Vail houses 35 with new law
VAIL, Colorado ” Stricter employee housing rules that were passed in Vail more than a year ago have created homes for about 35 workers, plus more than $100,000 in money for housing.
The rules require developers to build worker housing as part of new residential and commercial projects, compensating for the amount of jobs they create.
Mark Gordon, a Vail councilman who voted to approve the laws last year, said the rules have been successful, even if they were passed after many large Vail projects had already been approved.
“It’s unfortunate that those rules weren’t passed five years ago or 10 years ago. But they weren’t,” he said. “As the economy turns back upward, we’ll get more housing.”
The affordable homes, which total 12,405 square feet, come from the Strata project, a condo-timeshare development planned for Lionshead where the Lionshead Inn and the Lionshead Inn Annex are now. At 350 square feet per employee, that square footage equates to housing for about 35 employees.
“It made the economics of the project a little more challenging, but we were able to deal with the challenges necessary to be able to comply with the rules,” said Rodrigo Cortina, a representative for the group that is developing the property.
The developer will buy condos throughout Vail to satisfy the employee-housing requirements, Cortina said. One of the worker homes will be within the Strata complex.
The rules have also generated $134,885 in fees. Most of that money ” some $119,000 ” came from Safeway, which is adding on to its West Vail store.
Nina Timm, housing coordinator for the town of Vail, said the town expects to see the rules generate more housing over the next several years as big projects move forward.
Ever Vail, the $1 billion Vail Resorts project planned for West Lionshead, would be subject to the rules. There will be affordable studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes, totaling 123 beds, in the complex, the company said last year.
Vail’s rules included a 10 percent inclusionary zoning requirement and a 20 percent commercial linkage requirement.
Don Cohen, executive director of the Eagle County Economic Council and a member of the countywide Housing Action Team, said the Vail rules were a “baby step” toward addressing the town’s worker-housing shortage.
“It was definitely the beginning of a trend,” he said.
The town of Avon and Eagle County later passed their own sets of affordable housing rules.
But Cohen said Vail’s rules weren’t strict enough. He added that the results after a year are not surprising. “I think it’s what’s expected at this stage in the game,” he said. “Yes, the number is sort of low, but they’re ramping up, hopefully.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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