Demand seems strong for Chamonix units
In order to keep affordable units affordable, the town of Vail has strict contractual restrictions on appreciation and re-sales. Those restrictions include:
• A maximum appreciation of 3 percent per year.
• Permitted approval cannot exceed 15 percent of the purchase price in any 10-year period.
• Owners must use restricted units as their primary residence.
• Units are re-sold through the town.
VAIL — The Vail Town Council has spent a lot of time talking about building housing at the Chamonix property in West Vail. On Tuesday, council members heard from some people who might live there.
The Chamonix property, a 3.6-acre parcel roughly behind the West Vail fire station, is widely viewed as the town’s last chance to build housing for long-term local residents. Those long-term residents — ideally, people with families — are seen as future community leaders, people who keep the town vibrant during the months when fewer visitors aren’t around.
But what kind of housing would attract people who want to stay in town? At the moment, officials’ thinking is leaning toward 50 units or so on the site — a small handful of duplexes, along with several townhomes and condominium units. The site could hold more units, but keeping the unit count relatively low provides enough room for parking and storage, things current residents of Vail’s existing affordable housing inventory have said they want.
A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
No decisions have been made on the exact unit mix, what homes will cost or just how much the town will have to subsidize each residence to keep them affordable. Those decisions may have been helped by a Tuesday field trip to some of Summit County’s affordable housing developments.
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Those projects benefit from the relative abundance of land in and near Breckenridge and Frisco, and land is a far more precious commodity in Vail. Still, council members said they liked what they saw, and were especially impressed with the sense of community long-term residents bring to those neighborhoods.
East Vail resident Brian Rodine told the council he and his fiancee have rented in town for the past five years or so. He told the council that the continuity of living alongside other homeowners would be appreciated.
“It would be nicer to see the same faces day-in and day out,” Rodine said.
Rodine told the council that while many of his friends are moving out of Vail, he and his bride-to-be would prefer to stay in town.
“We’re holding on,” Rodine said. “We like our short commute; we like biking and riding buses around town.”
‘IT’S A CHOICE TO LIVE HERE’
Nina Landes told the council that she and her husband have lived in the valley for about 15 years. Both have their names in the town’s housing lottery, which is how the town finds new buyers for existing units that come up for sale. Landes said she and her husband work in the hospitality business and don’t have kids, so she encouraged the council to build at least some two-bedroom units, and to focus on both parking and storage at Chamonix.
Elyse Howard, her husband and their two sons live just outside the Vail town boundaries, in Intermountain. Howard told the council to remember just what they’re selling when it comes time to find buyers for whatever is eventually built.
“Don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s in Vail,” Howard said. “It’s a choice to live here.”
Howard and her family live in a small unit — the boys are in bunk beds — and, while Howard said she’d love to buy a unit at Chamonix, she also worries that if her family sold their small home, it would be scooped up by someone who would either use it as a short-term rental or a vacation home.
Of those who spoke to the council Tuesday, longtime resident and business owner Hermann Staufer offered a different opinion about what the town should build.
Staufer said the town should try to put as many units as possible on the property, selling some to businesses to use as rentals.
Staufer, though, was the only person at the meeting in favor of building as much as the land would hold, with both council members and others favoring something with more of a neighborhood’s feel to it.
That’s something Ali Katz said she’d love to have for her family. Katz, her husband and their two sons live in Edwards now. But, she said, the family spends “every day off” in Vail. Katz said people she talks to in Edwards share that feeling.
“People want to come back to Vail,” Katz said. “We pretend we live in Vail, but we sleep in Edwards.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.