Town of Vail, Triumph forge deal for housing |

Town of Vail, Triumph forge deal for housing

Deal to build 144 beds of deed-restricted housing doesn’t do anything to preserve the Booth Heights property

This draft rendering of Triumph Development’s plan for housing at Middle Creek will almost certainly change as the plan works through the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and the Vail Design Review Board.

The Vail Town Council on Tuesday approved a development agreement with Triumph Development to build workforce housing on a site in the Middle Creek subdivision.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the deal. Council members Brian Stockmar and Kevin Foley dissented, saying they’d like more time to better study the agreement.

The agreement does a few things:

  • The town will pay to move the Middle Creek project through the town’s approval process. That will be the extent of the town’s financial involvement.
  • Triumph will build a minimum of 144 beds of deed-restricted housing on the site currently occupied by the Children’s Garden of Learning.
  • Triumph will agree to not sell or share plans completed during the approval process for housing on the Booth Heights site in East Vail.
  • The Middle Creek site will be open for occupancy by November of 2022.

Nothing on Booth Heights

But the agreement doesn’t do anything to preserve the Booth Heights property. Vail Resorts, which owns that property, in late 2020 pulled out of talks to preserve that land. The company owns the approvals for the property, but not the plans. Those plans belong to Triumph, which had a purchase contract on Booth Heights, but canceled that contract in late 2020.

Vail Resorts in January asserted its continued intent to develop that property. But the council Tuesday rescinded an earlier extension for those approvals based on Vail Resorts’ participation in talks about alternative housing sites. That participation prompted the council in 2020 to extend approvals until Dec. 1, 2024. The new expiration date is Nov. 20, 2023.

Before the council voted, several residents weighed in on the virtual meeting to oppose the agreement.

Resident Blondie Vucich called the agreement a “looming debacle,” saying the town hadn’t received “objective” public input on the deal.

“You must get this agreement 100% correct,” Vucich said.

Resident Lynn Gottlieb said the draft agreement hadn’t been made public with enough time to fully evaluate it.

While the agreement lays out a number of target dates, resident Jonathan Staufer said there’s “no rush” to complete an agreement, adding that “we’re going to get one shot at this.”

While Mayor Dave Chapin said the council would take public comment only on the development agreement, several residents cited the need to find a way preserve Booth Heights from development.

“The reason we’re here is because of Booth Heights,” Staufer said. “One flows into the other.”

What about Vail Resorts?

George Ruther, the town’s housing director, said while Booth Heights was once an integral piece of the town’s efforts to find and develop alternative housing sites, “that’s no longer the case.” Preserving Booth Heights “will have to occur under different means,” Ruther said, adding that the town is “unable to force Vail Resorts to discuss alternative housing sites initiatives.”

While Foley and Stockmar said they wanted more time to evaluate the deal — and were the only council members to vote for Stockmar’s motion to delay possible approval until the March 16 meeting — other council members preferred to act.

“We need housing in this town,” Council member Kim Langmaid said, citing the continuing trend in town toward part-time use of housing units.

The Middle Creek site is a good place for workforce housing, Langmaid added.

While talks have stalled with Vail Resorts, Langmaid said town officials will continue to try to restart those discussions. For now, the agreement “is what it is — a good place for housing for the community.”

The high points

• Triumph development will build at least 144 units of deed-restricted workforce housing on the current site of the Children’s Garden of Learning.

• The project will include alternative energy sources and “multi-modal” transportation options.

• Triumph and the town will work on a deal for Triumph to redevelop the western portion of the Timber Ridge Property.

• Both projects must receive approval from the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and the Vail Design Review Board.

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