Chamonix meeting draws crowd in Vail | VailDaily.com

Chamonix meeting draws crowd in Vail

Project architect Will Hentschel of 359 Design explains the Chamonix neighborhood's current, preliminary site plan to a prospective resident. A Wednesday open house in Vail drew about 175 people seeking more information on the project.

VAIL — Taylor Eubank has lived in Vail for nearly a decade. He's ready to start making house payments of his own instead of paying rent.

Eubank was one of about 175 people who attended a day-long open house concerning the proposed Chamonix affordable housing project in West Vail. In 2002, the town bought the 3.6-acre parcel which is located roughly behind the West Vail fire station. From the beginning, the idea was to use the parcel for housing, but development ideas have only started to gel in the past year or so.

The current concept is to build a neighborhood of about 50 appreciation-capped homes — a combination of duplexes, townhomes and condos. But that idea still needs a lot of definition, and that requires hearing from people who might want to buy a home in the proposed neighborhood. That was the idea behind the open house on Wednesday.

Community open house

“I’d love to be able to afford to live in Vail.”Koehler BakerEagle-Vail resident

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The event — which ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. — drew a substantial crowd. Those people could talk with project architects and town officials about the plan so far. There were also a couple of mortgage companies at the meeting, ready to talk to people about what it takes to finance the purchase of an appreciation-capped home.

Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said about 175 people attended, with almost all of them completing surveys requesting information about possible buyers' employment, family size, income and more.

Curious Residents

Eubank, a building engineer at Vail's Ritz-Carlton, was part of the mid-day crowd who came to the session at the Grand View room atop the Lionshead parking structure. He said he's rented throughout the valley, from East Vail to Intermountain, for the past eight years, and is ready for more certainty in his life.

"I need to start investing, and not just renting," he said.

But, he added, he doesn't want to settle for anything.

"I would like to see some thoughtful design," Eubank said. "I like open space, I'd like a sense of community — people who share why we all live here."

The idea behind the neighborhood is to keep Vail attractive to more young professionals — particularly those with young families. But some longtime Vail residents are also interested in the new homes.

Jeff Wiles has lived in Vail for more than 30 years. He lives today in one of the town's older appreciation-capped units.

"I'm looking for something new," Wiles said. "And I like (Chamonix's) location."

While Wiles understands the likelihood that many, if not most, of the new homes will be geared toward families, he said he'd like a one-bedroom unit. Still, he added, a two-bedroom unit would be fine, too.

Preliminary Plans

Ale Correa, a longtime resident who works in the restaurant and hospitality business, said he came to the open house to learn more about what's going to be available, although many questions remain to be answered. Correa said he'll be in line to buy a unit if he hears the right answers about pricing, and whether the units will have storage and garage space — both of which are in the preliminary plans.

"It would be nice to stop renting after all these years," Correa said. "I'd like to have a two-bedroom with some storage, and I'd take on a roommate."

Koehler Baker grew up in Vail. He returned to the valley after college and is now living in Eagle-Vail. He'd like to move back to town.

"It's the convenience, not having to drive," Baker said. "I'd love to be able to afford to live in Vail."

Baker's mom, Mary Anne, said she hopes that when the Chamonix project is built — the first phase could begin construction later this year — the town's lottery system might accommodate her son.

"They really need to weight it for the children of winter," she said.

Take the survey

Town of Vail officials are asking people interested in the Chamonix affordable housing units to complete a survey. That survey asks respondents about their own needs, and what they’d like to see in the Chamonix neighborhood. Those surveys were distributed at a Feb. 3 open house, and residents are invited to take the survey on line, and submit them until 5 p.m. on Feb. 8.

To learn more about the project and take the survey, go to http://www.vailgov.com/announcements/vail-chamonix-neighborhood-project.