Funding slows Vail Timber Ridge overhaul
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – There have been many delays in the construction of a new and improved Timber Ridge – the town’s largest employee housing complex – including building material choices, rockfall hazards, and now, delays with financing.
Darren Woody, of Texas-based C.F. Jordan Construction Services and the managing partner of Vail Timber Ridge LLC, the developer, said in a statement through his assistant Wednesday that Vail Timber Ridge LLC is still committed to the project and that it’s still moving forward.
Vail Community Development Director George Ruther said the developer is awaiting financing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which has been overloaded with loan applications from around the country.
“HUD financing is one of the more attractive, available forms of financing today for developers,” Ruther said. “A lot of people are competing for the same pool of financing dollars.”
The anticipation is that Vail Timber Ridge LLC will get HUD approval, Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler told the Vail Town Council Tuesday, but Ruther said the financing terms are likely going to look different than expected.
Once financing is secured, the developer “has the opportunity to make a decision on whether they’re advancing the project forward,” Ruther said.
The new Timber Ridge development would include the demolition of the eastern portion of the 10-acre Timber Ridge complex. The old, tired buildings would be replaced with 360 employee housing units, a five-story parking garage, clubhouse and fitness center at the tune of about $60 million. Eventually, the western portion of the complex would get redeveloped, too.
As of April 2010, Woody expected construction to begin by the spring of 2011. The town of Vail then said last winter that the hillside behind Timber Ridge is one of the town’s high severity rockfall hazard zones, based on a town of Vail map of official hazards.
The Vail Town Council told the town staff in early February to move forward with a plan that would anchor down large rocks and boulders. The project was estimated to cost between $70,000 to $100,000, which the town of Vail is responsible for paying. The developer would be responsible for half of the cost of the evaluations and designs for that project, according to the town of Vail.
Turns out the hillside belongs to several homeowners within the Briar Patch Homeowners Association, which is why the town of Vail is now in the process of buying about 3.6 acres of land from the association for $280,000, Ruther said.
The money is coming out of the town of Vail’s real estate transfer tax fund.
Vail Timber Ridge LLC has already gotten through the town’s Planning and Environmental Commission approval process and the town’s Design Review Board approval process. Ruther said there are just a couple of minor conditions of approval that have to be addressed, including the rockfall work.
“Once those issues are addressed, then the developer can submit for a building permit,” Ruther said.
The delays have caused concern for some Vail Town Council members who want to see the project through to completion. The town of Vail bought the Timber Ridge complex for $20 million in 2003 in order to preserve the property’s deed-restricted employee housing designation, and the town’s intention has always been to see that the property gets redeveloped.
When Councilwoman Margaret Rogers heard last week that the developer might be facing financing troubles, she was concerned.
“I certainly didn’t like hearing that,” Rogers said.
The town established the Timber Ridge Affordable Housing Corporation to operate and manage the property, and that corporation is the entity that also holds the outstanding debt on the property.
The town of Vail has looked at several proposals for redeveloping Timber Ridge in recent years, including a $107 million proposal in 2008 from Texas-based Open Hospitality Group/Hillwood Capital, and a Vail Resorts proposal in 2007.
The Vail Timber Ridge LLC project would take about 17 months to build, but Ruther isn’t sure how quickly construction would begin once building permits are issued. Woody was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for further comment.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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