Raising the (sod-covered) roof | VailDaily.com

Raising the (sod-covered) roof

Alex Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyThe curved roof will give a distinctive look to the Traer Creek Plaza building, part of the Village at Avon project next to Wal-Mart. The roof will eventually be covered with a type of sod, affording it a layer of natural insulation.

AVON ” It’s getting harder and harder to see the Wal-Mart Supercenter from the roundabout out front. And that’s kind of the idea.

The next phase in the Village at Avon shopping center is starting to take shape, as the rounded roof goes on at the Traer Creek Plaza building. There’s a lot more ” a whole lot more ” to the development, but the next thing people will see is this unusually shaped building.

The 53,000-square-foot structure is configured roughly as a half-circle, and its curved roof will feature a type of sod covering as well as a skylight atrium running the entire length.

“It will obscure the views of Wal-Mart and Home Depot,” said Dan Christopherson, spokesman for Traer Creek, LLC, the company developing the Village at Avon. “The idea was to have big-box stores, but soften the visual impact with lots of trees.”

Using berms and the natural hills around the project while positioning the new building out front was also part of the plan, Christopherson said. When the Plaza building opens ” tentatively scheduled for late October ” it will contain a mix of office and retail space with underground parking.

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The offices, located on the upper floors, will have floor-to-ceiling windows. Below, shops will include a 4,000 square-foot discount liquor store, the popular Marble Slab Creamery ice cream franchise, an organic market, the Swiss Hot Dog, a video game store and a chain restaurant ” among others.

“I think it’ll be pretty cool,” said Dan Leary, manager of the project. “It’s going to be nice to have something different in the area.”

In addition to the Plaza’s unique appearance, Leary said it will also be an environmentally friendly building certified by the U.S. Green Building Council with its “LEED” rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The green-friendly aspects of the building come from the use of recycled projects in construction and irrigation using non-potable or gray water.

The building will also have a sedum sod roof, which provides a natural insulation to lower energy usage. Sedum sod is a short, multi-colored “living carpet” that changes color with the season.

The Village at Avon is the brainchild of developer Magnus Lindholm, who’s been pursuing it since the early 1990s. The 1,800 acres of the project have been annexed into the town, and so far the company has built the Wal-Mart, the Home Depot, 244 units of employee housing at Buffalo Ridge and a great deal of infrastructure ” including the Post Boulevard interchange off Interstate 70, several miles of road plus bridges and roundabouts.

But that’s just the beginning. Leary said the reason the large commercial developments went in first had to do with requests by the town to do so ” as well as the need to start generating revenue.

Following the Traer Creek Plaza will be the first mixed-use building across the roundabout, scheduled to open some time in mid-2006. That will include commercial as well as residential space.

By 2010 or 2012, most of the development will be completed. It will include a large village center with a mix of housing, shops and other amenities such as an ice rink and events center. That “village center” area will run along the north side of the interstate in the area east of City Market.

On the other side of the highway will be some 268 homes, mostly in the higher-end. Leary said most of the mid-range housing will be on the south side of the highway, and that another 300 units of affordable housing will also be built.

All told, the development will have up to 2,400 units of housing, with the expectation that some 8,000 people will live there.

“We’re trying to create a village where they don’t roll up the sidewalks at night,” Leary said. “We want it to be a place where people come out at night, walk around and have fun. The hotels we’ll have in the area will also add to that as people come out looking for things to do.”

Other plans for the Village at Avon include an elementary school, fire and ambulance station, parks, open space and a pedestrian bridge over the interstate.

Acknowledging that some local residents have been critical of the scope and size of the project, Leary said Lindholm is committed to making it as attractive as possible.

“He really wants to do it as a quality development,” he said. “The Wal-Mart and the Home Depot were done as nicely as possible. And we’re sure hoping the Plaza is going to be one of the best buildings on the Western Slope.”

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or amiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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