Vail, partners seeking a way to not build at Booth Heights
If the town and partners can replace already approved units, East Vail site won't be built
- 5.4 acres for housing.
- 30 deed-restricted apartments.
- 19 deed-restricted townhomes.
- 12 free-market townhomes.
As alternatives develop for replacing the Booth Heights project in East Vail, it’s becoming less likely the parcel in East Vail will be developed.
Town officials since January have been talking with Vail Resorts, the property owner, and Triumph Development, which has a purchase contract on the 23.3-acre parcel in East Vail.
That search, along with discussions with Vail Resorts and Triumph, has led to a plan to replace the housing units proposed for Booth Heights, and a search for other possible sites for workforce housing.
A recent memo to the Vail Town Council mentioned that the parcel remains owned by Vail Resorts and has a current approval. That got the attention of some opponents of the plan, who worried that the project might be built even if alternatives are found.
That isn’t the case.
No Booth Heights, if…
Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said, in short, that if an alternative to Booth Heights can be agreed upon, the Booth Heights project won’t be built.
That agreement, which would be between the town, Vail Resorts and Triumph, would have to provide at least as much workforce housing as the Booth Heights plan, and would have to be mostly move-in ready by November or December of 2022.
At this point, the most likely site for a Booth Heights replacement is a town-owned parcel adjacent to the Middle Creek Village apartments. That site is currently occupied by the Children’s Garden of Learning child care facility.
At this point, that facility would move to a proposed third floor atop the Vail Gymnastics Center. That prospect doesn’t thrill facility managers and parents, who worry about putting small children on a rooftop playground.
“We’re really trying to work with (the Children’s Garden of Learning), to understand their needs,” Vail Town Councilmember Kim Langmaid said.
Langmaid said she and other councilmembers are seeking a “win-win-win” solution for housing, child care, and the environment around the Booth Heights site. East Vail north of Interstate 70 is winter range for a herd of bighorn sheep. The fate of that herd was a cornerstone of opposition to the Booth Heights plan.
“I think we’ve been working very hard,” Langmaid said. “All the council is on board with this path. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t make everybody happy. But I think we can have a better outcome.”
Enhancing habitat essential
While replacing the units at Booth Heights is the first priority, a plan to enhance the wildlife habitat runs a very close second. That plan is expected to cover roughly 4,500 acres and requires approvals and cooperation from the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Given the involvement of the Forest Service, it’s going to take some time to get that plan finalized.
East Vail resident Anne Esson has been a critic of the Booth Heights plan, and was one of the first to raise the alarm when it appeared that project might still be in the town’s plans.
Esson said she was relieved to hear from Robson, and hoped that the Booth Heights property won’t be built.
“We’re going to be watching very carefully,” she said.
While replacing Booth Heights’ housing and habitat restoration are the top items on the town’s to-do list, the search for housing alternatives has also included a close look at other parcels in town, both town-owned and private property.
One of those sites is the west side of the Timber Ridge apartments. The east side of the roughly 10-acre parcel is now the Lions Ridge apartments. The west side remains and is ripe for redevelopment.
But, Robson said, nothing will happen at Timber Ridge until the units to replace Booth Heights are move-in ready, saying that site will be secondary to at least one project to be built first.
“We want to make sure residents have a great landing site if they’re currently living in a space that’s going to be redeveloped,” Robson said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.