Vail affordable housing renovation moves ahead
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail should pursue a Texas group’s offer to rebuild Timber Ridge, the affordable housing complex, in hopes of alleviating its housing “crisis,” council members said Tuesday.
“We have a bird in the hand here,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland. “We have a proposal.”
Through the years, the town has gotten several bids to rebuild the town-owned complex, but none has materialized.
“I want to commend this group for coming in and offering something,” said Councilman Farrow Hitt, lamenting that other “partners” in the community have not built housing.
Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital has offered to rebuild Timber Ridge into 316 four-bedroom apartments using about two-thirds of the 10 acres. That would double the capacity of the current Timber Ridge, leaving almost 4 acres for future development.
The developer ” which is also planning to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure ” is offering to buy 6.2 acres of Timber Ridge from the town for $13.2 million.
“We see this as a high-end apartment complex that happens to be for the workers of the town,” said Mark Masinter, a representative for the developer, promising common areas, workout rooms and ample storage for residents. “This is not going to be a dorm. This is something the town is going to be very proud of.”
Rent would be $2,280 for a four-bedroom apartment, Masinter said.
The town bought Timber Ridge in 2003 to save it as affordable housing. But the aging complex needs millions in improvements during the next few years.
“It really is about to fall down between people’s ears,” said Kim Newbury, a councilwoman.
The council members voted 6-1 to pursue the deal. The town and the developer now have 45 days to come up with an agreement for the project. The council would then have to approve that agreement.
Councilwoman Margaret Rogers voted against moving forward, saying the severity of the situation calls for Vail to step back and figure out how much housing is right for the Timber Ridge land. She also advocated for an appraisal of the land.
“We have not done our homework here,” Rogers said. “We don’t know what we need.”
But others said they’d rather push forward rather than commission studies.
“We get accused, and rightly so, of doing studies and dilly-dallying and not building a stick of housing,” Cleveland said.
The council decided to pursue an option that would rebuild Timber Ridge into four-story buildings.
Masinter also presented an option to rebuild the complex into seven-story towers, an alternative that would have cost $30 million more, limited the development to 4 acres and raised rent to $3,000 for four bedrooms. That option was left unpursued for now.
The Town Council has made affordable housing a top priority for the next two years. Rising housing prices are pushing workers farther from Vail, while redevelopment has created more and more jobs in town.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.