Developer offers to help open space effort |

Developer offers to help open space effort

Tamara Miller

EDWARDS – The developer for one of the last available parcels in Edwards has offered to help a community effort to preserve part of the parcel as open space. Community Concepts, a development company, has offered $6 million toward the $12 million fund-raising effort to preserve as open space part of a 185-acre parcel known as the Eaton Ranch, which is south of Interstate 70 on both sides of the Eagle River.The offer comes just days after the Vail Valley Foundation announced it had a one-year, $12 million purchase option on the eastern part of the parcel, about 72 acres, which the organization hopes to preserve as open space. B&B Excavating currently operates on part of the site. The foundation has made a $25,000 down payment on the parcel and has the next year to raise the rest of the money. “The foundation needs to be commended for that,” said Rick Hermes of Community Concepts “It’s a bold move.”Community Concepts has a purchase contract on about 110 acres of on the western part of the parcel. Foundation officials are reportedly considering the offer after being presented with it Friday morning. Foundation director Ceil Folz was not available for comment Friday afternoon. Board member Harry Frampton also could not be reached for comment.Don Cohen, president of the Berry Creek Metropolitan District, said he sees a lot to like about the proposal.”At first blush, without getting into the details, I think it’s an opportunity to actually get something right done in the valley,” he said. Community Concepts’ proposal exchanges some riverfront property for a chunk of land on Eaton Ranch’s southeast side, which borders an Edwards commercial area. The plan would expand the proposed open space and will increase Eagle River access from a half-mile to one mile. It also will cut in half the amount of money needed to complete the foundation’s deal. “It’s an opportunity to do something that we didn’t think was possible,” Hermes said. “We are not fund raisers.”The proposal would designate part of the open space as “active.” meaning there could be some recreation development on that parcel. Trails, access to the river for kayaking or boating, and perhaps a natural science school could be on that site, Hermes said. The remainder of the open space would be “passive” and could not be developed.The residential development would be on the south part of the parcel, closest to U.S. Highway 6. Hermes said the homes built there would be priced for local residents and would likely include a mix of homes affordable for a variety of incomes. “We don’t want it to be high-density housing,” he said. There is no plan to draw “big box” retailers to the commercial neighborhood. Hermes said he’d like to put a natural-food grocery store there, but one roughly half the size of a Safeway. Plans also are for local, regional and national retailers, but ones with shops that are similar in size to those already open in Edwards.”This is my backyard, too, and I don’t think big boxes belong in Edwards,” he said. Rumors about the future of that site have been floating around for months. The developer’s current proposal is much smaller than many people thought it would be, Cohen said. Anything to bring open space – and some money to help purchase it – would be a good opportunity, he said. “I think it’s a responsible trade-off and I think we, as a community, need to look at this as an option,” he said. “It made good sense at just first hearing, but the devil is in the details.”Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or Daily

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