Developer eyes health, wellness in Vail Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS – A proposed mixed-use development for property just next to the 72-acre Eagle River Preserve would feature health and wellness facilities, residential units and retail shops – a place the developer said would provide a lot of public benefit to the community.
The development, Eagle River Meadows, has gone through eight reviews with the Eagle County Planning Commission before it reached the Eagle County commissioners on Tuesday in the first of many public meetings during the county’s review. The Planning Commission recommended the county commissioners approve the project with 27 conditions.
Development on the land, located on an old gravel mine site, would include 380 residential units, 261,000 square feet of medical and wellness space, commercial and office space and 68 acres of open space and recreation areas. The property is located right next to the Eagle River Preserve, a piece of open space that the county and private partners bought for $12 million about five years ago.
The plan, which is still in early stages in terms of the design details, would try to capitalize on the health and wellness trend to give the valley a third leg to its real estate and resort-based economy, said Lance Badger, of the Edwards-based Atira Group, the project’s applicant.
Health and wellness includes anything from acupuncture to yoga to nutrition to medical practice, depending on who you ask. The town of Vail and the Vail Local Marketing District’s quest to capitalize on the trend has defined health and wellness as improving health and a sense of physical well-being, specifically through outdoor activity.
Eagle River Meadows also proposes 380 residential units, as well as retail such as a coffee shop, sandwich shop and a pharmacy that would support the development, Badger said.
The Eagle County commissioners listened to about three hours of information about the application and generally agreed that many more details needed attention, such as how sustainable the health and wellness aspects are, why the density is so high and, especially, how the development would affect local traffic patterns. The neighboring Eagle River Preserve is also a topic of debate.
The Vail Valley Foundation is the first local group to oppose the development that would be located right next to the Eagle River Preserve, a property the foundation helped buy with the county in 2005.
Ceil Folz and Harry Frampton, president and chairman of the Vail Valley Foundation, respectively, sent a letter to the Eagle County commissioners stating the organization’s opposition Tuesday, specifically citing the bridge that would cross the Eagle River and connect the north and south sides of the development as the most concerning.
“The Vail Valley Foundation and the 1,200 Eagle County citizens who worked side by side with the county (to purchase the preserve) cannot support an interruption of this extraordinary piece of land and stretch of the river,” stated the letter.
Badger said he knew of three Vail Valley Foundation board members with no opposition, but Folz clarified that the nine-member executive committee unanimously opposes the development.
Badger assured the commissioners that the sensitivity surrounding the development of this land was heightened because of the neighboring preserve.
The next hearing, scheduled for June 8 at Battle Mountain High School, would address more of the traffic and transportation concerns, said county planner Scot Hunn. That meeting would also presumingly gather more public support or opposition for the proposal.
The health and wellness facilities are something commissioners agree have potential but would need more of an anchor to make them viable, said Commissioner Jon Stavney.
Stavney said he’d like to learn more about what exactly the wellness and lifestyle spaces would entail.
Commissioner Peter Runyon also questioned the viability of health and wellness facilities.
A couple of doctors who want to rent office space is a long way away from someone who wants to start a 100,000 square-foot clinic for medical tourism, Runyon said.
“What is the real driver in producing this medical wellness center,” Runyon said.
The project has to conform with several master plans, including the Eagle County Comprehensive Plan, the Edwards Area Community Plan, the Eagle County Open Space Plan and the Eagle River Watershed Plan. The project also needs to meet Eagle County land use regulations for planned unit developments and site development standards.
If the project gets approval in the current sketch plan process, the applicant could then submit a preliminary plan to the county for approval.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com.