Vail Daily’s View: Eagle has chance to thrive with Eagle River Station
Vail, CO, Colorado
Cut through the rhetoric, stretching of meaning, semantical rocks and it’s reasonably clear that Eagle River Station would succeed financially and the risk is borne entirely by the developer — who would continue to run the shopping center.
Construction is much more likely to start in 2010 than years from now.
“Bailout” is a loaded word for a city council making a wise bet on a developer they trust enough make a loan instead of issue bonds.
“Local” is not something a carpenters union has credibility discussing here. Not when every local contractor of note supports ERS.
“Upfront” does not mean checks cut on Jan. 6 if the town voters approve Eagle River Station. But it does mean upfront, before construction begins.
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Opponents have misread a “40 percent of income” figure to mean spending at Eagle River Station, which isn’t true. It’s a figure of discretionary income spent on retail that is skewed further by the high number of, ahem, visitors to this resort region. The developers wouldn’t take the risk if what the opponents paint were remotely true.
The developer can’t get a loan? Actually, RED received $264 million in construction loans in 2009 because of their longstanding relationships with banks and confidence those banks have in them even now. This is a strength for the developer, not a weakness.
Armchair experts who, make no mistake, want nothing more built lest it threaten a dozen mom-and-pops that ironically enough would benefit from the center suddenly know all about valley economics.
Even as millions of shopping dollars go untapped in this valley for lack of options.
Bicycle races, flea markets and fairgrounds dog shows make up the difference of what the center would bring in? That’s not a serious argument.
Opponents appear to believe even their side would all flock to the new shopping center if it were built, forsaking the local mom-and-pops in Eagle Ranch and the old downtown. That’s not going to happen, either.
The ardent opponents frankly have skated on thin ice of veracity with the financials. Maybe the fearmongering will work, if the old defense lawyer’s trick of making enough up to confuse the jury works with the voters.
Too bad. The real argument lies in quality of life. What makes a small town charming? That’s the question, and we hope that’s what the voters concentrate on.
Is a town better off poor in revenue but rich in neighborly feeling, or with an economic engine on the outskirts that provides re venue for the town to enhance the core materially, as well?
That’s a question only the town residents, who pay the property taxes, can answer for themselves.
We believe ERS would improve the quality of life in Eagle, and help turn a geode — ugly on the outside with gems in the core that few besides residents even know about now — into a pearl.
And what’s happened to, say, Glenwood Springs, with their shopping center Glenwood Meadows? All the city’s business district’s saw an increase in shopping and more people downtown. The same is likely to happen with the shopping districts in Eagle, particularly the ones few outsiders know about now.
The developer is of as high a quality and prudent of purpose as any the town would find, and among the top in the nation. There’s nothing fly by night about them.
A Target, whose leaders’ financial study showed would succeed, is not going to steal from the Everything Store. An all-organic grocer offers shopping not available in the valley now. The layout of Eagle is such that the hidden places could only benefit from the exposure Eagle River Station would bring.
We see that the developer, who would stick around to run the development and therefore must get it right, is a solid fit for Eagle. The argument that there’s better borders on specious.
Turning the project down in Jan. 5’s referendum will come close to ensuring nothing is built there, or that the consequence is a patchwork of commercial that simply extends Chambers Avenue, hardly a haven marking Eagle as “unique.” Frankly, the town looks like crap from I-70, and along Highway 6, too.
Aesthetically, Eagle River Station would be a vast improvement and provide the means to clean up Chambers and Highway 6 as it skirts downtown.
The town would not suddenly lose its small-town feel if it grew to 8,000 or even 10,000 residents instead of 6,500. It’s headed there regardless of ERS, and headed for tighter times than residents may realize.
So we see income from the outskirts benefitting rather than harming the core of town. The financial potential is there, and there’s more to gain in quality of life with ERS than without it.
Either way, Eagle will survive. But a “yes” is the best bet for the town to thrive.
Vail Daily Editorial Board