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Vail Daily letter: ERS would ruin everything

Dave Berg Vail, CO, Colorado

I live in the town of Eagle, and have been an active professional in the landscape architecture, planning and land development industry since the mid-’90s. In fact, my livelihood has been supported by some form of design, development and community growth for nearly 20 years. I’ve seen the ups and downs in California, Arizona and Colorado first hand. That said, please consider this logical analysis of Eagle River Station and the impacts it will have throughout the central mountains of Colorado.Per the BBC Research & Consulting “Economic Impact Report,” Dec. 23, 2011, author Adam D. Orens concludes that “the ERS developer anticipates that its market area will also extend to Garfield County, Lake County, Routt County and beyond.” I’m assuming the “beyond” includes parts of Pitkin and Summit counties. Per Jeff Green Partners’ “Updated Retail Feasibility Study,” May 17, 2011, the primary trade area extends north to Steamboat Springs, east to the Continental Divide, south to Eagle-Pitkin county line and west to Rifle. Secondary trade areas include Aspen and Grand Junction. Have no doubt, the market area required to support both reports — per Trinity/Red Development’s own analysis — is enormous. And don’t forget, in the primary trade-market area, there already exist two Target stores (Glenwood and Silverthorne), five Walmart stores (Avon, Frisco, Steamboat, Glenwood and Rifle), and three-ish do-it-yourself stores (Home Depot in Avon and Dillon in the future, and Lowes in Glenwood and new in Silverthorne.)Really think about this: If the market areas listed above are in Eagle River Station’s trade-market area, aren’t Eagle County residents in their trade-market area too? Meaning, commercial centers in those other markets don’t exist without you and me! Likewise, Eagle River Station will not survive without them (it actually won’t survive with them, either)! This is the basis for the logical conclusion you’ll read below.Let’s consider Garfield County. Glenwood is home to Glenwood Meadows, a 405,000-square-foot commercial center anchored by a Target and Lowes. There is an additional 90,000 square feet occupied by Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority, Pier 1, Petco and Vitamin Cottage. Eagle River Station is 80% bigger than Glenwood Meadows. Plus Glenwood and Rifle are already home to two Walmart stores. Don’t forget, Garfield County is considered part of the primary trade-market area that Trinity Red’s research firms included to justify Eagle River Station.And what about Summit County? Summit falls into the “east to the Continental Divide” portion of the Jeff Green study. Roughly estimated, there is 160,000 square feet of outlet commercial space in three villages in Silverthorne, currently running at a 30 percent vacancy rate. Above and beyond, Silverthorne is also home to a Target store, and a new Lowes. Frisco is home to a Walmart store, and Home Depot has plans to build in Dillon. I think it’s safe to conclude that not many Summit County residents are going to drive 120 miles round trip to Eagle for their shopping needs, yet they are included by Trinity Red’s research firms to justify Eagle River Station.Did you know Steamboat is 82 miles from Eagle and 88 miles from Silverthorne? Yet Steamboat is included as part of Eagle River Station’s primary trade-market area by Trinity Red’s research firms. And Steamboat already has a Walmart store. My gut tells me that if a Steamboat resident is looking for a shopping experience, they’ll drive down Highways 40 & 9 into Silverthorne. Having Eagle River Station in Eagle probably won’t change that.So, let’s talk logic. The town of Eagle currently has almost 1.1 million square feet of space in town. Yet beyond the furthest existing development to the east of town, Eagle River Station proposes an additional 700,000-plus square feet of commercial space and up to 550 new residential units. And in case you didn’t know, the Haymeadow development up Brush Creek is proposing another 979 new residential units. With Eagle River Station, the town of Eagle will have 1,800,000 square feet of commercial space just in Eagle. The entire Cherry Creek Mall in Denver is just over 1 million square feet, and Cherry Creek pulls from a population of almost 2.4 million people from over 925,000 households. The Jeff Green study claims Eagle River Station will succeed with a primary trade-market area population of 119,490 people from just over 44,000 households, and a secondary trade-market area population of 86,739 people from almost 34,000 households (projected 2016 population). I’ll do the math for you: All trade-market areas to support Eagle River Station total just over 206,000 people coming from almost 78,000 households!!Based on the facts presented, does it seem logical that Eagle River Station will succeed even in the long run? Maybe a short honeymoon phase will show initial success (like Costco in Gypsum, which I believe is well below their annual projections), but there is no way the town can support 1.8 million square feet of commercial space and remain sustainable. Residents from Glenwood, to Summit, to Steamboat and beyond, will not make Eagle River Station their primary shopping center. Eagle River Station will eventually die from the pure lack of customers.Here’s the worst part: What happens in the wake of Eagle River Station? All the residents from Eagle County who currently help support existing Garfield and Summit County commercial centers will no longer be using those centers in lieu of shopping at Eagle River Station. This abrupt lack of customers results in vacancies, and eventually the death of those shopping centers. So som day soon, the greed that set Eagle River Station into motion could ultimately kill all the shopping centers in the central mountains of Colorado, including Eagle River Station. How much sales tax and how many jobs will be left at that point?I’ve written more than enough here. Ideas on smart growth alternatives will be tackled another day, and trust me, there are many alternatives! Vote “no” to Eagle River Station May 22. Visit http://www.yestoeagle.com for more info.Dave Berg Eagle


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