‘Energy,’ ‘elephant’ meet at Crossroads
VAIL – Big projects draw big crowds, so it’s a good thing there were extra chairs set up in the Vail Town Council chambers Tuesday night.The crowd was on hand to hear the council’s first review of developer Peter Noble’s plans for the Crossroads property on East Meadow Drive. Noble has proposed a 648,000-square-foot commercial/residential project at the site. The Vail Planning and Environmental Commission recently recommended that the Town Council deny the application, citing, among other things, its sheer size, including a maximum height of 107 feet at one point on the south side. That would make it the tallest building in Vail.The proposal includes retail and restaurant space, a theater, perhaps a bowling alley and arcade, an outdoor ice rink, and 76 condominiums. It also includes multiple levels of underground parking.Noble has claimed the entertainment and, perhaps, lower rents available in his building would be among the public benefits. The town planning staff has argued otherwise.In his presentation to the council, town planner Warren Campbell summed up by saying the public benefits the complex offers aren’t outweighed by the deviations from town code Noble is seeking.
The plan has already been changed significantly, said Dominic Mauriello, a planner for the developer. In his presentation, Mauriello compared Crossroads with the Vail Plaza Hotel – now under construction on the old Vail Village Inn site – and the Four Seasons that will replace the Vail Chateau.Crossroads has less square footage above ground than either of those projects, Mauriello said, adding that portions of the building have been reduced in height by as much as 28 feet.During the public comment portion of the session, residents were split on the benefits of the project. Those in favor of the project spoke of giving Vail a spark.”This project is about positive energy, and that’s what Vail needs right now,” said Paul Ferzacca, owner of La Tour restaurant in the village.Others spoke about bringing new activities to Vail.”This is the kind of amenity you need,” said Scott Rutherford, a part-time resident from Pacific Palisades, Calif. “We’ve been talking about retiring here, but my kids say Vail’s boring.”
Others, though, were leery of the plan.”I saw the pictures today,” said resident Roberta Scheller. “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, that plaza looks like the ice rink in front of the Hyatt in Beaver Creek.’ I don’t want to live in that kind of town.”Gallery owner Bill Ray said “smaller and nicer” is what he wants to see replace the old Crossroads. “It’s a giant elephant in our midst,” Ray said. Others said they favor redevelopment but were concerned about the scale of the project.”There has to be a way to make it work on both sides,” Elaine Kelton said.The council’s first look at the project was the start of a process that’s going to take some time.
“I hope by the end of some day, we can get our arms around this and come up with something the community supports,” Councilman Farrow Hitt said. While Hitt acknowledged the opposition to the plan, he said, “I think this has an opportunity to do something for the town.”After sending Noble and planning staff back to work on size, architectural and employee housing issues, as well as more clear definitions of the public benefits, the council will get another look at the project within the next several weeks.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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