Grass-roofed mall opens, but no grass
AVON – Brent Merten’s kids are wondering if there will be goats atop the new Traer Creek Plaza in Avon.”It’s a joke,” said Merten, of Eagle. “There’s grass on the roof. We’re from Wisconsin and there is a famous restaurant there with a grass roof. And they actually have goats on the roof to keep it trim.”There will be no goats; nor will there be any lawn maintenance workers pacing the roof of the new horse-shoe shaped edifice across from Wal-Mart and Home Depot in Avon. The sod is actually made of sedum, an easy-to-maintain bean sprout-like material. It’s meant to be the crowning jewel of the certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building. While its had some trouble taking root, the roof ought to be growing by this spring, said Mike Paquette, a spokesperson for Traer Creek.”I think it could be a good draw for Avon,” said Paisley Frischholz of Eagle-Vail. “It’s definitely an interesting building and I think people might be curious and go in to check it out.”As people have “checked out” the building over the last month, they would have seen it slowly transforming. Four retailers have opened up shop there – Swiss Hot Dog, which relocated from Lionshead in Vail; Village Warehouse Wines; Game Stop and Challenge Outfitters.Ernst Larese, who lives in Eagle-Vail and owns Swiss Hot Dog, said he expects that his big move from Vail to Avon will prove profitable.”The off-season is too long,” Larese said of Vail. “You go broke. This will go all year round.”Larese’s Swiss Hot Dog was something of an institution in Vail, where it was in business nearly 14 years. Larese has an order book filled with addresses from around the world and comments like, “Swiss Hot Dog is why we come to Vail.””It’s the spice,” Larese said. “It’s addictive.” Larese has lived in the valley 39 years. He’s Italian, but grew up in Germany. So why is his shop called the Swiss Hot Dog?”Because it kind of rhymes,” Larese said, smirking a little.Just then, a man walked into the new store and spotted Larese.”You finally got open, huh?” said Rich Seth of Vail. “It’s about time.” Larese was forced out of his Lionshead location more than a year ago and was out of business for 18 months while he waited for Traer Creek Plaza to be deemed inhabitable.”Eighteen months with no income,” Larese said. “But I know a round building is hard to build.”Construction hold-ups delayed the opening of the building nearly a year.”The sign in the window there kept changing,” said Pete Cuccia of Edwards. He’s a part-owner of Village Warehouse Wines. “‘Opening Fall, 2005.’ ‘Opening Spring, 2006.’ We finally opened Oct. 6. We’re just now going into our first holiday season and we could have been going into our second. That would have helped a lot.”Beyond the sod roof and the round shape of the building, architects had to contend with a cable-supported roof that shifts with the weight of winter snow. That, in turn, impacted the way the all glass walls were engineered, according to a press release from Traer Creek.Now that some of the shops are opening up, people are discovering them. “Today is going to be twice better than last Monday,” Larese said early Monday afternoon. “I can already tell.”Cuccia said he’s seen steady business in the liquor store and he expects its proximity to Wal-Mart and Home Depot to make Traer Creek Plaza a high-traffic shopping area.”More and more people are coming in every day,” Cuccia said.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO
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