Local businesses jump at opportunity to reserve Timber Ridge units
Forty-seven local businesses put down deposits on 141 units of deed-restricted housing
Within a couple of hours, Eagle County businesses reserved most of the units set aside for employers in the upcoming Timber Ridge redevelopment.
“All in all, (it was) a great response to our testing of this proof of concept of the business community’s interest in helping address housing in the town of Vail through purchases of apartments at Timber Ridge,” said George Ruther, the town of Vail’s housing director.
The town of Vail, alongside its Timber Ridge development partner Triumph Development, decided to test this model, which would allow businesses and residents to buy into the project as a way to cut down the estimated $152 million price tag on the redevelopment.
Out of the approximately 288 homes planned for the redevelopment, it was determined in March that around 161 units would be sold to businesses and 87 to individuals. The town will acquire the remaining homes to bolster its own rental inventory.
While the town did an informal reservation process in early March to gauge community interest in this model, it began allowing businesses to put down a $5,000 deposit for specific units starting on Friday, March 24. This was done on a first come, first served basis.
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As of Tuesday, April 4, a total of 141 units were reserved by 47 businesses, and “most of the homes were gone within the first couple of hours of the reservation process being open,” Ruther said.
Of the remaining 20 units set aside for businesses, 9 studios, 10 three-bedroom and 1 four-bedroom home remain available for reservation and purchase by local businesses.
While all of the businesses that put down deposits have a business license to operate in Eagle County, the “vast majority” of the 47 businesses are located in the town of Vail, Ruther reported to council. Some, he added, were businesses with locations both in Vail and down valley, with one or two only having a business down valley.
The reservation process remains open for the final 20 units, with some businesses wanting to join a wait list for the one- and two-bedroom units that have already been accounted for.
“We do intend to reach out to those 47 businesses now that have expressed an interest and put down a $5,000 deposit on those homes to see if they have any interest in any of the remaining homes that we have available to free up as many opportunities for businesses to participate in this process,” Ruther said.
For residents, the opportunity to purchase one of the 87 units set aside in Timber Ridge will come later with a community lottery process, similar to ones the town runs for other deed-restricted units in Vail.
“Like other community lotteries conducted for deed restricted homes purchase, the process will require a complete application, an earnest money deposit, and the demonstrated ability to obtain financing to complete the home purchase,” reads a memo in the April 4 Town Council packet.
The town revised its community housing lottery process in October 2022, with revisions meant to make it more clear and equitable. Now, a typical lottery process in the town will award up to three tickets:
- One ticket for completing the lottery application;
- One ticket for not owning free-market real estate within the town of Vail at the time of the lottery as verified by a signed and sworn affidavit and based on the Eagle County Assessor’s property records; and
- One ticket for having unsuccessfully participated (and not being selected) in a town of Vail housing lottery process
The town has not yet indicated when this lottery process will occur, but did express its intent to reach out to all the individuals who expressed interest through the free reservation system that ran at the beginning of March. Individuals can still express interest through the Triumph Development website.
With this, Ruther said the intent is to afford residents “ample time to participate in a community housing lottery process.”
While the Timber Ridge redevelopment will replace the site’s current 98 deed-restricted homes with around 288 deed-restricted homes, it also means that the nearly 250 current residents will be left without a home as construction begins.
The town and Triumph are targeting a May 1, 2024 construction start on Timber Ridge, with the first homes expected to be ready for occupancy by November 2025.
With the 100% deed restricted, 72-unit Residences at Main Vail opening for occupancy on Sept. 1, 2023, this property has long been identified as an opportunity for some of the current Timber Ridge residents.
At its Tuesday, March 21, Town Council meeting, the Vail Town Council discussed this proposition, including whether to give preference and rent breaks to the Timber Ridge residents at the new Residences property.
The Town Council expressed support for giving these residents the first opportunity to lease at the Residences property, opening up leasing options a month before it opens it to the general public.
However, the council expressed some trepidation about giving a blanket discount on rent to all residents, based on possible implications it could have on its debt repayments.
On Tuesday, April 4, the Town Council supported a new proposal for a needs-based reduction, which would only give Timber Ridge residents a $225 monthly rental discount on a two-bedroom unit if they have an income threshold of 100% of the Area Median Income or less.
This, according to the town’s Deputy Town Manager Kathleen Halloran, would require the town to subsidize “just the first year operations, by approximately $100,000” if everyone qualified, and approximately $18,000 for that first year if nobody qualified.
One of the other previous concerns the Council had with the reduction was the idea that it be continued into perpetuity.
“With the large amount of debt undertaken by the town, Council stated that the town should be diligent in covering expenses and paying down the debt. Staff recommends that rather than a 5% increase per year, residents with a discounted rent would pay an increase of 7% for the second and third years of residence at RMV, and then by the fourth year be paying normal RMV rental rates,” reads a memo on the proposal, which Town Council also expressed support for.
Leases for the Residences at Main Vail are expected to become available by June 1 for Timber Ridge residents.
These 72 units will all be subject to a deed restriction — requiring applicants to work for at least 30 hours per week on average and earn 75% of their income in Eagle County — and are likely to go through a lottery. Additionally, the town is expected to have a three-tiered leasing preference with the following tiers:
- Employed in Vail as an “essential service position such as health care, emergency services, first responders, teachers, early childhood care providers, etc.”
- Employed at the time of lease execution at a business licensed in Vail
- Employed at a business in Eagle County, but outside of Vail
This story was updated on Thursday, April 6 to reflect a new move-in date for Residences at Main Vail of Sept. 1, 2023 and that leases will likely be available to Timber Ridge residences on June 1.