Vail Daily letter: Eagle needs to grow smarter
Eagle, CO, Colorado
Even though Eagle River Station was voted down, the debate still lingers. The “no” vote on ERS wasn’t a vote against new business. It was a vote against the monster that RED development was proposing. The finance directors of RED should all be fired for their folly. There are a ton of ready-to-build vacant lots in and around Eagle that they could have purchased for a fraction of the cost, including several lots on Chambers Avenue.
Mathematically and statistically, ERS made no sense. We do not have a large enough population to keep something of that magnitude solvent. The Eagle-Gypsum area has long had this skewed development plan: Build commercial space, then sit back with their fingers crossed, hoping somebody wants it. That is a recipe for failure.
Personally, I would even call most of the development between Eagle and Gypsum a failure. Developers plowed under hundreds of acres of prime deer wintering area, for what? A few struggling businesses, including a Ford dealership that already went belly up.
One reason business fails here, or commercial spaces sit empty , is because the commercial sale price, or rent is ridiculously high! The second reason is, there may not be enough demand for the product or service in such a small market. If Target, etc., really thought Eagle was a great market and location, why haven’t they bought one of the empty lots, and built here already?
Even if we weren’t in a national recession, and business was booming, you still have to make your local market attractive to new business. The way you do that is through cheap land, tax breaks and marketing incentives. The first thing Eagle needs to do is decide what industry it wants to be a part of.
Ranching is done. They left when land prices were so astronomic that they got rich with a stroke of a pen. Our ski areas are now mature, thus stifling new construction. The valley is already saturated with golf courses, so that niche is about done, too.
Sadly, most of the full-time residents of this valley were tied to construction in one form or another. Now that the valley is pretty much built out, everyone is feeling the pinch. This new market is reality, and the Eagle County market is now aligning itself with the national market.
Perhaps it is time to accept the fact that perhaps construction isn’t the industry this valley needs to be dependent on, either.
I voted no on ERS, but would love to see a few key businesses come here. I just cannot buy into this “build it and hope” mentality. I have a ton of business ideas for the numerous empty lots around town, but the startup costs, and overhead in this area are deal breakers.