Eagle-Vail deserves a downtown | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail deserves a downtown

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyEmory Kozusko, 6 jumps into the water Thrusday at the Eagle-Vail swimming pool.

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” In the future, Eagle-Vail residents could walk on a trail to a neighborhood “downtown,” grab a sandwich from a deli, pick up their mail from the post office, said land-use and housing experts after a week of studying the neighborhood.

The panel of experts from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute released their findings to the public on Friday and outlined a plan to point Eagle-Vail toward the future. The study was commissioned by Eagle-Vail’s property owners association, metro district and the Eagle County School District.

The Urban Land Institute is a worldwide organization that specializes in land use and housing research and education.

The panel’s recommendations included developing a community center around the current Eagle-Vail Pavilion. An expanded Pavilion and pond would form the center, surrounded by some businesses such as a convenience store, deli or bakery, a small inn, and a post office. The plan also had options for a dog park, a spraypark and an amphitheater.

The community center would also be close to the neighborhood’s new swimming pool, and a pedestrian trail could connect the neighborhood center to the residential area.

The panel suggested that there was room for considerable development in Eagle-Vail, too.

Over the next 10 years, there will be demand for 500 to 600 new homes, and 8,500 square feet of commercial space, the study found.

About 270 of the new homes should be workforce homes selling for about $200,000, the panel suggested.

Eagle-Vail shouldn’t ignore the demand from middle-class families and renters, either.

“The strongest demand is for workforce housing, housing for families with incomes of $50,000 to $150,000,” said the panel’s marketing expert Belinda Sward.

The panel’s golf course resort development expert, Greg Cory, recommended the Eagle-Vail golf course could, with some improvements, be marketed to resort guests.

He said he played a round and found it a quality course, but had to share the sand traps with children building sandcastles and dogs digging holes.

“Right now there’s a conflict between how resort guests expect it to be and how the community uses it,” Cory said.

He also suggested selling the current “outdated” clubhouse, building a new one closer to the community center, and getting rid of the 9-hole course.

Right now the course, which some residents and neighborhood officials had worried was a financial drain, is used by residents for dog-walking, running and other non-golf activities.

The course could also be turned into a cross-country skiing course in the winter for minimal cost, Cory said.

The panel also turned their eyes toward the Eagle-Vail business district, which Eagle County has also considered redeveloping.

The strip of offices and stores along Highway 6 ” home the the Vail Daily’s offices ” could be a mix of homes and businesses centered around the river, the panel said.

The new business area could be connected to the neighborhood by a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 70.

To create the “new Eagle-Vail,” the panel recommended combining the property owners association and metro district into a single “Eagle-Vail board.” Several staff people would also be needed to do event planning and marketing, manage the recreation facilities, and help resolve resident and tenant problems.

“There are so many committed people in this community, but they’re not speaking in one voice,” said panel member Ruth Wuorenma.

Property Owner Association President Jeff Layman said he liked the idea.

“All of us who serve on the two boards are committed to the folks who live here, but our focus can be different. To have one board could create a certain synergy,” he said.

Some residents suggested a ski lift connecting Eagle-Vail to Beaver Creek. Panel members said they entertained the idea, but thought a lift would be too expensive for the near future.

“However, over time it’s probably inevitable. You’ll have the capacity to do it in the future,” said Lorne Bassel, the panel’s resort development expert.

Some residents said they liked the panel’s suggestions and were ready to see the neighborhood change.

“I think it’ll really bring our community together and give us some options,” resident Jennifer Clouatre said. “I’ve lived here for 12 years, and I’m ready to see it move into the next phase.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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