Vail: 7 stories of worker housing planned | VailDaily.com
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Vail: 7 stories of worker housing planned

Special to the DailyThe Sonnenalp plans to build an 82-foot-tall employee housing complex across the interstate from Vail Village.
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VAIL, Colorado ” A Vail hotel whose owner calls employee housing “a huge priority” is planning to build a seven-story complex for worker homes.

The Sonnenalp Resort got approval this week to redevelop Solar Vail, across Interstate 70 from the hotel, into an 84-foot-tall building.

“The success of our business completely depends on the level of employees we are able to attract, hire and retain,” said Johannes Faessler, owner and general manager of the 88-room Sonnenalp. “Housing is a huge priority for us, and it always has been.”

Worker housing has become a priority for the town, too, as rising housing prices are pushing workers to live farther and farther away. Last year, the Town Council passed rules that required developers to build more worker housing.

And as housing becomes more expensive, redevelopment is creating more low-paying service jobs. Vail’s “billion dollar renewal” is creating 1,500 new jobs, while additional development over the next few years could create another 2,115.

Councilman Mark Gordon applauded the Sonnenalp’s project.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “One of my goals with the housing issues has always been to incentivize and energize the private sector to help the town solve problems.”

The Sonnenalp wasn’t required to build this housing. But the Solar Vail building ” which was built in 1976 and has 24 homes ” is getting old and needs to be rebuilt, Faessler said.

About 150 people will live at the new complex, Faessler said. The Sonnenalp probably won’t need all of that space, and Faessler envisions leasing some of the homes to other local businesses.

At 84 feet tall, the building would be one of the larger in Vail. The land is zoned as “housing district,” for which height is considered on a case-by-case basis.

“It just makes sense to increase the density,” Gordon said.

Faessler said the site is so ideal for housing ” in part because of its proximity to the hotel and Vail Village ” that the Sonnenalp looked to maximize the size of the new building.

The new complex, which the Vail Town Council approved by a 7-0 vote Tuesday, would be completed by 2010 at the earliest, Faessler.

The Sonnenalp, which opened in 1979, has been named one of the top 50 hotels in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure magazine.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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