Hotel proposal in Vail draws neighbors’ ire
December 21, 2016
VAIL — There's a lot to recommend a proposal for a new hotel and apartment building in West Vail. But, neighbors say, the project is simply too big.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday took its first official look at a proposal for a Marriott Residence Inn on the West Vail site where the Roost Lodge once stood. After more than two hours of presentations and public comment, the council delayed action on the proposal until its Jan. 3 meeting.
That hotel, torn down in 2014, had 72 rooms on two floors. The new proposal is much, much larger: six floors above ground, with 170 hotel rooms and 113 apartments. Of the apartments, 107 would be deed-restricted and available for rent only to people who work an average of 30 hours per week in Eagle County. The proposal also includes 360 parking spaces.
The proposal would occupy virtually all of the not-quite-2-acre site.
“This isn’t really employee housing, this is resident housing. This is more than 200 of our residents who are now being displaced.”Steve LindstromVail Local Housing Authority
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The project, proposed by Chicago-area developer Peter Dumon, is on its third design and was recently approved by the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission on a 5-2 vote.
The idea for a combination hotel-apartment complex has developed over the past year or so, after Dumon was approached by Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom. At that point, an already-approved plan for just a hotel was a few weeks away from groundbreaking.
Lindstrom told the developer about the plan's housing shortage and asked if there was any way the Roost site could provide some units.
The resulting project has gained support from the town's housing authority, the Vail Chamber & Business Association and the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Several individuals have also written letters of support.
'25 percent too big'
But several of the project's neighbors Tuesday voiced their opposition to the plan.
"The massing is what scares me," longtime resident Susie Tjossem said.
Tjossem, who lives nearby, said the proposal is "fabulous, but it's 25 percent too big." Tjossem suggested breaking the single structure into several smaller buildings.
Wendy Erb lives in a condo roughly behind the proposed building. In a long presentation to the council, Erb acknowledged that progress has been made in the design. But, she said, the project represents "spot development" in a part of town that isn't subject by a master plan to guide development throughout the West Vail area.
Erb and other neighbors urged the town to complete such a plan before approving Dumon's project.
Erb also objected to the sheer number of units on the property, roughly 141 per acre. That figure dwarfs the per-acre figure for a proposed townhome project along Chamonix Lane, roughly behind the fire station in West Vail.
Chris Burns, another neighbor, was blunt in his assessment of the project, saying it "should be denied in this form."
While most of Tuesday's discussion was given to project opponents, supporters also made their voices heard.
Lindstrom told the council that the building could screen other buildings from the interstate. He also noted that the project's proposed LEED certification won't happen without being in its location in the heart of Vail.
"This isn't really employee housing, this is resident housing," Lindstrom said. "This is more than 200 of our residents who are now being displaced."
After the council decided to delay its own discussion on the project, Dumon said he could accept a bit of delay and said he's willing to continue conversations with town officials and residents, but rejected neighbors' calls for drafting a new master plan before proceeding.
"I'd have been under construction with a Residence Inn only without this (proposal)," he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.