A much bigger Wal-Mart is coming.
The Home Depot is coming. Those are the reasons for all the construction activity in the large, mostly empty field below Interstate 70 just east of Avon.
More than a decade ago, there was an airport there, the Stolport Airstrip, but by the fall of 2003 it will be home to the long-anticipated Village at Avon, bustling residential development and shopping center with its own Interstate 70 interchange. Developers say it is the largest project of its kind in Eagle County, if not the High Country.
“It’s really not a shopping center,” said Bill Post, a lawyer for the developer, Traer Creek. “Everyone keeps thinking they’ll see an urban sprawl of strip centers, like in Silverthorne. That really is not our intent right now.”
The Village at Avon, 10 years in planning and design, will cover 1,800 acres on the old airstrip land and in the hills north of Eagle-Vail – land which has been annexed into the town of Avon.
Aside from the 650,000 square feet of commercial space that includes Wal-Mart and The Home Depot, the village will comprise 2,400 luxury and affordable homes, 7.3 acres for a school, 44.7 acres of parks, 500 acres of open space and 4 acres for a culture and recreation center.
The entire project is scheduled to take 20 years to build and is one the largest developments now planned on the Western Slope.
The work going on right now is restricted to the “full-diamond” I-70 interchange, the two megastores and the network of roads that will get shoppers to the parking lots between U.S. Highway 6 and I-70.
The Home Depot and two access roads are scheduled to open by July 2003. A Wal-Mart Supercenter follows with its large grocery section in August, Post said.
The freeway interchange itself is due to open in September, he said.
Meanwhile, on the east end of the development, East Beaver Creek Boulevard through Avon will be extended. And on the western edge, a new four-lane boulevard, a refurbished bridge and a roundabout on U.S. Highway 6 will replace what’s now called Nottingham Ranch Road.
The new road –Post Boulevard – was actually named after Post by one of the development’s principal owners, Magnus Lindholm.
There will also be roads in the village named after Avon Mayor Judy Yoder and former town mayor, Jack Fawcett.
Fawcett was mayor when the Village at Avon was approved and annexed into the town in 1998.
“The Village doesn’t really have a mall area. It’s two big stores with a nice park in between with a water feature that should be landscaped well,” Post said.
There will an additional three and a half acres of shops or restaurants next to Wal-Mart and another two acres of stores on a patch of land called McGrady Acres, which borders Post Boulevard near Highway 6.
“We have no definitive plan what will go there,” Post said. “We have not gone out and solicited, but we’ve had multiple offers already on various parcels.”
No one knows what will replace Wal-Mart when it leaves is existing home in downtown Avon. But, once it moves, Traer Creek will take over the least and find a new tenant, Post said.
“We’re gonna take it over and try to manage it appropriately,” he said.
Avon Town Manager Bill Efting had a few suggestions for what should replace the downtown Wal-Mart.
“How about a bowling alley or a movie theater?” Efting said.
There were also fears in the community that Traer Creek would have trouble finishing the approximately $5.5 million freeway interchange. But Avon Assistant Town Manager Larry Brooks, who’s supervising the project for the town, said those fears are unfounded.
“They had to put up all the money to finish the project in order to start,” Brooks said. “It’s sitting in a bank account.”
Should the developer stop in the middle of constructing the interchange, the Colorado Department of Transportation would likely use the money in the account to finish it.
“It’s way too early to pick a date, but so far things are going well. I don’t see any reason to fall behind at this point,” Brooks said.
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.