A question of vision
VAIL – It’s been a big issue in Vail since last summer, when developer Peter Knobel rescinded his proposal for a bowling alley, movie theater and ice rink in Vail Village.Almost a year later, even after the project was re-submitted and approved, the proposal is still controversial, and it may soon go to a townwide vote.Knobel says his building jibes with long-term plans for the village. Opponents say his design skirts building rules and is a divisive issue that should be decided by the town’s voters.The Town Council approved the proposal on March 21. But now, petitioners are collecting signatures to force the townwide vote, which could happen this summer.The proposal has 69 condos, a three-screen movie theater, a 10-lane bowling alley, a public plaza with an ice rink, and two levels of stores and restaurants facing the plaza. It ranges in height from 35 feet tall to 99.9 feet tall.
The Vail Village Master Plan, adopted in 1990, recognizes the need for “modest” growth while trying to preserve Vail’s character. It has tailored plans for each part of the village, including Crossroads.Knobel says his proposal largely follows the plan. Opponents say the special development district, which is being used for the Crossroads proposal, circumvents the long-range plan and promotes piecemeal, incoherent development.”I wish they would redo a master plan and tell us what we can expect in the future,” said Vail resident Andy Wiessner, who is seeking a vote on the proposal.The plan says the frontage road side of the Crossroads property should be five to six stories tall. The proposed building is six stories tall on the frontage road. However, that same part of the building when viewed from plaza along Meadow Drive, which is lower than the frontage road, has eight visible stories.The Meadow Drive side of the property should be three to four stories tall, the town’s plan says. The Crossroads proposal has four to six visible stories on that part of the proposal.Crossroads has 11.5-foot-tall floors, the same height that has been approved for Lionshead redevelopment. That’s taller than the 11-foot floor-to-floor heights used for the Tivoli Lodge and Manor Vail. When Vail’s long-range plan was adopted, the conventional floor-to-floor height was 9 feet.
The plan breaks down development plans for several different areas of Vail. The plan supports larger building along the frontage road:”Generally speaking, it is the goal of this Plan to maintain the concentration of low-scale buildings in the core area while positioning larger buildings along the northern periphery (along the Frontage Road) … ,” the plan says. “This pattern has already been established and in some cases these larger structures along the Frontage Road serve to frame views over Vail Village to Vail Mountain.”As for the Bridge Street area, the plan says buildings should “preserve the character of the village as it is today.”The plan also advocates a plaza space for the Crossroads property, which is part of the proposal. The plan also cites the need for underground parking, loading and delivery facilities, sidewalks, streetscape improvements, public art and recreation amenities for the site, all of which are included as part of the Crossroads proposal.
Developer Peter Knobel has signed an agreement to provide these benefits for the town:• Public plaza with a fountain in the spring and summer and an ice rink in the winter. It would be controlled by the town and financed by Crossroads.• Three-screen movie theater.• 10-lane bowling alley.• $1.1 million in public art.• Loading and delivery facility. The bay would keep delivery trucks off of Meadow Drive and Village Center Road.• Two sets of public restrooms.• $4 million in streetscape improvements along East Meadow Drive.• Reconstruction of Village Center Road, including installation of snowmelt system.• Employee housing for 12 people.• Improvements to Crossroads’ neighbor, the Vail Village Inn Phase III condominiums.• A new raised median on South Frontage Road.These improvements are outlined in the “developer improvement agreement” between the developer and the town. The agreement says the developer must pay fines if the bowling alley or movie theater stop operating for 40 days out of any 60-day period or for 30 straight days. The developer would incur penalties of $5,000 per day for each day for the bowling alley and $2,000 per screen per day for movie screen.The developer also cites these benefits:• Anticipated increase in town’s annual sales tax revenue from the Crossroads property from $179,000 to $1.4 million.• 338 below-ground parking spaces, 103 more than what is required. The additional spaces will be used for a private parking club.• More than 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.• A nightclub/live music venue.• An arcade.• A market/convenience store.
For the Four Seasons special development district, town of Vail memos cite these benefits:• Increased tax revenues.• New hotel rooms. • Widening of frontage road and installation of left turn lane.• Installation of new landscaped median in frontage road.• New heated sidewalk along frontage road.• Relocation of a fire hydrant along frontage road.• Relocation of the piping of Spraddle Creek with new culverts.• New heated sidewalk along Vail Road and West Meadow Drive.• Installation of decorative lighting along Meadow Drive.• New curb and gutter and repaving one-half of West Meadow Drive along project frontage.
• New curb and gutter and repaving of a portion of Vail Road.The Four Seasons was granted these deviations from building rules:• Height of 89 feet and a 77.5-foot-tall primary roof ridge. The allowed height is only 48 feet.• Site coverage is 71 percent, while the zoning allows only 65 percent site coverage.• Two locations where the wall height exceeds the maximum allowed retaining wall height.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado