Proposed mtn hive development is weeks away from public hearings but it’s already the talk of Edwards
Co-living concept, open space issues and other concerns are generating robust debate regarding proposal
EDWARDS — The mtn hive project in Edwards hasn’t even had its first public hearing before the Eagle County Planning Commission, but the proposal has already generated 123 pages of public comment, a robust social media debate, an online opposition petition and a website from critics of the project.
Mtn hive is a proposal from local developer Remonov and Company for a co-living project planned on a hillside located south of the Edwards Corner building. The proposal calls for 260 to 270 single- and double-occupancy apartments featuring three unit types. The fully furnished individual units will range in size from 180 square feet to 300 square feet — including a bathroom and small kitchen space, along with a living area that will convert to a bedroom when a Murphy bed is pulled down from a wall.
While the individual units are small, the Remonov team says residents will also have access to a number of on-site amenities including a fitness center, bike and ski storage, central lounges, a game room, working nooks, a mini-market, event space, library, on-site laundry, a catering style kitchen and bike- and car-sharing programs.
The project has netted attention from many area residents and has been under Eagle County Planning staff review since it was submitted last fall for sketch plan approval, a zoning change and a “comprehensive plan exception.” The majority of the written public comments sent to the county to date oppose the development and cite concerns with traffic, density, land-use history and the character of the development.
“I feel this dense, dorm-like project does not fit into the central core of Edwards,” stated resident Sharon Stenson.
One of the most consistently-cited issues with the mtn hive plan relates to development character and affordability. Monthly rental rates at mtn hive are expected to range from $1,500 to $2,100.
“Those prices are estimates and the prices are difficult to say as to what they are going to be. We try to estimate on the high side,” said Makenzie Mueller of Remonov and Company.
“It isn’t just the private space people are playing for,” Mueller continued. She noted the monthly rental price includes utilities and access to the amenities at mtn hive as well as weekly community events that range from social evenings to networking opportunities.
“We are also intending to master lease to local businesses and we are hoping to provide a tool for business to have a positive impact on their ability to provide housing to their employees,” Mueller said. “We want to give businesses the ability to better attract and retain talent.”
But many locals are unconvinced that the co-living model is right for the valley.
“The hive is not affordable,” stated Edwards resident Penny LoFaro. “The hive is being promoted as an answer to employee housing for Eagle County but a 180 square foot unit will cost approximately $1,500 a month and will run the tenant $18,000 per year.”
“I think it is morally wrong to build a place called “the hive” with the model that local employees will live in such a restricted and confined space and be gouged to paying such a premium price for rent,” said Edwards resident Frank Valece. “ I know the county is eager to find solutions to our housing crisis but it is your responsibility to find the right solution, not just any old solution.”
“This proposed ‘worker housing’ is not the fit this county needs for its workers. We can, and should, use our space more responsibly while strictly following building codes set forth by the county,” said Edwards resident Stephen Miller.
The public comment contributions also include some mtn hive supporters, but they are in the minority.
“I think that The Hive provides a wonderful solution to our valley’s housing deficiency,” said valley resident Leala King. “Co-living is sustainable and builds community. People choose to live where they can feel connected to others, and with The Hive’s potential location these people can be close to restaurants, shops, entertainment, and the outdoors.”
“The Mtn Hive project will bring a proven concept that will benefit many people who can’t afford the high home prices, in a location that is central in Eagle County,” said Mike Teestwuide. “I believe this unique concept will open the doors back up to young professionals who grew up in the valley but had to leave due to high rent. Additionally, I like that this development is downtown Edwards in a location that already been developed.”
Another contentious issue regarding the mtn hive application relates to its historic use. The tract — identified as Tract T in the Edwards land use map — is zoned commercial general. However, for years the Eagle County Assessor has taxed the parcel as open space.
The plat note for Tract T calls out several designations for the property including open space, a recreation center and vehicular access. The mtn hive proposal deviates from those uses, opponents argue.
“This is not the first-time home the owners of Tract T have requested to build an enormous building on Tract T, even though restricted plat notes have been in place since they purchased Tract T,” said LoFaro. She quoted a 2007 Vail Daily article by Melanie Wong that in turn quoted Bob Warner, the original Homestead developer.
“It’s normal on commercial land to provide buffers for open space,” said Warner in that 2007 article. “Just because a zone is commercial doesn’t mean you should build on 100 percent of it. The land was intended for ‘non-structure recreation.’”
The plat note issue will be one of the issues the county addresses in its review of the project and Remonov representatives dispute the idea that the note represents binding open space zoning for the property.
“We understand people see the site as open space but under current designation, it is not,” Mueller responded. “Never has it ever been public open space. It is private property.”
She likened the assessor designation of the property as open space to instances when agriculture or resource zoning is applied to property prior to development.
“Taxes often change to correspond with new development,” Mueller said.
Mueller noted that mtn hive is still several weeks away from scheduled public hearings and the plan is still being revised in response to suggestions from the public and from county staff.
“I think that development in this valley is pretty difficult and it seems like it’s that way for any project, no matter where it is proposed,” she noted. To learn more about the co-living concept, she recommended residents visit the website for a project called The Collective, located in London.
With regard to mtn hive, Mueller added that said the social media response to the project has been challenging. “It’s something that is really difficult to respond to,” she said. “I do think there is a lot of misinformation out there.”
Mueller said Remonov representatives are willing to meet with residents to field questions or discuss concerns. The development team can be reached at email@example.com.
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