as someone who's been involved in development in the valley, Mauriello said a new lodging property in the area will be a way to help revitalize that part of town.

"It can start to bring bodies there," Mauriello said. "It brings guests walking around and gets people on vacation into the downtown core area."

But there are also enough existing businesses now to keep guests on the west side of Avon Road, which can be a bit of a gauntlet for pedestrians. The new Walgreen's store puts basic goods within walking distance of almost all the town's lodging, and a new condo property will mean that many more people will be in the area.

Brown said he's excited to see new building in town, starting with the Walgreen's store. But the Wyndham property, if approved, will be the biggest construction project in town since the Westin Riverfront project, which was finished in 2007.

"It's good to see the economy is recovering," Brown said. "It's good to see things starting to pop up."

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Jan 12, 2013 09:17PM Published Jan 12, 2013 09:15PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.