Amid talk of economic downturn, developer seeks more time on Avon riverfront property
Space between the Westin and Avon Road could see 60 to 100 units if vested rights are extended
AVON — East West Partners is expected to close in December on a property it has been trying to purchase from Marriott Vacations for quite some time, project partner Jim Telling told the Avon Town Council on Oct. 10.
The 1.7-acre lot is surrounded by the Eagle River to the south, Riverfront Lane to the north, Avon Road to the east and the Westin Riverfront Hotel to the west. Telling said Points of Colorado — a subsidiary of Marriott — is no longer interested in developing the land, which has vested rights on it until March of 2021. Those rights prevent the town from being able to change regulations affecting the property.
Applying for an extension on the vested rights, Telling said he fears East West Partners may need more time than the rights allow in completing an ambitious development project his company has planned for the property, once they own it. The Avon Town Council postponed taking action on the request and will review it again on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
East West’s plan calls for a density range of 60 to 100 units and a maximum height limitation of 105 feet — except areas of the lot falling within 50 feet from the southern boundary at the Eagle River, where a maximum height of 55 feet will apply.
Both the density and the height requested will require the plan associated with the property — which Marriott had once considered — to be amended. East West also asked for those amendments as part of their request on Oct. 10.
Telling said there’s a 50 percent chance that East West Partners would be able to start development by the fall of next year.
“And if we start the following spring, the vested rights would have expired,” Telling said.
Telling also said the company would construct the project in phases — the first phase would require a vested rights extension until 2024, the second phase would require an extension until 2025.
“The second phase, we’ve asked for another year, to try to anticipate another downturn or economic slowdown,” he said.
Avon Town Council member Tamra Underwood said she was OK with the extension of the vested rights on the grounds of a potential recession.
“With respect to the longer deadline for using the vested rights, I think that this is reasonable given what we saw in 2008-2009,” she said.
Avon Town Council member Scott Prince pointed out that the request now gives Avon more leverage in persuading East West Partners to provide something the town may need for that area.
“We’re giving them an extension, and in exchange, we can ask for something,” Prince said.
In considering the town’s bargaining position, council members’ thoughts jumped quickly to the topic of parking.
Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes pointed out that adjacent to the property in question, the advent of the Westin Riverfront Hotel has created parking complications in the town core.
“All of those employees are parking on town property, there’s just not enough parking for their employees,” Hymes said of the Westin.
In discussing parking issues in the area, town council and staff gave guests a sneak peek at a few ideas that could make their way into the town’s 2020 strategic plan.
“I think you need to start seriously considering paid parking,” town manager Eric Heil told the council. “Westin is certainly a large employer, but they’re not the only employer in the core, and so whatever employee parking is happening on town property, I’m sure it’s shared by all the accommodations businesses in the core.”
Prince asked Heil if there is anything Avon can do to properly mitigate the impact East West’s project would have on parking in the area. The project calls for 1.2 parking spaces per unit.
“On site, certainly there could be more parking,” Heil said. “That can be something that we can talk to the applicant about.”
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.