AVON — Mike Brumbaugh has owned Venture Sports in Avon for nearly a quarter-century. For virtually all of that time, he’s hoped to see the town become an easier, friendlier place for pedestrians and cyclists. It looks like he’ll see a number of those changes this year.
A combination of public and private projects in town will transform the look of the older part of town in the months leading up to the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. The public projects are largely on the west side of Avon Road — the street that runs from Interstate 70 to the base of Beaver Creek. With one very significant exception, the private projects are on the east side of Avon Road.
That exception is a new 58-unit building of time-share condos being built by Wyndham. That condo building, right at the town’s primary bus stop, will add more people to the area leading to Nottingham Park. And it’s the park, and the roads leading to it, that will see most of the public investment.
For several years, town officials have been planning a re-do of those streets to create a more pedestrian-friendly area between Avon Road and the lake. That’s going to happen this year. In addition, park improvements are coming that include a permanent stage that will be built roughly where the current boat house is on the southeast corner of the lake. In addition, the newly-re-lined lake will get a sandy beach.
The improvements will continue at the town’s recreation center. Mayor Rich Carroll said plans call for improvements to the pool and the locker rooms.
TIME TO ACT
All those plans have been simmering for some time, all while tax money flowed into an “urban renewal” fund from a special district created just for that purpose.
All those jobs can take years to complete, Carroll said. Complicating the timeline was the lingering economic slump hit the valley in 2008.
With sales tax revenues rising, this council decided it was time to act this year.
Brumbaugh said he’s thrilled to see the changes coming, and praised town officials for making a serious effort to make sure the plans were properly executed. He said he’d ridden some of the areas designated as biking paths with town officials to help lay out a good guide for visitors.
“(Town officials) are taking input from a lot of people about all this,” Brumbaugh said. “I think they’re doing an incredible job.”
The public improvements are being matched, and then some, by the Hoffmann family, a group that in the past year or so has purchased much of the commercial real estate between Avon Road and City Market, including the old Walmart store and the first floor of the Chapel Square complex.
David Hoffmann said the purchases are part of an ambitious plan, some of which has already been launched. The family company has already tackled painting, roofing and interior upgrades to several buildings. In addition, Hoffmann said the company has renewed the leases for all its current tenants and signed up 13 new tenants for space in the area. Those new tenants include a luggage store, a Robert Talbot menswear store and others. The Vail Leadership Institute has opened a new suite of offices in the building that houses Pazzo’s, and Hoffmann said that Christy Sports is launching a $2 million renovation of its Avon store, with the intent of making that the company’s flagship location.
Beyond the improvements, Hoffmann said the company is putting about $1 million into bronze statues that will be on permanent display in the area.
The biggest change, though, is a proposal about to hit the town’s planning department that would put a new six-screen theater into the area.
All that activity has the potential to put a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic moving from one side to the other on Avon Road. Carroll said what he’s seen is that the town’s current pedestrian crossings are working well, as motorists get more used to stopping for people crossing the street.
Hoffmann said all the improvements coming this year reflect a good working relationship between both private developers and town officials.
“There’s a real esprit d’corps in Avon right now,” he said. “It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s long overdue.”