EAGLE-VAIL — Head west from Vail, and before you reach the sprawl of Avon, you’ll find a quiet little business strip.
Most out-of-towners might not even take notice, and it’s easy to overlook the jumble of auto mechanics, bike shops and various offices. There’s even a dive shop thrown into the mix at the far east end of the street. However, the quarter-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 6 is a hub for important services that are difficult to find in the resort-oriented upper valley, local officials say.
Still, they admit that the strip, located in the unincorporated area of Eagle-Vail, could use a bit of a facelift. Eagle County is close to approving a new Eagle-Vail Master Plan, a document that will help guide development in the area over the next 20 years and maybe spur some upcoming projects that would give the industrial strip that much-needed facelift.
Sprucing up the street
The plan, written by Eagle County planners with the input of business and community members, includes the area between the Interstate 70 exit in Eagle-Vail on the west and the Kayak Crossing apartments on the east. The area is zoned for commercial and light industrial use, and planners are eyeing a spot currently leased by the Colorado Department of Transportation for future development. CDOT may soon vacate the space, leaving it open to a number of possibilities.
The land is owned by the State Land Board and by mandate must be used in a way that earns money for Colorado schools, said Cliff Simonton, Eagle County’s senior planner.
“They might keep the zoning the way it is, and it would become more shops or services like the ones that exist currently in Eagle-Vail,” said Simonton. The other option would be to change the zoning to allow other projects such as a residential development. That would require a public approval process.
While most business owners said the business district suited them well, most agreed that the area could look a little nicer. In a survey of residents and businesses in the district, 80 percent called the overall appearance of the area “not so good” or “poor.” Also, 53 percent thought the appearance of parking and storage areas was “not so good” or “poor,” and 86 percent thought the landscaping could improve.
“A lot of businesses depend on the delivery service they get and people being able to drive right up. That’s not going to change. However, there’s some low-hanging fruit that’s achievable in the short-term,” said Simonton.
That includes better landscaping, entry monuments, better signage and making the area more pedestrian- and- bike-friendly.
Most survey respondents said they’d support construction of crosswalks and/or sidewalks. In addition, ECO Trails is working on the approval of a project to connect the valley recreation path through the area. Simonton said that putting the power lines underground would also be a big improvement, adding that it would be expensive.
Tires, cars, hot tubs and more
Eagle-Vail’s business district has existed for nearly 40 years, and Simonton pointed out that the goal isn’t to turn the area into a shopping center.
“Eagle-Vail (business district) provides that particular mix of businesses at the eastern end of the valley. It’s hard to find that in Avon or Vail,” said Simonton. “We want to make sure the services remain there because they’re important.”
Michael Charles, who owns Maximum Comfort Pool and Spa in Eagle-Vail, said the location has worked well for his business since 1984.
“We’re centrally located in the valley,” he said. “We’re on the two main thoroughfares, Highway 6 and I-70, and we have high visibility. We get constant recognition for being here. It’s been a very good location, and I attribute a lot of our growth to that.”
Charles, who also represents the business district on the Eagle-Vail Joint Board of Governors, said that most of the business owners agree that they’d like to see something a little more attractive and that the master plan is a good way to provide blueprint for future development.
However, a few businesses aren’t finding the area a good fit for their businesses anymore. Scully’s Art Supply will be moving to Edwards, where owner Tim Scully said the shop would get more foot traffic.
“We’ve been here 25 years, but when we started, there was no Edwards and no internet. There’s not enough pedestrian traffic here for us,” he said.
P. Furniture and Design also just completed its move to Avon’s Annex Center,
“It’s just a better opportunity, and there’s not much retail here (in Eagle-Vail,)” said manager Kerri Lott. “In Avon we can reach different clientele, see more traffic and be around other retail stores.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com.