Avon targets transit center land

Veronica Whitney
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily The Town of Avon is seeking to acquire a porton of this land off of Benchmark Road in Avon to create a multi-modal transit center.

AVON – The town has moved closer to getting the land it wants to expand its transit center. On Tuesday, the town served Al Williams, who owns the west Avon parcel, with condemnation papers after he didn’t respond to an offer the town made for the land. The town offered Williams $674,800 for one-third of an acre of a parcel known as Lot 2, which sits next to the Avon Town Square on Benchmark Road.”We didn’t have another piece of land that meets our need,” Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks said. “We needed to be pretty much in the same location we are.”

The land is across the street from where county buses stop in Avon. The land also is near Avon’s hotels and condominiums, Brooks said. “We chose that land because it fits our needs. It’s centrally located to our bed base. Also it’s next to the railroad tracks and we hope to be able to tie up to a train system in the future,” he said. Eminent domain -also called condemnation – is the powerf government agencies have to acquire property for public use. A key attribute of eminent domain is that the government can exercise its power even if the owner does not wish to sell his or her property. The town expects to take immediate possession of the land at a hearing yet to be scheduled in District Court, Brooks said. “(Williams) can still make a counter offer, he could get his own appraiser or could agree to negotiate with us later,” Brooks said. “We are going there to take immediate possession.” Williams, of ATS Joint Venture, who built the Avon Town Square that’s home to the Slifer, Smith & Frampton Center and other buildings, declined to comment for the story Thursday.”I’m not in a position or desire to comment,” he said.

The town, which is getting ready to build a regional transportation center in the fall, filed its petition for condemnation with Eagle County District Court on March 15. The new transit center will replace the one at the Avon Center, which doesn’t meet the town’s needs anymore, Brooks said. “We need to get rid of that one,” he said, “it’s too small and it doesn’t handle enough buses.” A center should be able to handle five buses at once, he added. What’s nextWhen government condemns land it must offer the owner a price based on an independent appraisal that represents fair market value of the property. The town, which hired a company from Englewood to do the appraisal, offered Williams $674,800 for his land. The price includes $504,800 for the property, $50,000 for improvements – the land has a paved parking lot – and $120,000 for compensable damages based on the decline in market value of the remainder of the property or severance damage.

Buses come through Avon 20 hours a day, and the transit center it part of Avon’s wider plan to redevelop the west end of town. To Avon Councilwoman Tamra Nottingham Underwood, who was on the new council when it approved the condemnation, this is the right move for the town. “Condemnation is a major step for a town, but we all feel very comfortable with our decision and the location of the new transit center,” she said.The redevelopment plan calls for a new main street area in west Avon, and the Town Council has decided it doesn’t buses running along Main Street because of noise and pollution. “It is important that main street can be closed down to traffic,” Avon Councilwoman Amy Phillips said. “This is the best location (for a transit center) – close to Main Street, and also we hope there will be a train corridor that will again connect Eagle to Denver or Grand Junction.” Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail, Colorado

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