Vail formalizes regional agreement for planning of Dowd Junction workforce housing |

Vail formalizes regional agreement for planning of Dowd Junction workforce housing

Parcel is at the center of Senate bill moving through Colorado legislature

While Senate Bill 1 moves through the Colorado legislature, local municipalities are getting the ball rolling on planning for potential community housing at this site in Dowd Junction.
Ali Longwell/Vail Daily archive

While Colorado’s first Senate bill works its way through the legislature, local entities and municipalities are formalizing an agreement to plan a community housing project on a Dowd Junction parcel at the center of the bill.

At its Tuesday, March 7 meeting, the Vail Town Council approved a memorandum of understanding between the State Land Board, Eagle County, the towns of Minturn and Avon, the metro districts of EagleVail, Traer Creek and The Village, as well as the EMD Limited Liability Company.

The understanding formalizes an agreement between the entities to conduct a cooperative planning effort for the development of workforce housing on a site in Dowd Junction, which is currently utilized by the Colorado Department of Transportation and owned by the State Land Board.

It’s expected that the other councils, commissioners and boards will also vote to approve this memorandum in the coming weeks. The item is currently on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners’ agenda for its Tuesday, March 14, meeting.

This 3.5-acre parcel in Dowd Junction was the inspiration — and if it passes, the proof of concept — for Colorado’s first Senate bill in 2023. If passed, this bill would enable Colorado’s public-private partnership office to help broker partnerships on state-owned land between local governments, nonprofits and private developers to build affordable housing.

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The site has long been identified as a potential community housing site, largely due to its location, which is in close proximity to Vail, Avon and Minturn. Preliminary studies of the land identified that the site has the potential to develop 80 two-bedroom units of 800 square feet each, according to the fact sheet on the bill.

The bill also would allocate $13 million from the state’s budget this year to help initiate projects of this nature. And as the Eagle County parcel is at the center of the bill, $2 million of this budgeted amount has been set aside to get it started.

The site is currently utilized for CDOT operations as well as a number of temporary homes. If the bill passes, the $2 million budgeted would be used to move the trailers currently on the site, relocate the employees to another part of Eagle County, and get the land ready for workforce development. However, from there it would be up to local communities and developers to work out the details.

According to Vail’s Town Manager Russ Forrest, the memorandum was requested by the state to “get the ball rolling with this project.”

“This MOU would really say that yes, we want to come together, start working together on making this a reality in the future,” said Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid. “There’s a long way to go, a lot of planning to do, but this is really the first step in kicking it off.”

While the memorandum represents a step forward, it is “only a statement of intentions to facilitate coordination among parties,” and does not create any legal or financial obligations for those that sign it.

What it does do is set the planning and design process in motion with the State Land Board.

“The parties agree to schedule and attend regular meetings to review and discuss conceptual design and planning for the development of the State Land Board property,” reads the agreement, adding that the conceptual design and planning will include site evaluation, utility evaluation, evaluation of potential deed restrictions, and much more. The costs associated with this process will fall on the State Land Board.

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