Vail Town Council gets first look at Booth Heights alternative plan
Much needs to be done, including plans for housing, environmental improvement and moving town's preschool
- Continuing: A multi-year process to complete wildfire fuels reduction and habitat improvements at Booth Heights.
- Aug. 4: Grant approval extending entitlements for Booth Heights housing.
- March 1: Approvals for new homes at Middle Creek.
- Sept. 15, 2021: Negotiate an option to redevelop the western half of the Timber Ridge apartments.
- Nov. 2022: Complete construction of new housing at Middle Creek.
After months of work to find alternatives to the Booth Heights housing plan, Vail officials have a framework of a plan, with several big “ifs” attached.
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday heard a presentation about the draft of a non-binding “memorandum of understanding” from town housing director George Ruther. Work on that plan began in January when councilmembers instructed staff to work on a three-way agreement between the town, Triumph Development and Vail Resorts.
Vail Resorts owns the Booth Heights property, a 23.3-acre parcel in East Vail just north of the Interstate 70 interchange. Triumph has a contract to purchase the land, and led the effort to move the housing plan through the town’s approval process.
Town officials have worked with Triumph over the past several months. But Councilmember Kim Langmaid Tuesday acknowledged that Vail Resorts has had “no part” of the discussions that led to the draft agreement.
Time to review
Langmaid also urged residents to get a good understanding of the seven-step process needed to get to an agreement that ultimately would include creating housing equal to, or greater than, the number currently approved for Booth Heights — 144 beds — and eventually transfer the Booth Heights parcel to the town’s ownership.
Until that happens, the draft agreement anticipates extending current approvals on Booth Heights. The draft anticipates building housing on a parcel just west of the existing Middle Creek Village apartments. The idea is to build at least as many units as were approved for Booth Heights, and more if possible. The goal is to have those units finished by November of 2022.
To build on that site, the Children’s Garden of Learning preschool will have to move. The current idea is to put the child care facility in an expanded Vail Gymnastics Center. That work needs to be done before construction begins at the Middle Creek site.
The draft agreement also anticipates a years-long effort of wildfire fuels reduction and habitat improvement in the area. The town, the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working on a plan that will ultimately lead to work on roughly 4,500 acres in the area of East Vail north of I-70.
In addition, the completed agreement would work to reimburse Triumph for its costs during the Booth Heights approval process. The deal also envisions giving Triumph the first option — but not a guarantee — regarding rebuilding the west half of the Timber Ridge property.
Even more deed restrictions
The draft agreement also sets a goal of adding 450 deed restrictions to the town’s inventory. Ruther said a substantial number of those units will be from the Middle Creek units, and adding at least 100 units to the 98 units currently on the west portion of the Timber Ridge property. Ruther said other deed restrictions could come from rezoning parcels around town to the town’s housing zoning. That zoning requires deed-restricted workforce housing, with some offsets for free-market units. With zoning reserved for workforce housing, Ruther said the actual building could be done over the course of several years. Ruther added that the agreement could include deed-restricted units outside of Vail.
While the agreement won’t be binding, Ruther told councilmembers that the document will help keep all the parties on track to work for the main goals of environmental improvement and housing.
The draft of the agreement is now available for public review, and will be discussed in detail at the council’s July 21 meeting.
Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said the current draft is a place to start.
“We’re not across the finish line by any means,” Chapin said.
While Vail Resorts hasn’t been involved to this point, Chapin said the company wants its executive team to review the work done so far and suggest changes.
Changes are almost certain, perhaps from all parties to the agreement. And, while councilmembers didn’t have much to say Tuesday, they did expect changes after taking public comment.
“I anticipate a rather large public input session on July 21,” Chapin said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com.