Talks resume for Vail’s Timber Ridge
Ryan Summerlin February 5, 2013
VAIL, Colorado – More than a year after the last Timber Ridge redevelopment plan fizzled, a new concept for the eastern portion of the workforce housing complex is emerging.
The new concept, presented Tuesday to the Vail Town Council, is far less dense than the more than 600-bed concept proposed by Texas developer Darren Woody in 2009. That proposal dissipated in late 2011 after Woody couldn’t secure U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development financing because of conditions requiring a downsizing of the project that no longer made it financially viable.
A new development team, however, thinks they might have the answer for the town-owned property: Much lower density at just 200 or so beds, and no structured parking.
The team consists of Jen Wright of Wright and Company, Gary Gorman of Gorman USA, Chupa Nelson of R.A. Nelson, Gary Brooks of Alpine Engineering and architect Hans Berglund. As of Tuesday afternoon, however, the Vail Town Council wasn’t yet sure whether they should allow the team to proceed or perhaps put the redevelopment project out to bid as the town did in the past.
The town of Vail is currently refinancing the Timber Ridge project in an attempt to pay down its $8 million outstanding debt. Mayor Andy Daly said Tuesday that one of the town’s main objectives in owning Timber Ridge has always been to redevelop the site to ensure the town’s long-term commitment to providing workforce housing.
The redevelopment proposal would, like the last proposal, focus on the eastern portion of the site, keeping the western half in tact, for now. Wright said the team looked at the project without any preconceived notions as to how it could most efficiently be built. The team tried to come up with a plan that balances density with parking, he said, because the expense of building structured parking makes the economics of such a project unfeasible.
The preliminary result is a 100-unit project with 175 surface parking spaces on the eastern 5 acres of the site. All of the units would be rentals, and most would be two bedroom, two bath units averaging roughly 850 square feet. The Timber Ridge complex currently has about 600 beds on the entire 10-acre site.
The council generally supported the initial concept, although Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said she isn’t sure it fits with the town’s goal of having the maximum number of units on that site with the lowest possible rent. Rogers said she also isn’t convinced that structured parking can’t be done. She said if the town is going to make that kind of change to the overall concept, then other developers and architects in the valley should be given the chance to bid.
Councilwoman Kerry Donovan said the new concept feels more appropriate in terms of how it fits in with the community. She said she was never comfortable with the size and scale of Woody’s proposal.
Because the project is merely a concept at this point, details such as how much of the development would be seasonal workforce housing versus year-round rental housing, among countless other details that popped up during Woody’s multi-year proposal process, are still up for debate.
There is a sense of urgency, though, as the development team points toward a window of opportunity because of low interest rates and predictable construction costs over the next 12 months.
The town of Vail also wants to consult with its Local Housing Authority board before initially approving any concept for the site. Daly called the development team’s idea “imaginative,” but ended the meeting by saying the town has a decision to make about whether it can move ahead with the current team exclusively or whether the process should go out to bid.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.