‘Strong interest’ for Vail’s Chamonix townhomes | VailDaily.com

‘Strong interest’ for Vail’s Chamonix townhomes

VAIL — There seems to be plenty of interest in the Chamonix townhome project in West Vail.

As of Wednesday, 102 people had completed applications to enter the lottery for the 32 available townhomes. Those people have applied for the full range of homes available, including the four largest units — the most expensive deed-restricted units ever put into the Vail Valley market. The estimated price of those units is $739,000.

Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said the biggest of the units — nearly 2,000 square feet, with a two-car garage — have seen some of the strongest interest from potential buyers.

Those units had drawn some anxious comments from Vail Town Council members. The town is putting up $17.5 million to build Chamonix — money that will be recouped through unit sales. With that much public money at stake, some council members wondered if buyers would come forward at the projected price points. Estimated prices for the five unit types range from $390,000 for a two-bedroom unit with a one-car garage to the top estimated price of $739,000.

Ruther said the development team has been "a little surprised" by the strength of interest in the most expensive units.

"But, talking with real estate professionals in the valley, they're telling us these are units that won't be replicated in the market," Ruther said.

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More interest building?

While there are plenty of applicants so far, Ruther said he expects to see more applications come in before the March 17 application deadline.

But another question is how many of those applicants' names will eventually wind up in the lottery drawing.

The application is one of several steps required before someone becomes eligible to participate in the lottery.

Other steps include working with lenders to get pre-qualified for a mortgage and participating in mandatory homebuyer education classes.

Ruther said the first of those classes filled up, with 30 people attending. The next couple of classes are about full as well. Ruther said some people have signed up for the education classes, but haven't yet completed application forms.

There's no way to know how many applicants will end up with their names in the May 17 lottery. At this point, Ruther said there are at least two applicants for every home and at every price level.

But just how many people end up with pre-qualification letters in hand for that lottery still worries Vail Town Council member Dick Cleveland.

"Expressing interest and having the ability to buy a unit are two different things," Cleveland said, adding that's why he's happy to see the application deadline moved up two weeks.

The application deadline was originally set for March 31. The deadline was moved up to get a better idea of interest.

Cleveland said that level of interest is the difference in his mind between building all 32 units at once and doing the project in two phases.

But the application deadline was moved for another reason: to speed up some of the construction planning. That includes the critical step of hiring subcontractors for the project.

Local firm RA Nelson is the general contractor on the Chamonix project. Mike Cuthbertson is the company's project manager for Chamonix. At the Feb. 7 meeting of the Vail Town Council, Cuthbertson told board members that lining up subcontractors as early as possible was a critical need for the project.

Lining up subs

Those subcontractors are "busier earlier than they've ever been," Cuthbertson said. But, with the council's permission to begin lining up those companies, Cuthbertson said RA Nelson is getting subcontractors lined up.

"It's going great," he said.

Before construction starts in the spring, the Chamonix development team is also finishing up the final details of the project.

Ruther said those details include having construction drawings and specifications drawn up by Champion Homes, located in York, Nebraska. That company is going to build the townhomes, which will then be assembled in Vail.

And, while the pre-construction process is moving along, there are still a handful of official steps the Vail Town Council has to take.

Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said the council needs to refine just how the Chamonix appreciation cap is going to work. The initial idea was to tie appreciation to growth in Eagle County's area median income. But, Moffet said, there may be some other form of cap by the time buyers sign their purchase contracts.

The council also needs to look more deeply into the current prohibition on owning other property, Moffet said.

But, Moffet added, he's not surprised by the strong initial interest in the homes.

Cleveland said he's encouraged, too. But, he added, "the town should only be building units it can pre-sell. This is a lot of money."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

By the numbers:

102: Applications submitted for Vail’s Chamonix townhomes.

32: Homes available.

5: Different townhome styles available.

$739,000: Estimated sale price of the four biggest units.

More info: Go to http://www.chamonixvail.com.