Vail Valley Voices: What’s real about Eagle River Station
May 15, 2012
Dear Editor and the residents of Eagle:
My name is Jeff McMahon, and I’m one of five managing partners of Trinity/RED Development, the developer of Eagle River Station.
We are now less than a week away from one of the most important votes in the history of the town of Eagle. I thought this would be a good time to reach out to you with my personal feelings and observations about the election and the recent developments.
Since we first came to Eagle six years ago, Trinity/RED has been committed to doing a successful project in the valley. We’re committed more than ever to doing one today and we are as bullish on the project and its location as we have ever been.
Our unique brand of retail projects are designed to be part of the individual communities where they exist both aesthetically and culturally, and ERS will be no different.
I think this is the perfect time to make another attempt at dispelling the rumors and distortions I’ve heard about Eagle River Station.
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Many of the opponents of ERS do not live in Eagle, own property in the town, or even work there. I find it disappointing that so many people who don’t live in Eagle are trying to determine its fate while at the same time not offer up any better solutions.
Over the past couple of months since I last wrote to you, a lot has happened in the Eagle community.
There have been articles and rumors of an important retailer in town needing to grow their store, the election of a new Town Board and mayor, and a land auction in an adjacent community.
Please let me address each of these issues as honestly as possible.
Eagle River Station is not 30 percent bigger than the first ERS: Opponents of Eagle River Station are saying that the current development is physically 30 percent larger than the first ERS plan, and that it is bigger than the Glenwood Meadows project in Glenwood Springs. That claim is 100 percent false, and it is very disappointing the opponents are knowingly spreading false information and misleading Eagle residents.
Here are the facts. The proposed Eagle River Station development is on the same 88 acre property and has the same height limitations, open space requirements and setback restrictions as the first Eagle River Station development.
It is physically impossible to grow the density by 30 percent with those restrictions in place.
What is 30 percent larger than the first ERS development is the amount of space that is designated for retail businesses. This change was made based upon feedback from the Eagle community, and will increase the sales tax revenue to the town.
The 30 percent increase in retail space reduces the amount of residential and hotel space from the first ERS plan, but it does not increase the physical size of the project.
Eagle River Station is not 80 percent bigger than Glenwood Meadows: The opponents are also saying that ERS is 80 percent bigger than Glenwood Meadows. Again, that claim is 100 percent false.
Here are the facts: We have received the Glenwood Meadows development plan from the planning department in Glenwood Springs, in its entirety.
The current phase of Glenwood Meadows is 100 acres with a second phase to follow that will be 52 acres, for a total size of 152 acres.
Eagle River Station’s two phases are a combined total of 88 acres.
The opposition is again distorting the truth by only comparing the retail components of each development, and saying that ERS is 80 percent larger. That is 100 percent not true, and extremely misleading. Glenwood Meadows at full buildout will be as big or bigger than ERS.
To show our consistent commitment for transparency, I invite anyone to visit our website or Facebook page for an accurate comparison of the two projects, or come by our office at 215 Broadway and we’d be more than happy to show you the aerial site plan and tell you more about the facts.
RED Development has some failed projects in default: As was reported approximately 60 days ago, we were in a strategic default situation on our project in Sparks, Nevada. At that time, I stated that it was a common negotiation process when dealing with a group of banks on a loan of that size, and I stated in public testimony that it would be resolved in the next 30 to 60 days. I’m pleased to say that is exactly what happened.
We’ve successfully negotiated a resolution to the terms of our loan, and we’ve put private funds into the project to make the loan sustainable.
The details of that loan resolution are required to remain confidential as the documents are currently being drafted. However, we anticipate a formal press release with more details will be made public within the next two weeks.
We can say that the resolution includes paying off any and all liens and bills owed to our consultants and contractors.
A negotiation like this is not uncommon in the commercial real estate industry even though this is the first time RED has gone through it while having over 30 projects in our portfolio.
These negotiations did not affect the performance of the shopping center, the sales tax generation or the repayment of the bonds. RED has also begun construction on the second phase of the project that will include approximately 200,000 square feet of new retail tenants and a 14-plex theater and Imax, which will open in spring 2013.
In the next column, I’ll address City Market, Tower Center and Tuesday’s vote.
Jeff McMahon is a managing partner of Trinity/RED Development.