A room for Junior, a garage and storage?
VAIL ” The developer that wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking garage has thrown in a bonus project ” rebuilding the aging Timber Ridge affordable housing complex at a cost of about $150 million.
And the developer wants to know: Should it house all seasonal workers, as it does now? Or should it also house families, couples or singles in affordable condos?
Vail’s business association says the 10-acre Timber Ridge land should only house seasonal workers, citing a “critical” need for seasonal workers in Vail.
But several Vail council members adamantly say they were elected to bring families to Vail, and that’s what Timber Ridge should do.
“I couldn’t have been more clear during the last election of what my primary objective was,” said Councilman Greg Moffet.
The new Timber Ridge should have three- and four-bedroom “flats” for families, with two-car garages and storage space in addition to housing for seasonal workers, Moffet said.
Vail shouldn’t be made up of only wealthy second-home owners and seasonal workers, Moffet said.
“You can’t have a community without a middle class,” Moffet said. “We don’t have housing stock that accommodates the middle class as things are now.”
Timber Ridge now has room for about 600 workers in 198 two-bedroom apartments.
But Vail’s business association says Timber Ridge isn’t the place for families.
“In a perfect world, it would be wonderful,” said Kaye Ferry, executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association. “It is not a perfect world. It is a little, tiny strip of land called Vail. It’s half a mile wide and it goes two miles long. It’s not a perfect world. And we don’t have unlimited resources.
“We have to solve the most critical problem, and that’s having workers to go to work in the town of Vail every day,” she said.
Vail businesses faced a dire shortage of workers this winter, and the problem is only going to get worse as more businesses open both in Vail and downvalley, Ferry said.
Already-approved development in Vail will add 1,500 jobs in the next few years, the town says. And more and more free-market homes in Vail are being sold to nonworkers such as second-home owners and retirees.
Even if Vail could quadruple the number of seasonal workers that live at Timber Ridge, it wouldn’t meet the demand, she said.
“I don’t think it’s government’s job to subsidize family housing,” she said.
Other council members also disagree with Ferry.
“If we only provide seasonal housing and the only people living in the town are people who live here for five months or second-home owners, what kind of community do we have?” said Councilwoman Kim Newbury. “We need professionals, children going to school.”
Seasonal workers and families can co-exist peacefully on the site, Newbury said.
Sally Jackle, a member of the Vail Local Housing Authority, said there’s a need for a mix. There’s a demand for both rental housing and one- to two-bedroom condos, Jackle said.
It shouldn’t be only seasonal housing, she said.
“We on the housing authority think that’s shortsighted and there are other needs, and many other people need to work in the valley who no longer need to rent ” full-time workers who are professionals,” Jackle said.
The developer, Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital, has proposed 312 four-bedroom apartments with 1,248 beds plus 167 for-sale, deed-restricted condos for Timber Ridge. But that formula is subject to change based on the town’s desires.
“It’s now up to the community leaders to come back to us and say, ‘That’s what we want or that’s not what we want,'” said Mark Masinter, part of the development team.
Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital, a Dallas developer, wants to rebuild the 1,150-space garage into a $600 million complex with two hotels, a conference center, condos, timeshares, a bus hub, stores, restaurants and even more public parking.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.