Vail, CDOT working on deal for East Vail land |

Vail, CDOT working on deal for East Vail land

Deal could create just more than an acre for housing

This sketch shows an idea for potential housing on just more than acre in East Vail. That property is now owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Town of Vail/Courtesy image

There isn’t much vacant land left in Vail, but there are a few small pieces here and there. One of those pieces, owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation, is a possible site for workforce housing.

Town and state officials have been talking about the site for some time, but the ideas are starting to gel.

There are actually three parcels straddling Columbine Drive, at the foot of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70. Speaking to the Vail Town Council Nov. 2, Vail Housing Director George Ruther said the town and state were once talking about roughly 1.8 acres of land. The parcel is now about 1.2 acres because state transportation officials need the rest for I-70 improvements. Some of that land is needed for open space and possible riparian protection along Bighorn Creek, leaving just more than an acre available for building.

Ruther said the town has contracted with Boulder-based 359 Design, which has helped with other projects in Vail.

That firm has laid out some initial designs for possible housing on the property. All of that housing would be deed-restricted for people who work in Vail and Eagle County.

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One sketch shows a townhome development of 18 units. Another shows a 24-unit mix of townhomes and “flat” style condos. A third drawing shows a 36-unit, three-story complex of all flats.

But any possible project will start with the town and the transportation department coming to an agreement on price. The town will have to pay fair market price for the property, as determined by independent appraisals.

Ruther said the town and transportation department had been talking about a ballpark figure of roughly $2.5 million. But, he added, that price was based on the town acquiring the entire 1.8 acres of land. With more than a half-acre off the table, the price should come down a bit, he said.

In addition, the town needs to reach out to all the other taxing entities that include the land. Ruther added that Colorado law requires the state to be given the right of first refusal to buy any land disposed of by its agencies. Ruther said the state is willing to forego that if the land to be sold is used for housing.

While there’s no action on the immediate horizon, Ruther added that the process is “moving as quickly as we can make it go.”

Council member Jenn Bruno said the discussions are “a great way to show housing and open space can coexist,” adding she hopes the incoming Town Council — four members will be seated Dec. 7 — continues the project.

“I walk my dog there,” Council member Brian Stockmar said, adding that his view is the location is “highly workable.” But, Stockmar added, the council should look closely at density on the parcels as well as potential impacts on Bighorn Creek.

By the numbers

1.2 acres: Land area of three East Vail parcels owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation

13%: Area designated for protection of the riparian area in Bighorn Creek.

36: Possible deed-restricted condos in a three-story building.

$2.5 million: High end of possible cost.

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