Edwards RiverPark: 594 units proposed at former B&B gravel pit site | VailDaily.com

Edwards RiverPark: 594 units proposed at former B&B gravel pit site

Developers promise $4 million new roundabout at Lake Creek Road and U.S. Highway 6

Edwards RiverPark by the numbers

  • 53: Total acres
  • 31: Open space acres
  • 594: Total units
  • 182: Hotel/condo units
  • 222: Condominium units
  • 122: Multi-family rental units
  • 41: Townhomes
  • 27: Single family homes
  • 1,600: Building-contained parking spaces
  • $4 million: Anticipated cost of new roundabout at Lake Creek Road and U.S. Highway 6

EDWARDS — A formal development plan for a 53-acre parcel of the former B&B gravel pit in Edwards is now in the hands of Eagle County planners.

And so begins a review process for the Edwards RiverPark. First county staff will offer its comments on the project followed by public hearings before the Eagle County Planning Commission. The review will culminate with a final decision from the Eagle County commissioners. Taking all that into consideration, the development team for the project is hopeful that actual construction will commence by 2020.

Edwards RiverPark is a multi-use proposal that includes 594 units of various housing types, a hotel/condo building, retail space, structured parking and new community amenities. It also includes construction of a new $4 million roundabout at the intersection of Lake Creek Road and U.S. Highway 6.

Donald D. MacKenzie of UpStream Development believes the Edwards RiverPark development represents the proverbial highest and best use of the land.

“The first thing we did was to look at all the challenges with this site and design a project that addresses community needs,” MacKenzie said.

Those challenges include traffic issues, housing needs, site conditions, and Eagle River protections.

Bring on a roundabout

Existing and future traffic at U.S. Highway 6 and Lake Creek Road is already an issue in Edwards. MacKenzie said his project would actually help solve it.

“We have proposed a major roundabout at Lake Creek Road. That’s something that is already in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s plan,” he said. “We certainly don’t dispute the need for that roundabout.”

MacKenzie said the estimated $4 million roundabout would be built during the first stage of the project’s development. The new roundabout will be the main entry to the Edwards River Park site, but MacKenzie said its impact will reach beyond the project and affect the entire Edwards community.

He noted the roundabout is expected to ease traffic, provide a much-needed westbound turnaround option and allow for easy westbound traffic from Lake Creek Road and improve the level of service at the intersection.

“This roundabout will also be an important part of an overall future Edwards road and roundabout system,” MacKenzie said.

He added that Edwards RiverPark would fully fund the Lake Creek roundabout construction, even though the estimated impact from the project is anticipated to be just 21 percent of the traffic at the intersection by the year 2040.

“This is a public benefit that equates to approximately $4 million that would have otherwise been a taxpayer burden,” MacKenzie said. “This allows Eagle County, CDOT and Edwards Metro District to focus on other traffic-related issues elsewhere on the corridor.”

In its development application, Edwards RiverPark is proposing that its road impact fees, which would total less than the $4 million roundabout cost, be applied to the roundabout project.

Affordable Housing alternative

Price caps are not part of the Edwards RiverPark for-sale housing plan. But the development has proposed a unique method to address Eagle County’s workforce housing need.

There are a total of 594 units planned at Edwards RiverPark. There are 182 units proposed for the condo/hotel and 122 multi-family rental units. The remaining 290 units are for-sale properties.

The Edwards RiverPark has proposed a resident-occupied deed restriction for all of the for-sale units at the project, but exceptions can be made at a cost to the buyer. A 1 percent real estate transfer fee will be imposed on units not sold to a member of the local workforce with the proceeds going to the Eagle County Housing and Development Authority. The intent is to have the authority use that money as a sustainable revenue source to fund its housing programs including down payment assistance, construction of workforce housing units at other locations and participation with private housing projects.

MacKenzie said, estimating that 75 percent of unit sales will be to non-residents during the first eight years of the project, Edwards RiverPark could generate $7.8 million for county housing programs.

“This will have a positive effect,” he said. “This new revenue stream will revitalize the Eagle County housing effort.”

In a hole

Because of the property’s history as a gravel mine, much of the developable land lies significantly lower than U.S. Highway 6 to the south. That’s an advantage, MacKenzie said.

Because of the lower grade at Edwards RiverPark site, all of the parking for the project — 1,600 total spaces — is contained within buildings. MacKenzie noted that would reduce the visual and environmental impact of surface parking lots.

There is a lot of parking proposed at Edwards RiverPark, in part because of the proposed condo/hotel and retail space at the site. MacKenzie noted the condo/hotel would be ideally situated for people who are visiting the valley as medical tourists. Additionally, he noted there are new community amenities planned at the site, most notably an outdoor amphitheater that would feature 250 covered seats and capacity for a total of 500 to 600 people.

MacKenzie predicted the amphitheater, which is positioned to feature a backdrop view of the Eagle River, would become one of the most popular wedding venues in the valley.

“Our goal here is to have a situation where, rain or shine, you can run a successful wedding,” MacKenzie said.

Within the development itself, the core area that includes the hotel/condo building, multi-family housing and retail space, some buildings will stretch to five-story heights. But from U.S. Highway 6, only the top two or three stories will be visible. Additionally, the building massing will provide visual corridors looking north.

“We want Edward RiverPark to set the example of sustainable planning principles by using the significant grade challenges caused by the mining operation to nestle buildings into the site, placing development in already disturbed areas while protecting and enhancing the Eagle River riparian area,” MacKenzie said.

River protection

More than 31 acres of the 53-acre Edwards RiverPark site will be set aside as open space. MacKenzie noted that access to the Eagle River will be limited to specifically designated areas and public access will be limited to a proposed boardwalk system.

“This riparian area of the property was left generally undisturbed by mining activity over the last few decades and is important for healthy watersheds and ecological functions along with providing critical wildlife habitat,” MacKenzie said.

He said Edwards RiverPark has discussed its plans with representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the project has proposed a .2 percent real estate transfer fee — similar to the fee currently imposed at the Eagle Ranch subdivision — to finance wildlife mitigation.

MacKenzie added that other local entities would see a financial boon with the development of Edwards RiverPark.

“The project is expected to generate $5.9 million annually to Eagle County, Edwards Metro District and other taxing entities after $14 million in one-time fees,” he said. “In the first eight years of the project, it is expected to generate a total of $39 million in revenues to the community.”

“The recently adopted Edwards Area Community Plan recommends mixed-use development of this site and also encourages lodging development and higher residential densities within this area of Edwards,” he continued.

All of those recommendations are reflected in the Edwards RiverPark design, along with other site-specific proposals MacKenzie said.

“We think there are a lot of reasons for this project to be successful,” he concluded.