County to debate proposal to turn EagleVail office building into a boarding house
Public hearing for the Warner Workforce Housing Special Use Permit is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m Tuesday
EAGLE — A controversial proposal to convert an EagleVail office building into 35 employee-housing units is slated for a public hearing before the Eagle County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
The commissioners will conduct a site tour of Warner Professional Building No. 2, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Eagle Road in EagleVail, at 3:30 p.m. The public hearing for the Warner Workforce Housing Special Use Permit is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Eagle County Building.
Robert Warner of Warner Properties is the owner and applicant. He has proposed converting the use of Warner Professional Building No. 2, which was constructed in 1976, from commercial office space into a shared living boarding house facility. The use will be contained within the existing 10,000 square foot building, which would be remodeled but not expanded in size, except for entry staircases on either side of the building.
The proposal calls for 30 single-occupancy rooms and five double-occupancy rooms within the existing building. Each unit would be equipped with a microwave, sink, refrigerator and closet. Bathrooms on each floor would be shared, each serving approximately 2.3 rooms. A community room with kitchen facilities and an on-site manager unit would be located on the west side of the middle-level floor.
“It’s a terrific location for workforce housing,” said project planner Rick Pylman of Pylman and Associates. “The office market has changed and the buildings are older. Office users want to be in the core areas now.”
“There is a great opportunity to change the building to workforce housing because it lends itself well to an interior remodel,” Pylman said.
Boarding house living
“Rooms are intended to be master leased in blocks to local businesses for their employees, with no short term rentals allowed,” states the Eagle County staff review of the Warner proposal. “The applicant has included restrictions on rent and pricing to meet the Eagle County Affordable Housing Guidelines.”
“The conversion of the Warner Professional Building No. 2 from office to boarding house is intended to serve a local employee workforce housing need,” states the Warner Workforce Housing application. “The concept is to provide local employers the opportunity to master lease a block or blocks of rooms for seasonal and annual housing for their employees. The building layout works well for master leasing, with opportunity for multiple employers to lease small pods of rooms, an entire floor or perhaps one employer leasing the entire building.”
The project housing plan calls for rental rate caps of 70% area median income for an individual household — $1,152 per month — for the 30 single occupancy rooms and rental caps at 100% of the area median income — $1,645 per month — for the five double-occupancy rooms. There would be a maximum of 42 occupants on-site and short-term leasing or subleasing would be prohibited.
In its review of the plan, Eagle County planning staff recommended approval with conditions for the Warner Workforce Housing special use permit. In a 4-1 vote, members of the Eagle County Planning Commission also recommended approval of the proposal.
The proposal has generated vocal opposition from EagleVail resident who cite numerous concerns, including the project’s conformance with the intent of the EagleVail plan, the introduction of transient use within a family-oriented community and the intensity and density of the proposed use. Neighbors have also protested the potential traffic and parking impacts that would result from the proposed residential density at the site as well as the building’s current and proposed appearance and setbacks.
The Warner Workforce Housing proposal generated 176 pages of written comment, included in the county’s hearing file.
“There are many fine folks who just need a place to live. I get that. But, we must be prudent as to the consequences of what type of housing we provide and where it should be located,” wrote EagleVail resident Larry Stone. “Short-term beds are not what we want in EagleVail.”
“I agree that housing is needed in the valley, but am concerned that since EagleVail isn’t incorporated, there isn’t the diligence nor the restrictions on use and that this could be used as a precedent for other housing conversions,” offered resident Carolyn Ford.
With a key water deal denied, the Battle Mountain developer and the town of Minturn are planning to meet next week to discuss the future of the Bolts Lake property.