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Crossroads indeed is too big

Diana Donovan

I have been dismayed by the misrepresentations and the manipulation of facts on behalf of the Crossroads project. The orchestrated letter writing, Tipsline and Vail Daily commentary avoid the issues and divide the community with false statements and accusations. For example, I have never said I was against the redevelopment of Crossroads and I have not heard a single person say they were. I am against a redevelopment that ignores the laws of Vail. Crossroads can easily be redeveloped within the laws of Vail and still have a bowling alley and theater, and make the developer tens of millions of dollars. I also have found no one who remembers seeing the word Crossroads on the November ballot. The most talked about issue by the supporters of Crossroads is whether they will have a bowling alley and a movie theater. They are guaranteed at this moment through a legal agreement with the town. However, any council at any time can easily change that agreement. I have seen it done at the request of the developer who convinces the council that it does not make economic sense. Neither of these amenities makes financial sense today except as an amenity for the development.The value of the plaza as a public gathering space and as a space for special events has potential value to the community. The developer would have you believe that he decided to provide a plaza for the community to bring the community back to Vail, and everything else is designed around that goal. In fact, the plaza results from the developer’s desire, as expressed personally to me, to build a condo project where every unit has a view. There are real problems, which have not been addressed, concerning its success as a gathering place for large groups. The other buildings in the neighborhood have not agreed to have concerts there, and I assume it will be like the village with guests and businesses complaining about noise and blocked entries. There are also other issues that have not been discussed.The commentary in the Daily on April 8 screams, “Master plan guided Crossroads redo.” The problem is that it ignored the law. None of the documents quoted are law. They are meant to serve as guides when applying the law. The law is the underlying zoning, and it is ignored. I have been told that the developer did not want to use the proper path of rezoning because that could be forced to a public vote. He did not believe that a special development district could be subjected to the referendum process. Height has an easy answer – although the developer, Don Rogers, Kaye Ferry and Dominic Mauriello cannot seem to accurately state it. Below are the maximum heights allowed or approved in the following projects as stated in Town of Vail documents:n Four Seasons: 89 feet.n Vail Plaza: 75 feet (height of the main ridge that is now visible).n Lionshead: 82.5 feet (includes Arrabelle and the Ritz).n Crossroads: 99.9 feet.Additionally, the staff memo to the Planning and Environmental Commission dated Jan. 23 makes the following statements:n Page 19: “Staff believes that the proposed height will set a new precedence as it will be taller than any building in town.”n Page 20: At the approximate old location of Haagen- Daz, “The ridge is now 56 feet above grade which is six feet taller than the actual height of the One Willow Bridge project from the grade of East Meadow Drive.”n Page 31: “It is true that this proposal will set a new precedence for height (99.9feet).”n Page 37: “The applicant is proposing to construct an eigh-story structure (six stories of residential on top of and set back from the base two stories of commercial).” n Page 37: “The applicant is proposing to utilize an 11-foot, 6-inch floor plates in place of the established 11-foot floorplate.” Floor plates were 9 feet until raised to 11 feet in 2005.n Page 23: “The proposed Crossroads project has a greater density than the constructed or proposed neighboring properties and more GRFA.” Generally, GRFA is the residential condo space.n Page 18: “More than 50 percent of the total building floor would be GRFA.” The Vail Village Master Plan Conceptual Building Height Plan indicates five to six stories for the Frontage Road half of the Crossroads site and three to four stories on the East Meadow Drive half. “A building story height is defined as 9 feet of height (no roof included). Exact height restrictions will be determined by zoning).” Zoning dictates 38 feet. Another contributing factor to the height is that the architecture is vertical rather than the typical horizontal lines in Vail. When you view Crossroads from the plaza, you will see nine stories (just count a vertical row of windows) with no obvious breaks. When watching the Vail Plaza go up it, was easy to see the many roof lines that break up the height before it gets to the actual ridge line. That is lacking on Crossroads. While on council I saw a rendering that indicated that while standing on International Bridge and looking toward Crossroads, nothing but sky would be visible above it. Because it is uphill from the roundabout and uphill from East Meadow Drive (Village Center Road has a 10 percent grade) it will appear even taller than its official 99.9 feet. The building will tower over you while standing in the plaza because even the guidelines for pedestrian scale and comfortable human spaces are being ignored. Architectural projections do not count as height in Vail. They also are not allowed to have GRFA or, to put it another way, directly make money. They are meant to add architectural interest, provide focal points and almost become architectural art. Generally, they take the form of a tower or steeple.The developer’s memo of Dec. 12, 2005, has several statements that conflict with statements made in the forums mentioned at the beginning of this letter.n Page 10: “The design is characterized as a forward-looking expression of European alpine heritage and more contemporary forms.” Earlier memos also included the term “urban.”n Page 12: “The owner of Crossroads will utilize the surplus spaces provided on-site as part of a parking club where parking spaces will be leased and/sold. It is anticipated that owners within the building will purchase additional parking spaces as well as other owners of property within the area. As currently planned the parking club will utilize all of the parking not required for the planned uses on the site.” Although the developer has one intention, the council has directed him to come back with a plan that includes some pure public parking for people that are not his customers.n Page 13: “The maximum number of loading spaces that the regulations require is five loading berths. The proposed plan provides five formal loading berths and opportunity for one additional UPS-style loading spaces within the porte cochere.” The developer will allow other businesses to use his docks when it doesn’t interfere with his use. He is not building anything extra for the public.n Page 15: “The bulk of the open areas on the site are high quality hardscape areas rather than landscaped areas.” All of the guiding documents encourage more green space. This is definitely an urban landscape. If you look at renderings of the landscaping and notice property lines, a large amount of landscaping and sidewalks is on town of Vail property. It will be maintained by the developer, but it is not his land. His land is taken up with building and plaza.n Page 18: “Some of the public art improvements may be in the form of other streetscape improvements already indicated in the public improvement plan (i.e., paver material and design, benches, water features, light fixtures, etc.). The applicant proposes to fund at least $1.1 million in public art improvements.” The point is that this is not necessarily art as is commonly thought but includes the above list in parenthesis which could easily use most of the art budget. The architectural drawings dated Dec. 12, 2005, show one women’s toilet and one men’s in the lowest level of the garage labeled as “public restrooms.” At the plaza level, but in the garage, three toilets are labeled “women’s restroom” and three labeled “men’s restroom.” Sinks are also indicated. I assume these are also “public restrooms,” but if these are the only ones, it seems very minimal for a project this size. Of course, the theater and restaurants have facilities, but other commercial spaces do not.On page 13 of the Vail Village Master Plan, goal No. 1 states “Encourage high quality redevelopment while preserving the unique architectural scale of the village in order to sustain its sense of community and identity.” This is a guideline that is ignored.Employee housing has been an important point in other discussions as have hotel rooms. And hotel beds are critical for the destination guests and our retail spaces.Four Seasons has 122 hotel rooms, 19 fractional fee units (like hotel rooms) and 28 employee units housing 56 employees on site.Vail Plaza has 99 hotel rooms, 50 fractional-fee units and 18 employee unitsaccommodating twice that number of employees on site.Crossroads has no hotel rooms and 12 employee beds off site.Crossroads has stated they will attempt to rent their condos as “hotels,” but the best hoteliers in Vail will tell you Crossroads is clearly not in the hotel business.It is not hysteria to say this height could be built on Bridge Street. I have personally heard three supporters of Crossroads say that it would not bother them.A quick response to a couple items on the mailed PR piece that I have not covered. Sonnenalp, Arrabelle and One Willow Bridge did NOT use the SDD process and none of the SDDs have the degree of deviation from underlying zoning that Crossroads does. The chart has no meaning in Vail. Comparing hotel units to condo units is not a measure of anything. The components of this development are first and foremost necessary for the success of this development. They are the amenities that will sell the condos. Delivery vehicles will still be on Village Center Road and East Meadow Drive as they access the garages at Village Center, Austria Haus, Talisman and the loading docks at One Willow Bridge. I have tried to correct misinformation seen in the paper and in the proponent’s collateral, and there is more correcting of information that should be done. The length of this letter shows the extent of the misrepresentation and I could write pages more of facts. If this is such a great project why does the developer find it necessary to manipulate the facts? Why has he chosen not to recognize the rules/laws of Vail that all of the major redevelopments to date have complied with? Why should any developer recognize the laws of Vail following this gross preferential treatment of Crossroads and Mr. Knobel?Diana Donovan served two terms on the Vail Town Council.Vail, Colorado


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