Traer Creek Plaza: Splendor in the grass |

Traer Creek Plaza: Splendor in the grass

Kathy FilgoVail CO, Colorado
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily

The grass is always greener, so the saying goes and at Traer Creek Plaza it ultimately will be. This fall Traer Creek Plaza, the innovative retail and office project located in Avon next to Wal-Mart and Home Depot, made its long-awaited debut. By far the most fascinating feature that has captivated the attention of folks throughout the Valley for months is the buildings roof. But for a while, it seemed that what was to be a lovely grass-covered roof would look like nothing more than a rooftop parking lot.Problems of high altitude and resulting dryness on the rooftop flora, unanticipated in their intensity, have been addressed and this summer Traer Creek Plaza should have an umbrella of thriving vegetation. The roof is actually covered with a living material, sedum sod, a succulent, bean sprout-like plant that is easy to maintain. Some of the many green factors to the material choice it captures storm water, aids in the insulation of the building, lowers energy usage, and, at the forefront of the global warming debate, converts carbon dioxide to oxygen. Non-potable water sources will be used for irrigation. And regardless of personal design taste, there is an intriguing aesthetic factor that serves to fuse the high-tech features of the architecture with nature’s own surroundings. Even the two-story, semi-circular shape of the building suggests integration with nature.The organic design is not confined to the plantings on the roof structurally the roof actually moves. Designed by award-winning architect Arthur Erickson, the roof is designed without interior supports to offer unobstructed views. A cable assembly is one of the structural elements that supports the roof and allows it to move several inches under the weight of the Valleys snowfall. An environmentally sound design has been the focus of the developer, Traer Creek, LLC. There are various recycled products used in the construction of the building but most notably the building is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and is expected to receive the councils LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. The LEED rating system establishes a common standard of measurement for what constitutes a green building and, frankly, adds substantial construction costs to achieve certification. This would make Traer Creek Plaza the first commercial building in Eagle County to receive a LEED certification. The first floor of Traer Creek Plaza will house various retailers and the second floor will consist of office space. Three restaurants are currently residing in the Plaza are:ZaccaZa, “a red sauce joint,” is an Italian family-style restaurant featuring pizza and pasta dishes. It is approximately 3,700 square feet, not including patio space, and is scheduled to open this month.5 Spice Asian Bistro will offer contemporary Asian cuisine and occupy approximately 3,700 square feet, not including patio space, and is still in the process of being built out.The third restaurant, The Swiss Hot Dog, is a longtime Valley favorite. Forced to abandon its Lionshead location due to construction, it will now occupy 1,025 square feet in Traer Creek Plaza. Also occupying the retail space at Traer Creek Plaza are Village Warehouse Wines with about 4,000 square feet featuring wines and liquor. Challenge Outfitters will offer outdoor apparel and equipment for fishermen and bird hunters, as well as equestrian apparel. Lil Partner presents western wear and specialty gifts and is scheduled to open this March. And the Game Stop offers, among other things, video games.According to Christopherson & Company, public relations company for Traer Creek, the Vail Valley Chamber of Commerce and Tourism will occupy some of the office space located on the second floor, stating the Chamber found occupancy in a green building very appealing. Traer Creek Development Company will also occupy office space in the sod-roofed building.The 52,650-square-foot Traer Creek Plaza complex is part of the 1,800-acre Village at Avon mixed-use development project in the works which will include approximately 2,400 residential units and 650,000 square feet of additional commercial space. The project has been initially approved but there are many more steps through the development process before all the decisions are finalized.The Village of Avon project will expand west of the Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Traer Creek Plaza center toward the downtown of Avon, with the substantially largest percent of the acreage located to the north of Interstate 70 and on the south-facing slope.The long-awaited opening of Traer Creek Plaza has occurred with the introductory appearance of the emerald green dome just a few months away. But spring will be here before we know it and Traer Creek Plaza will literally be blooming along with the rest of the Valley and also along with the entire area of Avon flora-shing.Vail, Colorado

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