Avon land swap is edging nearer | VailDaily.com

Avon land swap is edging nearer

Cliff Thompson

Vail Resorts is reportedly close to applying for zoning with the town of Avon on land west of Avon – a move that could help complete a major land swap stalled for 27 months.

That stalled swap involves 480 acres of U.S. Forest Service land between Avon and Singletree; 509 acres of private land 18 miles south of Eagle and several smaller parcels scattered across the county.

Vail Resorts put up $3.4 million for 40 acres on the land west of Avon to build up to 300 units of employee housing, but encountered development difficulties and declining demand for employee housing.

The Forest Service issued an ultimatum to the ski resort company to follow through by March 5 with the agreement it signed in Dec. 2002, or face a suit from the agency for breaching its contractual obligations.

Earlier this month Vail Resorts revealed that the West Avon land could be acquired from the company. It also hinted it was interested in the possibility that the newly enacted county opens space tax fund could be used to purchase it.

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Vail Resorts is eager to clear the issue because the Forest Service has indicated it must be completed before the ski resort company can proceed with its $75 million Front Door project in Vail Village. That project requires another swap involving three acres of Forest Service land at the base of Vail Mountain being exchanged for 136 acres the company owns along South Game Creek on Vail Mountain and 160 acres on the south side of Arrowhead just west of Beaver Creek.

The 509 acres at Vassar Meadows south of Eagle contain pristine wetland and upland areas that will be protected from development once they are in Forest Service hands. They are currently being held by the Boulder-based Conservation Trust while the deal edges forward.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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