Chamonix plan: 32 townhomes in West Vail | VailDaily.com

Chamonix plan: 32 townhomes in West Vail

The town of Vail plans to build 32 townhomes on the 3.6-acre Chamonix parcel in West Vail.

VAIL — Putting a new neighborhood in West Vail along Chamonix Lane is starting to become a plan, not just an idea.

The Vail Town Council Tuesday approved the first parts of a plan that would put 32 townhome units on 3.6 acres roughly behind the fire station in West Vail. Those units will all have garages — at least for now — and will include a mix of two- and three-bedroom homes. The garages will be built on-site, but the rest of the units will be built in a factory.

Town of Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther Tuesday showed the council a pair of prospective plans, one with 36 units that included two duplex buildings.

Ruther and the development team — Will Hentschel of 359 Design, Michael O'Connor of Triumph Development and Mike Cuthbertson of RA Nelson — recommended the option with fewer units, for several reasons.

The plan the council approved is less expensive and quicker to build. The plan with 32 units also includes back patios for every units and a neighborhood park.

Cuthbertson told the council that using the townhome-only plan would also allow the first residents to move in as soon as the fall of 2017, if construction begins in May of that year. Building the entire project in one phase would deliver the last units in roughly February of 2018.

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If the entire project was built on site, the townhomes would cost another $650,000, and Cuthbertson said delivery of units wouldn't start until early 2018. Building the units in a factory also cuts waste, and ensures more solid construction.

"Try putting a site-built home on a truck and see what happens," Cuthbertson said.

With those first decisions made, Ruther and the development team will now work on construction documents and will schedule meetings with the town's Planning and Environmental Commission and Design Review Board.

Those meetings could start as soon as December.

While those big decisions have been made, there are more big decisions looming. One of the biggest is how much units will cost.

At current estimates, the least expensive two-bedroom unit would cost $431,000. The most expensive three-bedroom unit would cost $684,000.

At those prices, and given residents spending 35 percent of their income on housing costs, the least expensive units would be affordable to those making 100 percent of the area median income.

The remaining 27 units would be affordable to those making 120 percent or more of area median income. Fully half of the units would be affordable to those making 140 percent or more of the area median income.

Joanna Beall and her family now live in the Vail Commons condominiums above the Vail City Market store.

Beall asked if the council could find a way to bring the units in at lower prices. She said she and her husband and kids are looking for a three-bedroom unit, but could only afford the least-expensive Chamonix unit.

Fellow Vail resident Chris Southwick also asked the council to consider putting more units on the site.

"This is an ideal site for many more units," Southwick said.

Mayor Dave Chapin said he once agreed with that idea, but has become convinced that fewer units and a more family-friendly neighborhood are the appropriate uses at that site.

Council member Kim Langmaid reminded those in the audience that the town is working now on another plan, to buy deed restrictions on 100 other homes in the next year.

"These are brand-new houses for first-time buyers," council member Dick Cleveland said. "It costs money for brand-new. For a lot of people, the answer may be buying another deed-restricted unit. New housing can't be affordable for everybody."

That said, council members said they'd encourage the development team to work on bringing down costs in the new neighborhood. They'll also need to determine a lottery system to pick buyers.

Those meetings will occur over the next several weeks. More decisions need to be made by the end of this year.

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

See the plan

Tuesday’s presentation to the Vail Town Council can be seen on the town’s website, http://www.vailgov.com/chamonix.