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Touting big-box competition

Matt Zalaznick
Vail Daily/Matt ZalaznickMagnus Lindholm, developer of the Village at Avon, says as many as 650,000 square feet of commercial space are in store between Interstate 70 and Highway 6, as well as 2,400 residential units. His plans are to build about 500 homes on the hills north of the freeway, along with a 240 affordable apartments.
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The walls are on their way up at The Home Depot and Wal-Mart stores that will open next summer and fall in east Avon. Work at the Interstate 70 interchange and the connecting roads that will bring shoppers to the stores is also on schedule, says Lindholm, the majority landowner and manager of Traer Creek LLC.

The competition ignited by the two large chain-stores once they open their doors, he says, should save some money for shoppers in the valley.

“Why is gasoline so expensive? Why is liquor so expensive?”



Lindholm says. “I think the project will be extremely good for Avon and the valley and everybody who lives here.”

Lindholm says he doesn’t agree with some Avon officials and Town Council candidates who’ve said in recent weeks the project is a threat to the town’s financial security.



“One thing I keep hearing is how bad this is going to affect Avon,” Lindholm says. “But all this will lend to a much cheaper situation for people who live here.”

Cheaper prices at the two stores should have a ripple effect across the valley, he says.

“If the cost of building materials is lower, people should be able to rent (homes) cheaper,” Lindholm says.



Avon is already facing a severe cash crisis. A drop in business and a resulting slump in sales tax revenues this year could leave the town’s budget more than $600,000 short for 2002.

Critics of the Village at Avon worry The Home Depot and Wal-Mart will lure more shoppers out of Avon’s stores and into the new development, where, for the next 10 to 15 years, all sales tax revenues will go to the development company, Traer Creek, as it pays off the bonds that financed the project.

Lindholm says the tax revenues are crucial.

“It’s pretty clear that if we didn’t have the taxes, this would be a hard thing to get going,” Lindholm says.

Under another agreement, however, Traer Creek has to fully compensate the town for the loss of tax revenues from the current Wal-Mart, which will vacate its home in Chapel Square when the new store opens.

Even when a new business – or businesses – move into the current Wal-Mart building, Traer Creek has to make up any financial shortfall.

Lindholm says town officials shouldn’t worry about the Village at Avon causing financial chaos.

In fact, he says, the town is already benefitting financially from the project – from construction workers that have been eating and shopping in Avon. The town will prosper further when future employees of The Home Depot and Wal-Mart begin spending money in Avon, too, he says.

“They’re going to start buying things at all the stores,” he says. “Everybody needs food.”

A world-class architect was hired to design The Home Depot and Wal-Mart buildings, which will have a Southwestern flavor, Lindholm says. There will also be a park between the two stores, Lindholm says.

“Everybody thinks this community needs to look like an Alpine Village in Switzerland or Austria,” Lindholm says. “I don’t think it needs to look like that, when we’re so close to places like Arizona.”

Traer Creek is also helping to build a road from Chapel Square into the complex. It is also paying the town an additional $200,000 a year for the next 10 years as well, funding improvements along U.S. Highway 6, Lindholm says.

Lindholm and Traer Creek will soon begin planning the rest of the village. Lindholm says he has a lot of ideas, including a multiple-theater cinema, a conference center, an ice-rink and a discount gas station.

“When we do the detailed plans, the list should be as long as it can be,” Lindholm says. “Avon will be such a big town after this, it should have everything.”

The summer conference center could double as an ice rink in winter, Lindholm says.

There are two empty lots near The Home Depot and Wal-Mart that will be developed next. Traer Creek also will get to work on a “residential pod” that includes land for a school northeast of the new interchange, Bohart says.

Traer Creek can build up to 650,000 square feet of commercial space between Interstate 70 and Highway 6, as well as 2,400 residential units. It will build about 500 homes on the hills north of I-70, along with a 240 affordable apartments.

The next step, however, is finding a tenant for the current Wal-Mart building. Traer Creek Director of Development Shane Bohart says there has been a lot of interest in the building from large, national retail stores.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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