Vail Valley Voices: Vail’s housing goal is possible
August 13, 2010
Editor’s Note: A work plan recently adopted by the Vail Town Council includes continued implementation of a strategic housing plan adopted in 2008. This is the second of a two-part series that chronicles Vail’s attempts to facilitate deed restricted housing to accommodate those who choose to work and live in Vail.
In 2007 during the 20/20 Focus on the Future visioning process, the Vail community recognized the need for housing as infrastructure.
As such, a housing goal was created that promotes community, reduces transit needs and keeps more employees living in the town.
Specifically, the goal aims to provide enough deed restricted housing for at least 30 percent of the workforce through policies, regulations and publicly initiated development.
One of the most important components of Vail’s employee housing goal is that it is achievable within the town of Vail. It won’t be easy and it will require the entire community to be committed to achieving the goal and realizing the benefits that come with a diverse spectrum of people living in the community.
The thought is that if there is enough deed restricted housing for at least 30 percent of the workforce, additional opportunities to add to the overall number of people living and working in Vail will always take place with employees who choose to live in non-deed restricted homes, both rental and for-sale.
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Providing deed restricted housing for at least 30 percent of Vail’s workforce is a challenging goal.
Today, there are 669 deed restricted employee housing units in Vail. These houses are a mix of for-sale and rental units. Of the 36 percent of the Vail workforce that lives in Vail, less than one-third live in deed restricted units. This means there are almost 1,300 (1,273 to be exact) employee occupied homes in Vail that are not deed restricted in any way.
In order for Vail to achieve its goal, an additional 736 new deed restricted beds must be established. This is a bed count and not a unit count because it is impossible to predict the configuration of the units that will provide the 736 new deed restricted beds.
Vail is almost built out. This leaves few opportunities to provide a large number of deed restricted units in any one location. The redevelopment of Timber Ridge along the North Frontage Road is the one exception to this. The proposed redevelopment of the eastern 5 acres will almost double the number of employees living in deed restricted rental housing at Timber Ridge. The western half of Timber Ridge is another 5-acre opportunity to add a significant number of additional deed restricted employee housing units.
The Chamonix neighborhood property near the West Vail roundabouts will provide for-sale opportunities for 56 families, not unlike the Vail Commons development above City Market and its 53 for-sale units.
The town has hired a civil engineering firm to design the roads and infrastructure for the housing units. Based on market conditions the town could break ground on the construction of housing units in 2011.
These homes will be a mix of two- and three-bedroom owner occupied homes.
To keep up with the housing needs of new employees, the town requires new development and redevelopment to provide deed restricted employee housing for a percentage of its new employees.
Recognizing the scarcity of available land and parking, at least one-half of the required housing must be provided on-site.
These requirements disperse employee housing throughout Vail and provide for some of the most environmentally friendly commutes possible.
The good news is that Vail continues to seek new opportunities to add deed restricted employee housing in Vail.
Through partnerships, acquisition, requirements and construction Vail is continually moving toward meeting and exceeding its deed restricted employee housing goal.
While Vail is focusing on keeping employees in Vail, we recognize the need to work on a regional basis to ensure enough deed restricted employee housing to keep Eagle County a vibrant community.
Miller Ranch in Edwards is a great example of the town of Vail working with Eagle County to deliver a great deed restricted employee housing option in the middle of Eagle County.
Vail continues to seek opportunities elsewhere due to the fact that not all of Vail’s employees can or will choose to live in Vail. We are committed to working with other communities to address the employee housing challenge.
Nina Timm is the town of Vail’s housing coordinator.