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Aiming for alpine aesthetic

Matt Zalaznick

But that rare patch of green space – which at the moment is a mud puddle with a giant boulder in the middle of it – is exactly what will separate The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter when they open in the Village at Avon next summer.

“I think it’s a good thing,” says Avon resident Chantal Angot of the sprawling shopping complex. “Construction is a pain, but it will be nice to have some more affordable shopping.”

The Wal-Mart Supercenter, with its own grocery store, will occupy approximately 187,000 square feet, with the svelter Home Depot about 120,000 square feet. But the hulking stores have been designed to vanish into the mountain scenery, says Magnus Lindholm, a principal partner in the project and owner of the land it’s being built on.

“We don’t want to see the roofs. That’s one of the goals, because they’re huge,” Lindholm said.

The mall is being built on the large swath of land in east Avon between Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6. The two stores have been built right up against the hill underneath I-70 so they won’t stick out if you’re looking north across the valley from the hills above Eagle-Vail, Lindholm says.

The Home Depot has a facade meant to resemble aspen trees, and the parking lots also will be extensively landscaped with aspen and pines, says Shane Bohart, director of development for Traer Creek, the company building the village.

“Wal-Mart asked us to reduce the amount of trees in the lot,” Bohart says. “The company was concerned people wouldn’t see the store.”

The lights in the parking lot also won’t be as bright as the lights in front of typical big-box stores, having been cut by 30 to 40 percent, Bohart said.

Though some people have complained the huge department stores don’t belong in the valley, Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds says they’ll make a big difference in the lives of those who live here.

“I think it’s going to be a positive influence for the whole community –not just Avon, but the whole valley,” Reynolds says. “A lot of people spend a lot of time driving back and forth to Denver going to these kinds of stores. It will be nice to have the convenience.”

Construction began on the Village at Avon in June and has progressed rapidly, despite complaints this summer from neighboring residents of massive clouds of dust wafting into their backyards.

Bohart says workers completed most of the construction by the start of winter. The parking lots are finished, many of the roads and roundabouts have been paved, a new railroad underpass is taking shaping and the old Nottingham Ranch Road bridge is now in the middle of an empty field behind City Market.

Workers have completed the east half of a new bridge over the Eagle River between the stores and a fledgling roundabout on Highway 6. The new bridge will be four-lanes wide and higher than the old bridge. The road will then go under the railroad tracks and wind through another roundabout to the parking lots in front of the big-boxes.

The road will swing behind the stores to a new I-70 interchange that should open in July, about a month after the two stores open, Bohart says.

“We’ll still have quite a bit of paving to do in the spring,” Bohart says.

Shoppers also will drive to the stores from behind City Market on an extended East Beaver Creek Boulevard and a new street leading from Chapel Square.

The new roads and big-boxes, however, are just the first phase of the massive project. The developer has approval to build about another 300,000 square feet of commercial space alongside the big boxes and 2,400 homes on both sides on I-70.

“It’s still just The Home Depot and Wal-Mart, but it’s definitely coming along better than expected, faster than expected,” Lindholm said.

Big interest in Village commercial space

There is heavy interest in land alongside the The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter stores, due to open in the Village at Avon next summer, says Shane Bohart, director of development for Traer Creek, the company building the project.

Several entities are especially eager to build on a particular, 3.9-acre patch of land, Bohart says.

“We’ve been solicited by all kinds of people on all kinds of real estate, though we haven’t even gone to market,” Bohart says.

Wal-Mart will move out of its building in downtown Avon when its 187,000-square-foot Supercenter opens next summer. Traer Creek doesn’t own the building that houses Wal-Mart currently but has taken on the responsibility of finding a new tenant or tenants for it, Bohart says.

There also is heavy interest in the Wal-Mart building, but Bohart says he’s not yet able to give the names of interested companies.

“We’re fully focused on it and we should have it figured out in the next 60 days,” Bohart says.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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