Vail affordable housing plan falters | VailDaily.com
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Vail affordable housing plan falters

VAIL, Colorado ” It’s back to square one, again, for Timber Ridge.

On Tuesday, the Vail Town Council abruptly ended talks with a Texas developer who had a $107 million plan to redevelop the aging employee-housing complex.

“I think this project is dead,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland. “It just doesn’t work.”

Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital wanted to rebuild the town-owned Timber Ridge into 312 four-bedroom apartments, doubling the number of people who live there now. The developer also wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure in a massive $600 million project.

The apartments are the largest employee-housing complex in Vail, where some say affordable housing is the biggest problem facing the town. Redevelopment has created hundreds of additional jobs in town, while rising home prices and an influx of second-home owners and retirees are pushing workers farther away.

Timber Ridge now houses mostly Vail Resorts seasonal employees, such as lift operators, snowcat drivers and restaurant workers.

The developer insisted that it own, not lease, the land, but several council members didn’t want to sell it.

“Everywhere I’ve been in town for the last three weeks, it’s been ‘Don’t sell the land,’ ‘Don’t sell the land,’ ‘Don’t sell the land,'” said Farrow Hitt, a councilman.

The developer was also unwilling to put caps on rent increases ” another problem for some council members.

The vote was 6-1 to end the talks, with Mark Gordon casting the dissenting vote.

Mark Masinter, a representative for the development group, said, despite the rejection, he’ll still try to sell Vail on his plan for Timber Ridge.

“I was disappointed, but we’re still committed to trying to make it work,” he said.

The town similarly ended negotiations in 2006 with another developer, Corum Real Estate Group, which had a $200 million plan for Timber Ridge that was a mix of affordable and market-rate homes.

Timber Ridge, which was built in 1981, has leaky roofs, loose railings and missing floorboards. Over the next seven years, almost $2.5 million in improvements will be needed at the complex, a recent report said.

The town still has $22 million in debt on Timber Ridge from buying the property in 2003 and removing mold.

The town will consider in April what to do next with Timber Ridge.

Margaret Rogers, a councilwoman, suggested creating a “master plan” for Timber Ridge to decide what the town should build there.

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


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