VAIL — The eastern half of Timber Ridge is now Lion’s Ridge, and 113 new apartments will be built there.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday approved the details of a ground lease with the project developers, Gary Gorman and longtime Vail resident Jen Wright.
The project will build 113 new apartments on roughly 5 acres of the Timber Ridge property, which has been owned by the town for about a decade. The town is putting about $1.3 million into renovating the apartments on the western half of the property, and those will be open to renters this year.
Town officials and developers first agreed to a deal in November of 2013, but Gorman and Wright earlier this year asked to modify the terms of the original deal. In a July interview, Wright said he and Gorman had hit hurdles in getting the project financed due to the original 35-year lease on the property and asked instead for a 50-year lease. Lenders all asked for a longer lease term, Wright said.
Must Be Employee Housing
Deal modifications also included the option for the developers to buy the property for $5 million, about half the price the town paid a decade ago. That purchase option must be exercised within the first 10 years of the deal. If the developers don’t buy the land, then they’ll make lease payments to the town.
Whatever option the developers choose, the land is contractually bound for employee housing. At least 70 percent of all units must be occupied by people working at least 30 hours per week in Eagle County.
Opponents of the deal said the town was giving up too much with the sale option. Supporters said governments routinely provide low-cost, or no-cost, land to developers for housing and other projects. Eagle County is providing the land to developers of a senior housing center in Eagle.
Council members Margaret Rogers and Dale Bugby voted against the deal at an Aug. 19 meeting. Both continued their opposition Tuesday.
Bugby said Tuesday that the deal has “gone backwards” for the town in the months since it was first approved last year. Rogers said the rest of the council might be suffering “Timber Ridge fatigue” in accepting the deal before them.
As Good As It Gets
But council member Greg Moffet, who was on the council when the town purchased the apartments, said that council never intended for the town to keep the Timber Ridge property. He called the deal with the developers “as good as we’re going to get.”
Mayor Pro Tem Ludwig Kurz, running the meeting in Mayor Andy Daly’s absence, agreed with Moffet. So did council members Dave Chapin and Jenn Bruno, approving the deal by a 4-2 vote.
Work on the new apartments will start this fall. The first tenants are expected to move in by the end of 2015.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.