Vail Daily letter: Eagle losing ground
Vail, CO, Colorado
“Eagle, CO. Keep it Real.” The tag line has an admirable, appealing quality. It infers that Eagle is a healthy, timeless, “it’s all good” kind of place.
It’s how we have historically imagined Eagle, but it’s not the Eagle we live in.
The Eagle we live in is a suburban community that is in serious economic trouble. Most residents leave here to work or shop in other towns. We’re a bedroom community that millions of seasonal vacationers have driven past for decades and continue to skirt in spite of all our efforts to draw them in and open their wallets. We’re a town with great neighborhoods that cost more to maintain than they contribute in property taxes.
Residential growth alone has never been sustainable anywhere. Every town in Colorado lives or dies in terms of the sales tax revenues from their mix of retail businesses. Like it or not, every municipality is in competition with the neighboring towns for sales tax revenues.
The town of Eagle and its business community have tried repeatedly to draw in more customers, but the retail store mix in other towns has a stronger draw for our own residents, nevermind folks from other towns.
Eagle is way behind and losing the contest for customers and those tax revenues.
The town of Eagle was faithful to prevailing sentiment and tried to “keep it real” by investing millions in the heart of historic Eagle. They beautified Broadway, remodeled Centennial Town Park and upgraded the 100-year-old sewers and water mains down Broadway.
Several owners remodeled their commercial property. A handful of new businesses have come and gone since then.
A few businesses remain, actively serving Eagle residents. Broadway fills with parked cars regularly, but sales tax revenues have not improved
The truth is that most of our sales tax revenues come from businesses north of the river, about a mile from historic Eagle and away from our beloved neighborhoods. Most are well-known national or regional enterprises.
City Market draws more customers than any other business in Eagle, providing about 40 percent of all the sales tax revenue collected in Eagle. Did we know most of our economic eggs come from one basket next to I-70?
I-70 is our conduit to work and the distant stores that draw our loyalty. It needs to become our revenue conduit. To have a chance of winning the battle for sales tax revenue, Eagle must encourage a unique mix of retail businesses to locate along I-70 in order to draw customers in from other towns. Imagine moving Edward’s Corner and Riverwalk and setting it along I-70.
Imagine our own Riverwalk with a mix of national brand-name stores – maybe a Crate and Barrel, Bath and Body Works, American Eagle Outfitters, Coldwater Creek, Apple, Best Buy, Chico’s, etc.
These are all stores that are currently not available on the Western Slope west of Denver or east of Grand Junction.
Call the place Riverwalk or Eagle River Station. It would definitely draw customers from a hundred miles or more.
Without a project like this, we can count on “Eagle, CO. Keep it Poor.”
Support Eagle and your neighborhood. Vote yes for Eagle River