Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Driving those pillars
May 20, 2011
All due respect to the economic pillars of the future – health care and education – but the engine that drove our valley economy for the past two decades is idling, not dead.
I understand that critics of development see it as our version of coal mines. Fossilish, dirty, uncool. History.
I’m not so sure. I’m seeing another run in the valley before we’re left to gentrify, a la the core villages of Vail.
Dormant projects line the valley from Gypsum to just west of Lionshead. A little water and these will sprout back to life.
Some make sense to me, and some don’t. One more shopping center, done well, makes sense given the high leakage of shopping dollars out of the valley. Of the candidates, Eagle River Station has the inside track by location and developer’s ability to follow through.
Traer Creek’s sun is setting in a puddle of Avon politics. The Tower Center parcel by the airport is up for sale and a weak location.
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Eagle’s Haymeadow residential proposal and the neighborhood planned for Wolcott, I don’t know. I’d have to be convinced on those. The second-home trend may have peaked, and that’s what would make either of those developments work.
But I think the project on the table for Edwards, built around a medical education theme, is exciting actually. So is Ever Vail.
The more focused project outside Minturn, formerly known as Ginn-turn, I think makes sense, too. I just don’t like it for purely aesthetic reasons. I just don’t like the idea of making Battle Mountain a little private ski resort, that’s all. It will work when the time’s right, though.
The hospital and Steadman Clinic’s plans to upgrade those facilities make complete sense – enough so the town of Vail ought to be doing all it can to help. That will be a footing that allows the pillar to come into being.
I hope for the best with the golf course developments in the valleys south of Gypsum and Eagle, of course. Looks like that niche was overbuilt, though.
What else? There are smaller projects throughout the valley that seemed to die with the recession. The West End, touching the Eagle River Preserve, is one of those. The Westin in Avon has phases in the future. Eagle-Vail’s business district has more potential. And so on.
I love our forward thinking about health and lifelong education as cornerstones of our economy someday.
Let’s just be careful about overlooking a foundation that still exists – that rest of the iceberg under the surface. And let’s work now to guide this behemoth to best fit the future.