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Vail Valley developments may compete for tenants

Scott N. Miller and Pam Boyd
Vail, CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Gentlemen, start your leasing agents. A competition for retail tenants at two large commercial developments is about to begin.

In one corner is Eagle River Station on the east side of Eagle. That project, which includes at least one “big box” store and several hundred housing units, is currently making its way through the town of Eagle’s approval process.

In the other corner is a new contender, Vail Valley Station. Trademark Property Company of Dallas last week announced it had entered into a joint venture with property owner Magnus Lindholm to develop about 80 acres into a combination of retail, residential and office space.

Both developers have ambitious plans that include opening the first stores by the end of 2009 or the first part of 2010. Both may end up competing for some of the same stores.

The Eagle River Center plan includes a “big box” store. With a Wal-Mart and Home Depot just to the east, Vail Valley Center developers say they’ll be concentrating on smaller national stores for their project.

“We’re looking at electronics stores, linen stores and pet stores as possible tenants,” Tommy Miller of Trademark said.

And, while no one in the commercial development business will name tenant names before contracts are final, those are stores such as Circuit City, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Petco.

Those are the same kinds of tenants being talked about for Eagle River Station.

But, with many of those retailers in Summit County and Glenwood Springs, is there room in the Vail Valley for the same stores within a 20-minute drive of each other?

Vince Riggio of Trinity/RED, the developer of Eagle River Station, said his group isn’t particularly worried. He said market studies show there is pent-up demand for 1.3 to 1.4 million more square feet of retail space in the region. With that in mind, Riggio noted that Eagle River Station only needs to address one-third of that need to make financial sense.

But in luring some of the same clients ” both development groups were in Las Vegas this week for a trade show ” the companies are touting the old real estate maxim of location, location, location.

A press release last week from Trademark ” sent out during the trade show ” touts the Avon property’s proximity to Vail and Beaver Creek, as well as the fact more than 4,000 feet of the property is adjacent to Interstate 70. The release doesn’t mention that the highway is significantly higher than the property to be developed.

Trademark officials also believe building in Avon will make their property more convenient for shoppers in the upper valley.

Riggio and his team are making their own arguments.

“We have a flat, highly visible site with superior access,” Riggio said.

Bill Clinkenbeard, who was a key player in developing Cordillera, has been working for the Trinity/RED team at Eagle, so he’s not an impartial player.

“But I’ll take us any time because of location,” Clinkenbeard said. “When you can see it from I-70 you have a big advantage.”

Both projects still have some work to do, though. If approved by the Eagle Town Board, the Eagle River Station project will almost certainly be subject to a special election challenging the decision. Vail Valley Center has zoning in place, but will have to hammer out details with the Avon Town Council.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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