Is Evergreen Lodge in Vail next to redevelop?
What about that land trade?
The Evergreen Lodge and Vail Valley Medical Center continue to work on a land exchange. In brief, that exchange, first proposed in 2014, would give the medical center more access to South Frontage Road, an enable moving a proposed helipad farther to the west. In return, the lodge would get a small parcel near and along Middle Creek, roughly on the west side of the medical center’s current surface parking lot.
A town-owned portion of the parking lot wouldn’t be affected.
Tom Braun, a planner for the medical center, said a letter of intent regarding the exchange could be finalized in the next several weeks.
VAIL — There’s no schedule yet, or even a formal plan for town officials to consider, but Evergreen Lodge owner Peter Knobel is taking the first steps toward redeveloping the 1970s-vintage hotel.
When a development plan is submitted — and again, there’s no firm timeline for that proposal — the lodge would probably replace its 128 existing hotel rooms with the same number of new, but smaller, rooms. The 19 existing condominium units would be replaced with 85 or more new condominium units to the property, as well as underground parking.
Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said building smaller hotel rooms in favor of larger public spaces is a growing trend in the international lodging industry.
But before Knobel’s team can submit a formal proposal, the town needs to make some changes to a master plan that guides development in the Lionshead area. That plan has been amended several times during the past 15 years or so and has cleared the way for several projects completed over the past decade.
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While the Vail Town Council has the ultimate responsibility to make changes to the plan, the proposal has already passed muster with the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. After four meetings on the subject, that board recently passed the proposed changes by a 7-0 vote.
Council member Dick Cleveland has been on the planning commission the past couple of years before his Nov. 3 election to the Town Council. At the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Cleveland told the rest of the council that the planning board believes the final proposal is a good one.
Still, there are questions about what the loosely-defined proposal might look like.
Council member Kim Langmaid said she’d like to see more information about how the possible project might affect Middle Creek.
“I would like a more detailed look at how to enhance (the creek’s environment), rather than further diminish it,” Langmaid said.
Longtime Meadow Drive resident Merv Lapin also had questions about the idea’s impacts on the creek, and he urged the council to approve a plan that has “as minimal effect as possible” on the stream.
Lapin also said that the proposed condo building seems too tall — perhaps as high as nine stories at its peak — and encouraged town officials to think about the redevelopment plan to come after this one, even though that could be decades in the future.
“I’m asking you to look ahead,” Lapin said, suggesting that redevelopment plans that include 85 condo owners can become very complex.
Council member Greg Moffet suggested that Knobel work with the medical center on an idea to provide access to both the hospital and the hotel through the proposed underground parking.
“If this is done well, it will augment Vail as a surgical destination,” Moffet said. “It can fill hotel rooms when we could really use it, in May and October.”
The council delayed formal action on the plan changes until the group’s Dec. 15 meeting. The changes proposed by the planning commission are likely to be approved, at least mostly.
Noting that the town, medical center and Knobel are working largely in concert right now, Mayor Dave Chapin encouraged the involved parties to keep up the good work.
“If we can continue this way, we can get it right,” Chapin said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.