100 residential units can now be added to commercial center of Eagle Ranch | VailDaily.com

100 residential units can now be added to commercial center of Eagle Ranch

Eagle Town Council approves amendment to development agreement to add high-density residential units

Project applicants for Eagle Ranch came before the Eagle Town Council Tuesday to ask for up to 100 units of high density residential development to be allowed in the neighborhood’s commercial core.
Pam Boyd/Vail Daily

The Eagle Town Council approved a request Tuesday allowing 100 residential units to be added to Eagle Ranch’s commercial district, which supporters say will help break a period of “stagnation” in the area’s development.

Much has changed since the first agreement for a 1,295-unit development called Eagle Ranch was approved back in January of 1999, said Steve Lindstrom, a member of the Eagle Ranch Property Owners Association, in Tuesday’s meeting.

The original developers had no way of knowing how much commercial versus residential development today’s market would call for, and the reality of Eagle in 2022 is that there is much more demand for housing than commercial space, Lindstrom said.

“These are the opportunities to keep things growing and progressing instead of stagnating and so those are a lot of the reasons that we went looking at allowing some more density,” he said.

The amendment to the Eagle Ranch “planned unit development” guide and zoning plan adds 100 units of high-density residential development to the “center commercial district,” which is zoned to allow for both commercial and residential projects.

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Eagle Ranch’s “center commercial district” is designated as the downtown area bordered by Founders Avenue to the north and Sylvan Lake Road to the south, roughly situated between Gamble Street and MacDonald Street. It is home to many of the town’s commercial gems such as Color Coffee, The Assembly and the Capitol Theatre.

The Capitol Theatre in Eagle Ranch.
Barry Eckhaus/barryeckhaus.com

The amendment also changed the area’s maximum building height from 35 to 40 feet to better accommodate the development of residential units on top of existing commercial space.

Newly-elected Town Council member Nick Sunday expressed the most reservations about the amended plan in Tuesday’s meeting, but, when all was said and done, the request was approved unanimously by the council.

Sunday said he was concerned that adding 100 units of housing would place too much of a burden on surrounding infrastructure, specifically when it comes to traffic build-up and parking availability.

These concerns were also brought forward by Eagle Ranch resident Michael Wheeler, who said the amendment request was motivated by “political conflicts of interest.” While developers may be supportive of the idea, Wheeler alleged that many Eagle Ranch homeowners are not and were not given the chance to vote on the matter.

In response, project applicant Dominic Mauriello said the allowance of 100 units does not mean they would all come at once — just that developers would be able to consider new residential projects in the area. Getting up to that number would likely take place over the next 20 to 30 years, Mauriello said.

A site map shows the area designated as Eagle Ranch’s “center commercial core” highlighted in pink.
Courtesy photo

Developers worked to address the concerns of homeowners at two meetings of the Eagle Ranch Property Owners Association, Mauriello said, pointing out that Wheeler was the only homeowner who attended Tuesday’s meeting to express his opposition to the amendment.

Sunday also expressed hesitations about taking away from space available for commercial development, especially given Eagle’s reputation as a “bedroom community.”

“Eagle already is a bedroom community where everybody works upvalley and spends their money upvalley,” Sunday said. “So, if we’re just going to take more jobs away and send them upvalley, then we’re going to have even more people commuting every morning.”

Still, Sunday said he was torn on the matter given the strong local need for housing and the fact that a few commercial spaces in Eagle Ranch’s commercial center have been vacant for quite some time.

Some commercial space in the area is set aside for the development of a grocery store with 16 residential units, Mauriello said. The new project, known as the “Hagedorn Building and Village Market,” was brought forward by the same family that developed Eagle Landing at Brush Creek.

Overall, the changes to the development agreement would result in a reduction in retail space totaling about 14,500 square feet, he said. However, there would still be a surplus of another 16,000 square feet of retail space in the commercial center.

This kind of “infill development” is more sustainable as it allows for increased walkability between homes and businesses and does not cut into open spaces, Mauriello said in a presentation on how the amendment aligns with goals outlined in Eagle’s strategic plan.

The changes would serve the town’s goals to “stimulate economic vitality and development” by encouraging the redevelopment of existing spaces and placing consumers directly into the neighborhood’s commercial center, Mauriello said.

The new plan would also “diversify the attainable housing stock” by spurring new rental and for-sale housing units, although Lindstrom predicted the majority would likely be smaller rental units due to the location.

Finally, the additional property tax revenue generated would help support the economic vitality of the town, Mauriello said.

The vote to approve the amended plan was initially tabled for a month because the Town Council was concerned about when developers would be required to pay a water rights dedication fee or “tap fee” for new units exceeding the 1,295-unit maximum for the neighborhood.

After further discussion and analysis by town staff, the final version of the amended plan approved Tuesday states that new developers must pay tap fees upon the issuance of a development permit by the town.

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