Red Cliff meets its future |

Red Cliff meets its future

Cliff Thompson
Bret Hartman/Vail Daily In this image of the Gilman Property, part of the historic trestle that's to be preserved can be seen in the foreground.

RED CLIFF – Developer Bobby Ginn hopped on his jet in Florida Tuesday afternoon to be the featured speaker at a Red Cliff town board meeting five hours later.He visited one of the smallest and poorest towns in Eagle County to talk about his proposed development on nearby Battle Mountain between Red Cliff and Minturn. Red Cliff has an annual town budget of less than $500,000, and the town’s streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure are best described as “rustic.”

Ginn’s company, which has developed huge luxury residential communities across the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean, had annual sales last year of $1.2 billion.Before a crowd of 60 people, Ginn laid out some of the plans he has for his company’s development, which will include up to 1,400 slopeside and golf course homes south of Minturn and near the abandoned mining town of Gilman. His company has already asked Minturn to consider annexing the development so it can have the benefit of town services. But he also acknowledged the development may need to acquire additional water from Red Cliff.Ginn acquired the land for $32.75 million in December. It was originally owned by the Eagle Zinc Mine, which ceased producing ore in 1984.Dressed in jeans and a sweater, Ginn told the crowd, “This is not my first rodeo. We’re not here for a short time. We have found if you don’t breathe life into them, (communities) you’re just building subdivisions.”

What now?Ginn fielded plenty of questions from the crowd, but resident Jaymie Squires got to the heart of the matter.”How will this affect Red Cliff?” she asked.”Property values will go up in Red Cliff,” Ginn said. “I’ve watched communities change. There are always things communities like this do. This will provide the ability to provide more things in Red Cliff.”Ginn described the slopeside community above Red Cliff as being on par or even pricier than Beaver Creek’s exclusive Bachelor Gulch area, where slopeside homes regularly sell for millions. Lots on Ginn’s development would range in size from just under an acre to better than five acres, he said.”This will be that kind of community,” he said. “Buyers of this kind of real estate are fifth, sixth and eighth home buyers. They’re only here part of the time.”One resident, Mia Tucholke, was worried that there would be ridgeline development that might mar the mountain views from town.”You won’t see Cordillera-like units sticking out on sharp ridges,” said Mike Larson, a mountain planner hired by Ginn.Most if not all of the mountain residences would not be visible from Red Cliff, Larson and Ginn told the crowd. The homes will be in forested areas and behind ridges.Resident Bob Will said he wanted the town to be involved so it could help shape its future.

Ginn agreed.”We need to hear what Red Cliff wants, not to impose our will,” he said.One of the tougher issues for the new development, Ginn said, will be dealing with the traffic it will add to already-congested Highway 24. That’s the sole route between Eagle County’s resorts and Leadville, where many of the resort workers live.”I’m familiar with the Leadville 500,” Ginn said, referring to the twice-daily rush of commuters.He said his company will work to reduce traffic by helping build a larger road and will also schedule work shifts for employees and contractors building the development to non-rush-hour times.Other concerns centered around access trails to the mountain along Willow Creek, wildlife and access to U. S. Forest service land beyond the development. After the meeting, Tucholke said she was pleased Ginn had come.”I’m all for development,” she said, “As long as it’s managed.”Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.comVail Colorado

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