VAIL — Construction work is getting back to normal in Vail. That means the town’s skyline isn’t dominated by cranes, and construction companies are relatively busy.
With the hotels and other big projects of Vail’s decade-long “renaissance” now finished for a few years, R.A. Nelson and Associates is doing the town’s biggest project this summer — an exterior renovation of the Simba Run condos.
That continues a run of projects R.A. Nelson has taken on since the valley’s construction bubble burst, including work on the Eagle-Vail swimming pool and the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District fieldhouse in Edwards. The company classifies that work — including the Simba Run project and a future project at Northwoods, near Golden Peak — as “commercial.” But company representative Brent Reimel said R.A. Nelson is more excited about work coming into different divisions of the company, from remodeling and renovations to custom homes.
“Our custom home division is extra busy right now,” Reimel said. In all the company is working on six custom homes between Vail and Aspen, with four in the Vail Valley. Custom homes can be profit centers for construction companies, so builders are happy to see that business return.
In Vail, there seems to be quite a lot of work going on, even if it isn’t see-it-from-the-interstate obvious.
Martin Haeberle, the chief building official for the town of Vail, said the town has processed 373 building permits so far this year. That includes projects ranging from new decks to additions to luxury homes.
“People are doing a lot of homes this year,” Haeberle said. “Those are on new lots as well as scrape-and-rebuild projects.”
Beyond current construction, Haeberle said projects are coming into his office. The biggest of those is from Marriott Residences, which will replace the old Roost Lodge in West Vail.
“Next year’s looking really positive,” Haeberle said.
Haeberle said building activity — at least as measured by the permit fees charged by the town — is back to somewhat normal levels, not just pre-recession but pre-boom.
For instance, permit fees charged in 2003 added up to roughly $983,000. This year’s permit fees so far add up to about $1.2 million. That’s about what the town collected in 2012. In normal years, that’s about the range of fee collections, Haeberle said.
Another positive sign is a growing number of projects similar to the one now being done at Simba Run — extensive exterior renovations to existing condo and townhome projects.
“That’s a good sign for the town,” he said. “The older building stock is being upgraded or replaced ... that shows people are spending money on their property.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.