Vail has near-term options for housing
Timber Ridge rebuild is at the top of the list
Nothing is easy when it comes to creating workforce housing in Vail. But town officials believe they have ideas that could bring some significant help over the next few years.
With the 72-unit, 144-bed Residences at Main Vail now on track, officials are looking at other options on either town-owned land or property the town could acquire. The Vail Town Council on Tuesday received an update on those ideas from Town Manager Scott Robson and Community Development Department Director Matt Gennett.
Next on the town’s to-do list is redevelopment of the old Timber Ridge apartment complex. The town purchased the 10-acre site in 2003. After years of trying to find a developer for the eastern portion of the property, the Lions Ridge apartments started construction in 2014 and were finished the next year.
The problem is that the 113-unit Lions Ridge project was just a unit-for-unit replacement of that portion of Timber Ridge.
That won’t happen with the western portion of the property, which now has 98 units.
Town officials believe the property could hold somewhere between 215 and 225 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
The problem — the same problem facing every other idea — is the price tag. Current estimates put the cost of that project at roughly $70 million.
While council member Kevin Foley is advocating for at least some for-sale units on the property, it’s almost certain that some kind of project at Timber Ridge will start work in the near future.
At this point, other options, while doable, are less certain.
There’s been talk for some time about building another 80 to 100 units at the town’s public works campus, on the north side of Interstate 70 roughly across from the Vail Golf Club.
There’s space there, but any project at that site would require significant improvements to the frontage road, as well as expanding the existing, relatively narrow underpass beneath the interstate.
The town’s municipal building campus could add 50 to 60 units but would have to be part of a broader approach involving the town’s “civic area,” which includes the Vail Public Library, Dobson Ice Arena and the Lionshead parking structure. Putting housing at the municipal office campus would probably require some sort of public-private partnership, as would the rest of the ideas for the civic area.
The south façade of the Lionshead parking structure could also be used for housing.
Moving east, the Colorado Department of Transportation owns a roughly 1.8-acre site on Spruce Way. That parcel could hold between eight and 10 units.
Another parcel in East Vail, a town-owned property on Black Gore Drive, could hold up to four dwelling units.
Gennett noted that a new master plan for West Vail, which covers both commercial and residential areas, could provide developers with the opportunity to build housing as the area modernizes.
All of the above ideas could start work within the next five years, Gennett said.
Paying for it
While the Timber Ridge replacement has the highest currently identified price estimate, Mayor Dave Chapin noted that the “numbers are frightening” for just those possible projects in town. “It’s become clear it’s going to take some financial wherewithal to get to some of these.”
A proposed 0.5% sales tax increase, which Vail voters are being asked to approve this fall, could provide some of the needed funding. The Vail Reinvestment Authority — established to help fund improvements in the Lionshead area — is collecting taxes until 2030. That’s another potential $40 million or so.
Robson noted that public-private partnerships would be needed for many of the currently identified projects.
Still, this might be the time to act.
Council member Jenn Bruno said while a number of people in town have long had a “passion” for housing, the rest of the community may be catching up.
“It’s at a critical phase right now,” Bruno said. We’re going to need the community behind us.”
98: Current units at the Timber Ridge apartments.
225: Possible number of Timber Ridge units after redevelopment.
100: Possible number of new housing units at the town’s public works campus.
$70 million: Estimated cost of Timber Ridge redevelopment.