Vail hotel/apartment proposal may earn final approval
By the numbers:
170: Proposed hotel rooms at a Marriott Residence Inn in West Vail.
102: Apartments in the plan.
96: Apartments would be deed-restricted to people working in Vail.
331: Underground parking spaces.
VAIL — Not many apartments get built in the Vail Valley without some sort of government subsidy. Developer Peter Dumon may buck that trend.
The Vail Town Council tonight may give final approval to a proposal by Dumon’s Chicago-based company, the Harp Group, to build a combination hotel and apartment building at the site of the old Roost Lodge in West Vail. The council gave the project initial approval at its Jan. 17 meeting.
If approved, then construction could start this spring.
The proposed hotel puts a lot on the not-quite-2-acre site. The proposal includes 170 hotel rooms in a Marriott Residence Inn, as well as 102 apartments, 331 parking spaces and a number of amenities on the property.
Of the 102 apartments, 96 would be deed-restricted, meaning those units would be leased only to long-term renters who work at a town of Vail licensed business at least 30 hours per week — averaged throughout the course of a year.
None of the apartments will be available for short-term rentals.
The apartments were added to the plan in 2016, after Dumon had a conversation with Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom.
Before that conversation, the project had been previously approved for a hotel only on the site.
In an interview early this year, Dumon said his firm was weeks away from starting construction on the hotel-only project.
A slightly smaller building
Council members at a Jan. 3 meeting asked developers for some changes to the plan, citing the building’s height, among other things. After a bit more time at the drawing board, the building’s height dropped — from a maximum of 59.7 feet in places to a bit more than 48 feet at its highest points. There was also a bit of a cutback in parking and 11 fewer apartments.
Those changes were enough to earn first-reading approval of an ordinance to create what the town calls a “special development district” on the property. That designation allows the project to exceed some of the town’s zoning regulations. In the case of this project, a variance is needed for how much of the property is built upon, most of which is the underground parking. A variance is also needed for the height of some retaining walls, which are shorter than in the original proposal.
The developers also launched a public relations campaign with a Twitter account and website, http://www.LetMeLiveInVail.com.
Dominic Mauriello, the Eagle-based planner for the project, said that website drew a good bit of favorable attention, and resulted in as many as 90 letters or post cards of support sent to the council.
Even after receiving first approval in January, Mauriello said the website is still drawing some attention.
“I got a call recently from a new surgeon in town who asked me if we had any place to live,” Mauriello said.
And, with the first approval in hand, Mauriello said he doesn’t intend to make a presentation to the council this evening.
That would be a far cry from the more than three hours required for January’s hearing on first-reading approval.
Besides long presentations from the developers and town officials, a lot of that hearing was dedicated to comments from residents and people who would like to live in Vail.
Supporters, included both local chambers of commerce, Vail Valley Medical Center and other business interests, as well as residents who said they’re willing to pay the estimated $1,500 per month rent for a one-bedroom unit.
Council members also heard from a number of opponents, including several people who live in a condo building directly behind the proposed hotel.
Aside from its sheer size — a major stumbling block for many — opponents said the project will create traffic problems, both on North Frontage Road and the surrounding streets. Opponents also worried about apartment residents and the impacts those new residents might have on the neighborhood. Those effects include the possibility of a number of new dogs and owners in the area. Developers say there’s a maximum of 48 dogs in the apartments.
Susie Tjossem lives near the proposed hotel/apartment building, and was one of the early critics of its size. Asked if she plans to attend tonight’s meeting, Tjossem said she wasn’t sure yet. But, she added, she’s been impressed by the changes made to the plan.
Tjossem said Mauriello’s Jan. 17 presentation “did a really good job justifying neighborhood compatibility — that’s the thing I was most concerned about.”
Tjossem, a former Vail Town Council member, said the presentation might have been enough to prompt a yes vote on the plan if she was still serving.
“They were very convincing,” Tjossem said. “The things they’ve done have done quite a lot to lessen neighborhood impacts.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.