A new vision for Gypsum’s long-stalled Tower Center development | VailDaily.com

A new vision for Gypsum’s long-stalled Tower Center development

New proposal nixes 517,000 square feet of commercial space in favor of 511 residential units

This graphic from the new Tower Center project shows the site location in comparison to other Gypsum landmarks.
Special to the Daily

When the 74-acre Town Center property was annexed into the town of Gypsum in 2006, it was earmarked as large commercial tract. Large, as in the type of site where big box stores could land.

In the 15 years that have passed since that action, things have changed not only in the valley but in the nation as a whole. One of the biggest changes is dwindling big box store expansion. That has spurred the property developers to approach Gypsum officials with a new vision for their land.

Next week, members of the Gypsum Town Council will hear from Tower Center representatives about their new concept for the property. This new sketch plan features a different type of development — one with a larger residential component and a reduced, but still sizable, commercial core.

“Back in 2006 it was a different world and a different economy, and the Tower Center was going to be a heavily concentrated commercial development,” Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann said. “All that has changed, and all those changes mean the market can’t support what was proposed.”

The applicant for the revised project concept is the Urban Investment Research Corp., a real estate company involved in the construction and management of commercial and residential projects. The land is owned by Eagle County Land Company LLC, its subsidy company. Braun Associates is the project planner.

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The previously approved plan included 517,000 square feet of commercial space “highlighted by two big box stores, inline retail, pads sites, office space and a hotel.” The plan also included 330 residential units.

The new plan proposes 511 residential units comprised of the following:

  • 47 small single-family home lots
  • 80 townhome units
  • 336 rental apartments
  • 48 residential units located on the second or third story of commercial buildings on the site

The revised proposal includes 176,000 square feet of commercial use. While that is about a fourth of the original commercial scope, it is still a large swath. For comparison, the Eagle City Market store covers approximately 57,000 square feet.

At this point in the approval process, the issue is whether the town will agree to this change in vision. A sketch plan approval does not carry development approval rights. That comes at the next stage when a detailed proposal — that addresses expansive issues such as parking, traffic, open space, community impacts and more — is debated.

Pay its way

As Gypsum considers the revised Tower Center plan, Rietmann said the town wants to preserve as much of the commercial uses as practical. That’s especially true for the high visibility land located along U.S. Highway 6.

“The town is reluctant to add residential development without some commercial component because residential development doesn’t pay its own way,” Rietmann said. He noted the 100,000 square feet of commercial space proposed along the highway could accommodate the type of retailers that downvalley residents desire.

Another change to the Tower Center plan is “aviation uses” called out on the south side of the site. Because its property is located adjacent to the Eagle County Regional Airport, the development team has approached Eagle County to see if there is interest in expansion. The sketch plan notes there are many regulatory and site work issues to be addressed prior to that happening.

“In the event that the town is not interested in aviation uses at Tower Center, or if the county decides not to pursue the idea, the portion of the land area currently shown as the Aviation Planning Area would be converted to additional single-family lots and open space,” the sketch plan notes.

The Tower Center sketch plan public hearing is scheduled for the Tuesday, July 27, Gypsum Town Council meeting. The session begins at 7 p.m. To view the entire agenda as well as the new Tower Center sketch plan, visit TownofGypsum.com.

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