Chamonix construction could begin in April | VailDaily.com

Chamonix construction could begin in April

VAIL — A parcel in West Vail has long been seen as a site for locals' housing, but it's taken time for ideas to take shape. The Vail Town Council on Tuesday made a pair of important decisions about the property, with the intent to deliver the first units by the end of 2017.

Council members decided to open up the 3.6-acre parcel to a mix of townhomes and roughly 10 duplex units. The council also struck a handshake deal with a development team.

That team includes planner Will Hentschel, of Denver-based 359 Design, RA Nelson Construction and, probably, Triumph Development, the Vail-based company that has been working on the design and business plan for the project.

Those decisions will lead to others, of course. The council still needs to make decisions about how to fund the project and just what the mix of housing will look like.

The idea, though, is to have the plans finalized by Oct. 1, start construction by April 1 and have the first units ready for delivery by the end of 2017.

WHAT TYPE OF UNITS?

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The big decision, though, is just what kinds of homes will be built — the exact number is likely to be between 45 and 50. Units left out of that mix are smaller condos, although there could be a few small units built beneath the duplex units. Duplex buyers may be able to buy those smaller units.

Council member Jen Mason said the town shouldn't build any one-bedroom units, seeing little demand for those from long-term residents.

"You want to be able to have guests or roommates," Mason said. "I think we should look only at two or three bedrooms."

Any combination of units will lead to trade-offs. In the case of going with more family-targeted units, the main trade-offs are cost and the need to put more pavement on the site.

Hentschel said that trade-off could be mitigated with landscaping and other design techniques.

"If the pavement is reasonably flat, it's fine," council member Greg Moffet said, adding that flat pavement encourages skating and other kids' games.

KEEPING IT AFFORDABLE

Before anything is built, though, the town and developers need to decide how to finance and sell the units.

Financing options are next, and the council is expected to have a long discussion on the topic at its Aug. 2 meeting. At some point, town officials will need to decide how much more money they'll put into the project — in addition to the property itself — to keep it affordable, especially as construction costs continue to rise.

PARKING AND STORAGE

Between now and April, the plan will also need to finalize big issues including parking and storage. Council members started discussing garage and storage space in the units, but Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther told the board that those details can be worked out as the development plan proceeds through the design stage, as well as the required approvals by the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and the Vail Design Review Board.

Still, Moffet said, indoor storage will be essential.

"A three-bedroom home and having to rent a mini-storage unit in Eagle-Vail isn't an option," he said.

GOING GREEN?

Another detail to be worked out by October is how energy-efficient the units will be and whether they might use alternative energy sources. Council member Kim Langmaid urged Hentschel and Triumph representative Michael O'Connor to keep those ideas in mind when designing the structures.

"Building housing near jobs is the biggest single step we can take to reduce greenhouse gases," Moffet said.

While there's still much work to do before the start of construction, Mayor Dave Chapin said he was excited about decisions being made.

"This is a wonderful opportunity, a challenging opportunity and an exciting opportunity," Chapin said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

What is it?

• The Chamonix parcel is in west Vail, roughly behind the fire station.

• The parcel is 3.6 acres, purchased by the town more than a decade ago.

• Officials envision between 40 and 50 units on the site.

• Most, and probably all, units will be restricted for future appreciation, and owners must be employed in Eagle County.