Eagle River Station plan could get a makeover | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Station plan could get a makeover

Sarah Mausolf
Eagle, CO Colorado

EAGLE – Wide open spaces are one of the things Steve Manning likes most about Eagle.

So he would be content if the pasture on the east side of town never gave way to a large development like Eagle River Station.

Never say never, though.

“Development has a way of constantly knocking at the door and eventually wearing down the people who are against it,” said Manning, 64. “Like water on a rock.”

In January, voters squashed a plan to build 552,000 square feet of commercial space with a Target, motel and 581 homes on about 88 acres at the end of Chambers Avenue. However, the plan failed by a narrow margin, and now the developers say they’re considering retooling it and trying again. After all, RED Development still owns the property where the development would have stood.

“They would like to figure out what they are going to do with the land, and what can be done with it,” RED spokesman Paul Witt said.

To that end, the developers envision a series of community meeting to find out why people felt the way they did about Eagle River Station, he said. Developers haven’t set dates for the meetings yet but they hope to get them started by the end of the year, Witt said.

It seems developers are searching for a sweet spot: A plan that’s palatable to the elusive Eagle voters.

Eagle resident Mark Miceli, a 27-year-old building contractor, has been skeptical of the project because he fears developers would outsource the work.

If developers could prove they would hire local contractors, that would help to change people’s minds, he said.

“That would be huge,” Miceli said. “It would show the local people it’s something positive for the community. It’s locals making money locally that could be spent locally.”

Eagle attorney Ed Sands said developers could include a clause pledging to hire local contractors in an agreement with the town.

Along with promising to hire local, Miceli said it would help if developers reworked the plan to include green building materials and solar panels.

Rick Messmer, a broker for Prudential Colorado Properties in Eagle, said the development needs to be much smaller than originally proposed. He voted against Eagle River Station, but supports the general idea of commercial development on the land. His main gripe with the plan was the large swaths of pavement.

“I want to see more green space, where if a family goes there and only one family member needs to shop, the others can hang out in a park,” he said.

Messmer said the developers also need a better plan for handling the trash, oil and antifreeze that could potentially flow from the parking lot into the Eagle River.

“It was just too big of a plan overall,” he said.

Several other people said Eagle residents might be more receptive to a large development if the economy rebounds.

Eagle resident Bernie Cooper, 58, said he voted against Eagle River Station largely because he thought the timing was wrong.

“You can drive around Eagle Ranch and see every third or fourth home is for sale,” he said. “Real estate is really flat right now.”

Eagle Ranch residents Debbie and John Novak said they voted for Eagle River Station because they thought it would promote local shopping and bring tax revenue to fix Eagle’s infrastructure.

They said more residents might be willing to accept the project if developers can prove they will hire local contractors and scratch some of the housing.

“Bringing on board more housing when we don’t need it demographically, at this point, is hard for people to swallow,” Debbie Novak said.

For some opponents of the project, like Castle Peak resident Karen Oberlohr, there’s simply nothing the developers can do to make Eagle River Station acceptable.

“We didn’t move here to live in suburbia,” she said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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