Mixed feelings on Eagle-Vail makeover | VailDaily.com

Mixed feelings on Eagle-Vail makeover

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” When Route 6 Cafe owner Ollie Holdstock looks out the front of the restaurant, he sees a parking lot, U.S. Highway 6, and beyond that, a strip of businesses “but he likes the view, he said.

“It’s unique,” he said, gesturing toward the unlandscaped patches of grass outside the cafe. “I like the funkiness of this place. We don’t have industrial spots in Vail, and I think this whole strip adds a nice balance to the valley.”

But not everyone feels that way.

The county hopes to work on redevelopment with businesses and land owners on the Eagle-Vail business strip. County commissioners and county planners said they would like to see the mostly one-story mish-mash of restaurants, furniture stores, auto and tire stores, and offices become a mixed-use development.

The county envisions a mix of denser workforce housing, retail and businesses focused on the river and laid out in a pedestrian-friendly way, said community development director Keith Montag.

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The idea was reinforced by a panel of housing and land-use experts from the Urban Land Institute last week. The panel did a study of the Eagle-Vail residential area, but said that the business area could be a good commercial and housing opportunity with recreation paths along the river.

The panel also suggested building a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 70 to connect Eagle-Vail’s residential and business centers. The recommendations are in line with what the county is trying to do not only in Eagle-Vail, but in other development projects, said Alex Potente, director of county housing and development.

“This vindicates many of the policies that we’re trying ” smaller, denser homes, and less cars,” he said.

Some Eagle-Vail business owners said they would want to be a part of a new Eagle-Vail.

“This is the perfect location for mixed-use housing, commercial and rentals. Rentals and employee housing is what we need. It would be ideal by the river,” said Paddy’s owner Ralph Dockery.

A redeveloped Eagle-Vail might bring more cars past the restaurant too. Dockery said he noticed a slowdown in traffic after the Eagle-Vail I-70 interchange was built.

Bringing affordable homes and rentals to the area would help his employees, too, he said.

“I say let’s do it. Get those developers in here!” he said.

The area could use a facelift, agreed Christine Young, who works at the Eden florist shop.

“It’s antiquated, and it could be beautiful with the river. We’re the only one’s along the river who don’t have a path,” she said.

The riverfront could be better utilized, said Sweet Pea Designs owner Kurt Anderson. His flower shop is located on the north side of the strip, and when he looks out the back window, all he sees are dirt plows and what used to be a parking lot.

“I’d like to see this refurbished. The building is over 30 years old,” he said.

Ritzy Recalls owner Gail Kennedy said that while business for her resale shop has stayed pretty much the same over her 19 years at the location, she welcomes anything that would bring more people to the strip.

However, she worries about the impacts of more development on traffic.

“I worry about too much housing. I know we need it, but we’d also need more ramps to ease the congestion,” she said.

Others, like Holdstock, were less excited at the thought of a development similar to Edward’s Riverwalk in Eagle-Vail.

For him, a new Eagle-Vail wouldn’t necessarily mean more business, but probably less parking and more crowded buildings.

“We’re locally supported. People know that we’re here,” he said. “When are they going to stop? It’s all becoming overbuilt.”

Bruce Kelly, owner of Pedal Power, said that along with redevelopment might come spikes in rent or taxes.

Also, many businesses would probably be out of a spot ” even fixtures like his bike shop, which has been in Eagle-Vail for 16 years.

“If you redevelop something, that pretty much means we’re out of business for that time, and we probably won’t stick around,” he said. “Many businesses might not come back.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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