Medical campus, housing proposed for Edwards
EDWARDS, Colorado A local developer wants to put medical offices and some housing on the B&B property in Edwards, Colorado, one of the last big pieces of undeveloped land in the unincorporated neighborhood. The Edwards-based Atira Group joined BWAB Incorporated a Denver investment company that owns the property in December to work on a development plan for the 105-acre piece of land and is very close to submitting an application to the county. I think the highest and best use is a medical type of campus, I dont think its commercial and retail like the rest of the Edwards, said Lance Badger, senior development partner with The Atira Group. The land which has been home to a gravel pit is west of the Edwards Spur Road, bordered by both Highway 6 and Interstate 70, and divided by the Eagle River.Badger said hes discussed with the Vail Valley Medical Center which has said it has outgrown its current facilities and has considered moving downvalley about including a possible hospital expansion in the campus, but that they havent made any commitments. John Cassin, president and CEO of the medical center, said its premature for the hospital to commit to one option or piece of land. There is a tremendous amount of speculation about our future, Cassin said. We continue to look at all of our options and I can assure you that our decisions will reflect the best interests of our community.A medical campus is good option for the land regardless of whether the hospital wants to be part of the development, Badger said. This will stand on its own with or without the hospital, he said. A recent study that said Eagle County didnt have enough medical services was one of the reasons Badger said he decided on medical offices for the land. The Vail Valley Medical Center hired a consultant to do the study and has worked with Eagle County officials to make the case that the county is medically underserved. If the county receives the federal designation it would be eligible for federal funds to build a public health center to treat uninsured and underinsured people in the valley. A public health center could also be housed in the medical campus, Badger said. Outpatient offices and other doctors offices are also options for the site. I dont know what the bucket list of things will be, Badger said. There would be several spots the county would consider for a public health center, said Jill Hunsaker, public health manager. Its still early in the process for us in terms of our vision of a community health center, Hunsaker said. It will make the most sense to put a community health center where the population center is. Badgers preliminary plans for the site also include some kind of housing such as affordable or assisted-living homes on a 10- to 12-acre portion of the land near Interstate 70. There would be a bridge crossing the river to connect the houses to the medical offices. Badger said hes considering 350 units, but that the number could be as high as 500.Don Cohen, executive director of the Economic Council of Eagle County, said its good to continue the conversation about what will be built on the site, but questioned whether a medical campus was financially sustainable. Clearly in a very preliminary way they are looking at it the right way and thinking the right things and are respectful of the land and the community, Cohen said. But is it economically viable? I would have said that even in an OK market. Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.