Eagle County School District gets one step closer to bringing more housing to Maloit Park

The board of education gave its approval for the first development plans to be submitted to the town of Minturn

Eagle County School District is preparing to submit applications to the town of Minturn, representing a formal step toward bringing up to 138 units of housing to the site.
Eagle County School District/Courtesy Photo

Eagle County School District is forging ahead with its plans to bring up to 138 units of housing to Maloit Park in Minturn.

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the district’s board of education gave its unanimous approval for the project to begin the town of Minturn’s development review and public process.

Tom Braun, a local planner and developer who is representing the school district on the project, presented the most recent development plans for the site. Braun told the board they were “on the cusp” of submitting the development plan and beginning the formal application process with the town of Minturn, expecting official submittal to occur the week of Oct. 2.

Maloit Park is a nearly 85-acre site that was annexed into the town of Minturn in 2011. The development agreement reached at the time zoned 46 acres of the parcel for residential and mixed-use, with the remaining portions being dedicated to the town’s water treatment site (18 acres) and open space preservation (nearly 40 acres).

The school district owns the site, which is currently home to Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, 15 mobile home units occupied by district employees as well as Nordic skiing trails, hiking trails, open space and wetlands.

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With this zoning, the district has long eyed the site for a potential workforce housing development. The site was identified in the school district’s 2020 Employee Housing Master Plan as a priority site to build workforce housing. The site is denoted in the plan as having “both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenges,” seeing as it has the potential for 138 units of housing, but has site-related constraints.

The district pulled back on its initial planning efforts at the Minturn site in 2019 but began revisiting the opportunity in 2022. Since then, the district has pushed forward on the entitlement process for the site, with the board approving a $258,000 budget to initiate the process in November 2022. This work has included coordinating with the town, going through background planning and site work, schematic design, development drawings and more.

The planning process also included a survey of staff to gauge their interest in a housing project at Maloit Park. The survey, which was conducted in May 2023, indicated that there was “significant interest” from employees in the site, so long as the district can ensure affordability.

On Wednesday, Braun presented the most recent plans for the site, which have been guided by six overarching principles. This includes providing “affordable and attainable” housing, providing a “variety of housing types,” creating a livable and walkable community at the site, being “sensitive” to the site’s natural environment, integrating the housing with the site’s existing uses, and making the project fiscally responsible for the district and its taxpayers.

As currently contemplated, the project’s plan would bring 138 units of housing. This includes 38 duplexes, 52 townhomes and 48 condo units.
Eagle County School District, Braun Associates/Courtesy Photo

As currently contemplated, the development plan includes 138 units of housing. This includes 38 duplexes, 52 townhomes and 48 condo units.

While a lot of the plan is the same as it was in 2019, Braun commented that the site plan has begun to favor duplexes and townhomes over single-family homes, which had been contemplated at one time. All single-family lots have been “dropped” from the plan as of now.

“In talking to construction people — project managers — they’ve indicated that the cost to build a single-family home is 20% to 25% more than doing half of a duplex unit. We basically said, ‘We can’t afford single-family homes, let’s do duplexes to address affordability.’ We added more townhomes to the plan for that same reason,” Braun said.

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All of these housing units are being contemplated for the northern portion of the 46-acre piece zoned for housing. Braun commented that there are numerous reasons for this including it will minimize the amount of land disturbed by new development, it will leave room for the site’s existing school and community uses, and the ease of providing utilities and road access to the housing.

While no official determination has been made, the plan does include the potential for phasing of the project, in large part to ensure that the current employees who live at the site are not displaced during development.

Currently, Braun said they are planning to indicate to Minturn that it envisions the project to be 100% for workforce housing in the initial submittals; the key word being “envision.”

“That’s our goal … We aren’t committing to that 100% because we want to have the flexibility to maybe convey a development site to a developer, take those revenues and further subsidize our cost to develop housing for our teachers,” he said. “We don’t want to close the door to that, but our intention is a workforce community.

Braun also reported some “not great news” and “good news” with regard to the site’s available water resources.

The “not great news” is that the town’s recently completed water storage tank on the site is not high enough on the creek to provide adequate pressure to service the homes at Maloit Park, which was originally the district’s plan, Braun said. However, the good news is the district can use the existing tank up the hill for these needs.

It does leave one dilemma that the district has worked through with Minturn, Braun said. In order to serve the fire suppression needs on the site, the district will have to construct a separate pressure system to “be turned on and create the pressure we would need to fight a fire and meet the needs of the fire district to do so.”

This, while a solution and the best option, will have a “significant cost,” Braun added.

While a lot of unknowns still remain to be worked out on the project, the submittal to Minturn represents the next formal step for the school district.

“The proposed application to the town — we’re not proposing any buildings yet. The application is strictly to divide the property into development sites and lots and right-of-ways for roads. The property is zoned for the development that we’re proposing,” Braun said. “This step with the town is not asking, ‘Can we have this development?’ It’s really sharing with the town here’s how we can do it, here’s where the water and sewer lines work, here’s how the roads are going to work, and that sort of thing.”

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