Condemnation may force out burgers
VAIL ” Bob Armour said he’ll miss the burgers if Wendy’s in West Vail goes away. But would he rather have fries or a fire station?
“I want a fire station with a drive-through,” he said. “Let’s make this a win-win.”
Armour, a West Vail resident, is an advocate of putting the proposed West Vail fire station on the Wendy’s site. Proponents of the fire station cite better response times for the West Vail neighborhood.
But the acquisition of the Wendy’s site hit a bump in the road when the town’s contract to buy the land fell apart. Now, the Town Council is considering condemnation to get ownership of the land.
Armour said he’s pleased to see the direction the council is taking.
“If this what it takes to continue forward progress, the council is making a good decision,” he said
In April, the town of Vail signed a contract to buy the Wendy’s land for $2 million. But a dispute between the owner of the land and the tenant caused the contract to be voided.
Last week, the Town Council voted to draft a resolution of intent to condemn the property. The council is expected to vote on the resolution at its Nov. 21 meeting.
“Condemnation doesn’t mean we’ll steal it,” said Town Councilman Mark Gordon. “It means we pay the fair market value for it.”
Condemnation would allow the town to negotiate with the owner and the tenant, said Town Attorney Matt Mire. If those negotiations are unsuccessful, the town could use the process known as eminent domain to acquire the land, Mire said.
“The parties both want to sell, but they are so busy arguing among themselves, this will expedite the process,” said Councilman Greg Moffet. “It’s not a hostile condemnation.”
The property is adjacent to another 3.6-acre piece of land the town already owns. On the two pieces of land, the town wants to put the fire station as well as affordable housing.
The Wendy’s site would allow fire engines to get in and out of the station easily, and it would also free up more space for employee housing for the adjacent town-owned “Hud Wirth” site.
Without being able to acquire the Wendy’s land, the town has to hold off on planning, said town spokeswoman Suzanne Silverthorn.
“We’re in a holding pattern, and we’ve been in a holding plan for quite some time,” she said.
Wend Vail, the tenant, has an option in its contract that allows it to buy the Wendy’s property for $1.4 million or the “fair market value,” whichever is greater.
In court documents, Wend Vail said it hired an appraisal that said the land is worth $1.495 million.
But the owner, CNL APF Partners, hired an appraiser that said the land is worth $1.946 million, the documents say.
Wend Vail sued the owner, citing breach of contract. It also sued the landowner’s appraisers, saying the appraisal was wrong. The lawsuit is now in U.S. District Court.
Gary S. Cohen, a lawyer for Wend Vail, declined comment. CNL APF Partners could not be reached.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.