Housing keeping Eagle Co. kids from home?
EAGLE COUNTY Eric Eves wants to build 24 townhomes in Eagle that young professionals like himself could buy. Each two-bedroom townhome at the Wilson Lofts would go for less than $400,000 if the town of Eagle approves the development, he said. Theres really no other opportunity out there for young adults to buy homes, said Eves, a 27-year-old land developer for Red Mountain Land in Vail. Like other people who grew up in the Vail Valley, Eves left to go to college and has decided to come back and settle here.Yet he acknowledges the difficulty of returning to a place where the cost of living, namely housing, prevents many from doing so. Theres a real risk of having a gap in our community of young professionals (not) being able to stay in the valley long-term, he said. That already has happened Minturn, said Michael Gallagher, a 34-year Minturn resident. Three out of four of Gallaghers sons have moved away from Minturn. They were all raised mountain men and now theyre living on the plains, Gallagher said.
Minturn used to be a place where neighbors would watch one anothers children, Gallagher said. Im I guess like a lot of older folks lamenting what was and is no more, Gallagher said. But like Eves, many locals have been able to return because they found good jobs here.Joe Hanlons parents moved to Vail in the mid 1960s. He grew up in Vail, went to Cornell University in New York and afterward, produced sporting events for ABC. Now he lives in Vail and works for Beaver Creek-based Gravity Television & Sports Marketing. But before he got that job he had to be flexible, working several jobs, including one at his familys travel agency. Its very difficult to find a career that can support the cost of living, Hanlon said. Andy Kaufmans daughter, Mallory, grew up in the Vail Valley and is going to Occidental College in Los Angeles. Kaufman, owner of Minturn Saloon, does not know whether she will return to live here. He wants Mallory to do whats best for her, but it would be nice if she moved back to the Vail Valley, he said. Why arent we as a community doing more to attract them back? Kaufman said. They know the valley better than anybody.
Eves thinks its common to return to the valley. Many of his friends work for other friends families in the Vail Valley when they return from college, he said. Elizabeth Eves, Erics younger sister, is surprised by how many of her friends have moved back to the Vail Valley. She returned after graduating from Colorado State University, she said. I think theres quite a few and I think its growing, she said. Still, she is nervous about being able to afford a home in the future. It kind of is nerve-wracking, she said. The county needs more affordable housing developments like Miller Ranch in Edwards to provide opportunities for families to live here, said Gallagher, who voted to approve Miller Ranch when he was a county commissioner. But the housing market determines whether people will buy or rent, he said. To have a solution requires that you have control, and I dont believe we have control, Gallagher said.The county indirectly provides ways to make it easier for locals to buy affordable housing, said Alex Potente, acting housing director for the county. Through a points system, people who have lived in Eagle County more years get priority for affordable housing at Miller Ranch, Potente said. That point system will not apply during the first round of sales of affordable homes at the recently approved West End project in Edwards. At first, Gateway Land and Development will sell them, Potente said. When the homes turnover and are resold by the county, West End will use the Miller Ranch point system, he said. West End will have 72 affordable homes with studios starting at $158,000 and one-bedroom homes starting at $181,000.
Eric Eves credits his close connections with locals to his success in the valley, he said. During college at Colorado State University, Eves did internships with Red Mountain Land and was hired after he graduated. If you do stay here long enough in the valley, the valley kind of takes care of its own, Eves said.Buck Elliott, owner of Paragon Guides, said that he is glad that one of his three children have returned to live in the Vail Valley. His youngest daughter is in college. His oldest daughter lives in Seattle and is a management consultant. Shes done very well outside the valley, he said.Elliott has never encouraged any of his children to settle here, he said.We learn perspective by putting ourselves out there, he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynnvaildaily.com.
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