Not ideal but necessary, council says
AVON – People riding up the gondola, enjoying a cup of coffee on the terrace of the new hotel, playing in the new park – these elements of the so-called Riverfront Village development aren’t here yet, but they’re one step closer to becoming a reality.After more than an hour behind closed doors ironing out the details, the Avon Town Council gave preliminary approval to Riverside Village, a development of shops, restaurants and hotel rooms almost a year-and-a-half in the making. It’s not a green light to start building the complex along the Eagle River, but it’s a step in the right direction for the developers.”Obviously, we’re pleased,” said East West Partners’ Chuck Madison. “I think the council made a very informed decision based on reams and reams of studies and data.”
Having spoken to the council about the development many times, among the public improvements the development will bring to the community are an improved bike path and 5.68-acre park, which will be given to the city, public restrooms and plaza, Madison said. East West Partners plans to put about $23 million into the project, and asked Avon for help – in the form of $2.5 million in tax breaks and $857,000 – to build two railroad crossings that will connect the village to downtown Avon. The developer also asked Avon to contribute money annually for maintaining the grounds and running the gondola that would run from the village to the Lower Beaver Creek Express lift. Even though Councilman Mac McDevitt voted in favor of the development, he said he was concerned the gondola would create, “a very weak portal to Beaver Creek.”Although the project continues to have its skeptics, most who spoke during public comment urged the council to approve the plans. “We need it so badly,” said Ruth Borne, a former Avon town planner. “You’re not going to have this opportunity again. I urge you to reconsider and strongly look at what this means for us. Here we are. It’s taken years. Look how far the town’s gone.”
Former councilman Mike Brown said he supports the project even though it isn’t ideal.”It needs to move forward as quickly as possible,” he said. Others, including Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate broker Brian Woodell, said Riverfront Village will and has already started to increase property values. But the council still has to give final approval to the development. The town will then review the development’s designs, said Avon senior planner Eric Heidemann. If all goes well, East West Partners could break ground in the spring, but it may take longer.
“I think the project as a whole … is stupendous. I don’t even know what to say” said Councilwoman Tamra Nottingham Underwood.Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado