Questions arise from Red Mtn. Ranch
Saturday I went to Basalt to flyfish the Frying Pan River. Downtown was bustling with folks enjoying the beautiful day on bikes, shopping on the main street and visiting with one another. Sound too good to be true? Hardly. Basalt has rejuvenated their downtown area with a variety of locally owned retail shops, restaurants and art galleries.Eagle is looking at a large development called Red Mountain Ranch to solve their projected future sales tax shortfalls. As part of an ongoing process, Merv Lapin recently presented to the Town of Eagle his idea of what the design may look like. Large, colorful artist renderings lined the sides of the council chambers.On further study of the drawings some details became apparent. Two entrances were proposed. One from Highway 6 in the form of a roundabout, the other from Chambers Road accessing from the north of the property. Many questions arose from this 450,000 retail center.Question: How do semi-trucks navigate thru the center of the shopping area from these two lane access points? Part of the design has walkways traversing from the parking lots to the various boxes and other ancillary stores? Sounds like the pedestrian problem Avon currently faces.Question: With the main anchor tenant being 150,000 square feet (in comparison Home Depot in Avon is approximately 155,000) and two smaller regional tenants of 20,000 square feet each, leaving approximately 110,000 square feet to be occupied by ancillary tenants.Question: What is going to happen to business on Grand Avenue and Broadway? I sincerely doubt the success of Basalt is going to follow as suggested by the developer. To paraphrase Merv, few folks come to shop in Eagle now, so by adding this development more shoppers will be drawn to town. If this development is not approved at the minimum size requested, he will need to sell off the property piecemeal. Of course the town council should not take this as a threat but what may happen. Shame on you Merv.As a member of the audience this, in fact, did sound menacing. Another comment the developer made, regarding his fiduciary responsibility to his partners, to make as much of a return for them as possible. This is his job as the developer, I understand that. However, I am questioning the size and retail mix of this proposed development.How does this proposed retail development solve the Town of Eagle’s primary concern of expanding a tax revenue base to support future growth?That is the multi-million dollar question right now.One answer is “economic gardening.” This is a successful economic development process employed in rural areas of the state of Colorado and beyond. The main philosophy comes from realizing businesses are biological as much as mechanical. They thrive from the energy of the owners and founders of the business. It is mostly about people: customers and employees. It also depends on the culture of the community, do they embrace entrepreneurial activity? All these components figure into cultivating a successful economic garden.I believe this community is creative, energetic and wants to preserve the benefits of living here.We, as a community, can employ sustainable economic development by thinking outside “The Box.”Currently a Box is all that stands between the Town of Eagle and folks shopping downtown and visiting with one another, as in Basalt. VTLaura Chiappetta is Publisher of The Vail Trail and can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.