Vail housing project sets ‘aggressive’ schedule
• The site is at 2310 Chamonix Road, roughly behind the West Vail fire station.
• The site is 3.6 acres.
• The town purchased the property in the early 2000s for $1.5 million.
• Plans — which are still preliminary — call for about 50 for-sale units.
• Construction on access and utilities could begin in April of 2016.
VAIL — A parcel of land along Chamonix Road in West Vail has long been intended for housing in Vail. The time to build may be drawing near.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday heard an update on the status of the project, with a proposal to start work on access and underground utilities on the site as soon as April. Construction on the first units could begin by July.
With that admitted ambitious schedule in mind, council members have some big decisions to make. At the top of that decision list is just how many units will be built on the 3.6-acre site.
A 2009 plan called for 58 units on the site — some ideas proposed nearly 80 units on site — but council members in 2014 decided that fewer units on the site would be better, in order to build bigger homes and provide more open space, parking and storage.
With that in mind, the current, tentative plan calls for five duplex buildings, 19 townhome units and a yet-to-be-determined number of condominiums. Current plans call for each unit to have two enclosed parking spaces, with the duplex units getting one more outdoor parking space.
But Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said parking, storage and more square footage will come at a cost. As currently envisioned, there will be about a 10-foot side yard between the duplex units. That’s going to make common areas critical, especially since the idea is to attract buyers who stay in the neighborhood with their families.
Attracting and keeping families in Vail has been a town goal for years. At the moment, only about one-fourth of the town’s for-sale units — all of which deed-restricted, meaning their appreciation is capped— are occupied by families with children.
The issue is unit size and available bedrooms.
“We have a great deal of inventory that works well for a couple, or a couple with one child,” council member Greg Moffet said, adding that once a couple has a second child on the way, they start looking elsewhere.
“We’ve had families leaving in droves over the years,” Moffet added. “We need to address that.”
The initial plans for Chamonix indicate that 20 to 30 percent of the first buyers will have families. But, Ruther said, that percentage is expected to grow as people stay, or new residents buy into, the neighborhood.
Council member Kim Langmaid asked how environmentally efficient the new units might be.
Will Hentschel, of 359 Design, who has been working on the initial design work, said the new units will be energy efficient, which will save money for buyers. But, he added, just having the units in Vail, close to jobs and near the town’s transit system, will also be a benefit.
“From a global sustainability standpoint, this reduces car and vehicle use,” Hentschel said. “It allows in-fill, a more efficient use of land per acre.”
The Chamonix parcel was acquired in the early 2000s, for what today seems an incredible bargain: $1.5 million.
“It just seemed like a good deal back then,” said council member Dick Cleveland, who was on the town council that negotiated that deal.
Over that time, there have been several plans and proposals for the site. At one time, before the town purchased the property on which the West Vail fire station now sits, there was talk of building that station on the Chamonix property.
Now, though, there seems to be an ambitious schedule to start work.
Mayor Dave Chapin reminded the council that the Vail Design Review Board and the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission have each seen plans for Chamonix “four or five times” over the years.
“The ball’s in our hands now,” Chapin said. “(Ruther) has proposed an aggressive schedule, so we need to stay on point. … This is a great opportunity for our citizens.”
Up until now, the county has been a referral agency relegated to commenting on the plan but that could change if developers plan water service extension to the site