Eagle County Schools to revisit planning for Maloit Park housing project
The Minturn site has the potential for up to 150 units of employee housing
In 2019, Eagle County Schools pulled back on an effort to develop plans for employee housing at Maloit Park in Minturn. Now, it is making plans to revisit the opportunity, which could bring up to 150 new units of employee housing to the site.
Maloit Park is currently home to Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, 15 mobile home units for district employees as well as Nordic skiing trails, hiking trails, open space and wetlands.
The nearly 85-acre site was annexed into the town of Minturn in 2011, with approximately 46 acres zoned for residential and mixed use. Just over 18 acres were dedicated to the town for development of a water treatment site, and nearly 40 acres were designated as open space for preserving wildlife, wetlands and more
Tom Braun, a local planner and developer acting as a consultant for the school district, presented on the site’s history and future potential to the Board of Education last Wednesday. Braun was engaged with the Maloit Park project back in 2019 and has served as a consultant for the district for nearly 20 years. Recently, he has worked with the district on its 2020 Employee Housing Master Plan and the Edwards employee housing site that broke ground last week.
In 2019, Braun said the district “took a run at developing Maloit Park.” This included engaging a development planner, establishing principals and parameters for the project, conducting employee surveys and more.
However, these discussions and any movement on the plan ended “for all kinds of different reasons,” he said. One being the board wanted to establish a housing master plan first.
Michelle Stecher, the current board president, was on the board back in 2019 and said at the March 23 meeting that the board had wanted to “get our feet wet with these relatively smaller developments” before diving into a massive project with as much potential as Maloit Park has.
Now, the district’s Land Resource Committee has recommended that it might be time to re-evaluate the Maloit Park housing opportunity, as the district has made recent progress on its housing goals. This includes the Edwards employee housing project and its partnership with Habitat for Humanity on housing in Gypsum and Eagle.
“With those projects starting to take form, we shifted back to having some conversations about Maloit Park,” Braun said.
Since 2019, Braun said that he and Sandy Farrell, the district’s chief operating officer, have continued to have periodic conversations with the town of Minturn about the site.
“The town staff remains very positive about the future development of housing at Maloit Park. They’re very excited about notion of it being a workforce, locals housing community and not a bunch of trophy homes,” Braun said.
While there are still a lot of details for the school district to work out with regard to development of the site — including gauging employee interest in the site, contemplating partnerships and collaboration with other community organizations as well as figuring out a way to fund the project — the housing potential on the site is well established.
“We know it’s an extremely appealing site. We know the development potential is established with that annexation agreement with the town. We know we have a need and that need is not going to go away,” Braun said. “And we know that we really want to control the project and maintain our asset and use it very wisely for the benefit of not only the community, but our staff.”
In conceptual developments plans presented by Braun, the site holds the possibility of a variety of housing types — from apartments and condominiums to single-family homes and townhomes — to get to the 150-unit number. Braun also established that the site plan would have to integrate with the natural environment of the site and meet the housing needs of district staff, including affordability and attainability.
At last week’s school board meeting, the board expressed its support for following through on the Land Resource Committee’s recommendation to further define and understand the housing opportunity at Maloit Park.
Following this show of support, Braun said he and Farrell would initiate more conversations with the town, reach out to the current district employees that live at Maloit Park, confirm the approach with its legal counsel, define costs to engage consultants and come back to the board with a budget proposal and a schedule for next steps.
For the housing project itself, forming a project team of consultants — including consultants for land planning, civil engineering, landscape and site design, traffic, legal, surveying and more — would allow the district to prepare a development plan for the town of Minturn to review. Once the district has an approved plan it can begin moving forward with plans to develop the property.
“We need to more clearly define the project and establish our right to do it so we know more precisely what the opportunity is that we have, as opposed to just 150 units out at Maloit Park,” Braun said.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.