Vail municipal building taking shape |

Vail municipal building taking shape

VAIL, Colorado – There are no drawings yet – plans for construction aren’t yet final, either – but plans for a new Vail town hall are starting to get hashed out.

The Vail Town Council Tuesday spent some quality time with town planning chief George Ruther and architect Will Hentschel of Boulder-based OZ Architects, who explained the thinking about the building so far.

The town is looking at tearing down the town hall west of the Vail Police Department’s offices – which received an extensive renovation in the 1990s – and replacing the 1970s-era building.

Part of the project will be funded by a $5 million property sale of about a half-acre on the west end of the municipal building property. That building currently holds the town’s planning department, recycling bins and a helipad used for air ambulances. That property would be used for a large medical office building, built by a partnership of Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.

At the moment, the idea is to provide about 18,000 square feet of usable office and meeting space in a building of about 21,000 square feet spread vertically over three floors. That number could increase if town officials decide to put a fourth floor on the building. That top floor could provide office space for the Vail Recreation District, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival or similar clients.

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Council member Kerry Donovan questioned the need for the fourth floor, especially if it would be used by commercial tenants such as attorneys.

But council member Margaret Rogers said there’s a current shortage of office space in town, and space in the new town hall used by nonprofit groups could free up private-sector space elsewhere in town.

Even, then, Donovan said, she wants to be sure there’s a real need for more office space in Vail before she’ll agree to spending the money needed to add a fourth floor.

Donovan also questioned the need to spend the money required to certify the building will meet LEED standards of energy efficiency and sustainability, suggesting that the town build the building to those standards, but not pay for the certification.

Rogers agreed, saying, “I don’t want to pay for a plaque.”

But Mayor Andy Daly disagreed. Even if certification costs $100,000, that represents less than .6 percent of the estimated costs, he said.

“We’re trying to set an example for the community,” Daly said. “We’re trying to send a message that we’re environmentally sensitive. I suggest building toward LEED standards and deciding later if we want the plaque.”

The planning process over the next month or so will include a couple of public sessions. Ruther and Hentschel said they’d have input from residents, as well as more ideas about parking and other issues at the council’s April 24 meeting.

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