Last week’s announcement from RED Development stating that Eagle River Station is procceding with its interchange design has town officials expressing “cautious optimism” for the project.
The RED Development press release stated that the company had hired Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers, a civil engineering firm based in Lakewood and Edwards, to lead the design effort for the East Eagle Interstate 70 interchange and that Eagle River Station construction is slated to launch by May 2015.
“This is the logical next step for them. We are cautiously optimistic,” said Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney. “I think this is one of the first things they need to be moving on.”
After more than a year of hearing that RED is working on leasing deals and design efforts, that announcement didn’t sound like much of a departure from previous statements. However, RED officials said the action represents a milestone in the project’s development.
“It’s a big step for us to kick off the interchange design,” said Jeff McMahon, of RED Development. “This is really the first big milestone since the entitlement (the Eagle River Station election in 2012).”
In the spring of 2012, Eagle voters reversed an earlier denial and approved the Eagle River Station plan. Eagle River Station is a commercial-residential project proposed by Trinity RED Development, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The 88-acre site is located south of I-70 and north of U.S. Highway 6 on the east end of Eagle. The Eagle River Station proposal includes 582,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 rental units in its first phase. A second phase calls for as much as 150,000 square feet of additional commercial space and another 300 rental units.
What does it mean?
By committing dollars to proceed with the interchange design, RED is signaling success on the leasing front.
“Design of the interchange is an expensive project, and we wouldn’t undertake it unless we were comfortable the project leasing is moving in a positive direction,” McMahon said. “We wanted to get to a comfort level with leasing before proceeding with the interchange design.”
McMahon said Eagle River Station is not yet ready to release information about retailers interested in the project, but he stressed that completion of the interchange is the “critical path” to opening the center. As part of its approval, the Eagle Town Board mandated that the interchange must be complete prior to Eagle River Station’s grand opening.
“We can work simultaneously on the interchange and the commercial, and it takes longer to design and build the interchange than the shopping area,” McMahon said.
Ultimately, the interchange and related Highway 6 improvements represent an investment estimated at $16-20 million in public improvements for Eagle River Station.
“After working through plans with the town of Eagle and its residents, we’re launching the design phase for the highway interchange, which we anticipate will be finalized and approved within 18 months. Not only will the Eagle community benefit from a new, high-quality mixed-use development, but the new I-70 exit also will help accommodate Eagle’s growth for many years to come,” McMahon said.
Eagle officials note that it is important to hear that ERS design efforts are under way, but the town’s tipping point comes when actual construction begins. Right now, it looks like that won’t happen for another 12 to 18 months.
“They do have a significant amount of design work to do before they turn dirt,” said Stavney. He noted when actual construction starts on the interchange, the town must be ready to begin work on its new Lower Basin Water Treatment Plant, needed in part to meet the increase demand of ERS.
McMahon said that by hiring Martin/Martin, RED is bringing on a highly qualified firm to design the interchange. Additionally, he said the announcement illustrates the company’s intention to honor its development promises.
“It is very important for us to hire local firms, we always promised we would,” McMahon said. “Important work has begun and we are using local people to do it.”
In its announcement, RED noted that Martin/Martin heads up a design team that includes a number of Colorado-based firms: Archibeque Land Consulting LTD, Eagle; HP Geotech, Glenwood Springs; Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers, Inc., Avon; KDG Engineers LLC, Lakewood; and LSC Transportation Consultants Inc., Denver.
“We will be finishing the design about a year from now, and about a year from now is when you will see construction start,” McMahon said.
“This is a big day for us and we wanted to share that with the community,” he said.