Vail housing project gets planning board approval

Residences at Main Vail will be 72 units, at least 144 beds

Here’s the latest artist’s rendering, right, of the Residences at Main Vail. The existing Middle Creek Village apartments are on the left.
Town of Vail/Special to the Daily

The Residences at Main Vail project passed an important milestone May 10, with several more to do.

The project, a partnership between the town of Vail and Triumph Development, is proposed for 72 deed-restricted rental units near the existing Middle Creek Village apartments. That town-owned site is currently occupied by the Children’s Garden of Learning. That facility is moving this year to a new site just to the southeast of the Lionshead parking structure.

The Residences at Main Vail project is the result of town officials seeking an alternative to building housing at the Booth Heights property, just north of the East Vail Interstate 70 interchange. The search for alternatives first included Vail Resorts, which owns the Booth Heights property. Triumph once had a purchase contract for the property, and guided the housing proposal through a controversial approval process.

Triumph in late 2020 canceled that contract, and Vail Resorts in December of 2020 announced it was “pausing” its participation in the three-way talks. In January of this year, Vail Resorts stated its continued desire to build on the controversial East Vail parcel.

That left the town and Triumph to hash out a deal for a Booth Heights alternative.

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That process culminated in an early March agreement that started the process for Triumph to build at the site near the Middle Creek apartments, with the town paying the cost of the approval.

After three meetings with the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission, that board May 10 approved the project on a 5-1 vote, with board member Brian Gillette dissenting.

Approvals from that board are binding, unless there’s a citizen or applicant appeal, or if a majority of the council wants to take up the application.

What’s next?

The next step for the project is approval from the Vail Design Review Board.

Vail Housing Director George Ruther said the project has already had one look from that board, adding that the project will get its first serious look at the board’s first meeting in June, set for June 2.

Triumph Chief Operating Officer Michael O’Connor said he expects that process will take a couple of design review meetings, if not more.

The clock is ticking on the agreement between the town and Triumph, though. That agreement calls for the town approval process to be done by June 28.

The agreement also calls for groundbreaking at the site in September, with completion targeted for November of 2022.

O’Connor acknowledged there’s a lot of uncertainty in the construction business right now, but added that the project so far “has hit all the milestones we set.”

Hitting those approval milestones puts the project “in a position to be successful,” O’Connor said. “We’re controlling what risks we can.”

That requires coming to the office every day with a “sense of urgency,” O’Connor said, adding that stumbling blocks have to overcome as they arise.

More details to determine

The fact that construction companies everywhere are working at or near full capacity may affect whether or not Triumph uses factory-built elements in the project. That’s still being determined, although O’Connor said manufacturing facilities are also running full-tilt.

Both Ruther and O’Connor said they’re excited about the Residences at Main Vail project.

O’Connor noted that the project is handy to both resort villages, and is on a main town bus route.

Ruther said this project is a good example of a public-private partnership.

“We were able to efficiently and effectively get a project through the town’s (approval) process,” Ruther said.

The goal for both entities is to add housing stock to Vail.

Ruther said he frequently receives calls about the real estate market, both locally and elsewhere. The answer is simple, but not easy, he said: “Increasing the supply of housing available to local residents.” The Residences at Main Vail will do that, Ruther added.

“This is what a public private partnership should be,” O’Connor said. “Every brings their assets and expertise to the table.”

What’s the agreement?

The town of Vail is paying to move the project through its approval process.

Triumph Development will build a minimum of 144 beds of deed-restricted housing on the site now occupied by the Children’s Garden of Learning.

Groundbreaking is set for September of this year.

Occupancy is expected by November, 2022.

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