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Village on the move

Nicole Frey

The circular building with the sod roof next to Wal-Mart still looks far from habitable, but developer Traer Creek is getting closer. While the list of businesses moving into Traer Creek Plaza isn’t finalized, the developer has nailed down some shops and eateries who have committed to opening their doors in the new building. Offices will take up the second floor while stores and restaurants will occupy the ground floor. Once businesses start opening, the garage beneath the building will also be open to the public. Dan Christopherson, spokesman for Traer Creek said some ground-floor businesses could be moved into Traer Creek Plaza as early as June, but it all depends on securing a temporary certificate of occupancy from the town of Avon. Avon building official Willey Gray recently met informally with Traer Creek’s vice president for construction, Erik Peterson, to scrutinize the building. Gray identified about 30 items that need to be completed before he’ll allow anyone to move into Traer Creek Plaza, said Jacquie Halburnt, Avon’s spokeswoman.Peterson said right now, the list includes obvious necessities, including completing the glass wall to the building’s lobby and installing the elevator and fire protection measures.According to Halburnt, Gray said Traer Creek should be able to take care of the 30 requirements in about a month. But Traer Creek Plaza will still have to endure a formal review process before anyone can move in.

Traer Creek plans to host a grand opening celebration in mid-August for the new building.What’s coming in?- Swiss Hot Dog: a fast food bratwurst and hot dog restaurant – 5 Spice Asian Bistro: the restaurant will focus on Northern Chinese cuisine, including noodles and stuffed buns- Zaccaza: the family-style Italian restaurant will include Chicago- and New York-style pizza baked in coal fired ovens and patio seating- Modern Classics: a home-furnishings store that combines modern European with organic and rustic styles- Game Stop: a video game retailer with more than 4,400 stores worldwide- Challenge Outfitter: a fishing and bird-hunting equipment and apparel store,- Village Liquors: a discount liquor store What’s taking so long?Initially planning to open its doors at the start of summer, Traer Creek Plaza is behind schedule. With building debris scattered around the semi-circular building near Wal-Mart, it will be more than a month before anyone can hope to start setting up shop.But Traer Creek has a good excuse. Although Traer Creek Plaza was scheduled to be completed earlier, the construction schedule was pushed back because of the complexity of the building, said Erik Peterson, Traer Creek’s vice president of construction.

Traer Creek Plaza’s unique architectural design uses no building columns, like in traditional buildings. Instead, imagine an archer’s bow. Eighteen bows make up the building’s curved roof, which is flexible, moving inches in any direction. And because the roof moves, everything below it, including walls and windows, have to move with it as well. It’s not the typical building. “It’s not quite like trying to support a water balloon, but it’s close,” Peterson said. “It’s a fluid building. We knew exactly what we were getting into, it just took longer to design these elements as we moved along. We knew it was going to be complex.”Christopherson said a problem with the building’s windows also slowed the process. “We were waiting for them to arrive, which slowed construction,” he said. “It was a big hang up.”The structure will boast floor-to-ceiling windows and an exposed heavy timber roof with a skylight spine running the entire length of the building.In addition to an ambitious building design, developers are trying to make Traer Creek Plaza an environmentally friendly building. The building is planned to be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, the leading assessor of green buildings. Traer Creek Plaza is also registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.In the end, the final product will be well worth the wait, Peterson said. “It’s one of the most unique structures west of the Mississippi (River),” he said. “I fully expect it to win awards.”Lawn on the roofPart of creating the environmentally friendly Traer Creek Plaza included adding a sod roof, which was installed last fall.When the roof went on, it was brown. Now as spring is settling in over the valley, the roof is still brown. But a fluctuation in color is on the way, Peterson said.Having been dormant during the winter months, the 17 species of sedum sod — plants that are more like a bean sprout than grass — will begin to bloom at the end of May or early June. Aided by warmer temperatures and a drip irrigation system yet to be installed, the roof will go from its rust brown to yellow, orange and green before returning to brown in the fall. “Just wait, it’s going to be beautiful,” Peterson said. “You’re going to like it.”In addition to the aesthetics of a sod roof, the plants provide a host of economic and environmental benefits. Perks of a sod roof-Stormwater management: Instead of rain running off buildings, picking up debris and oil from parking lots and taking the whole mess into the river, a sod roof uses to water to grow.-Decreased air conditioning costs: The roof acts as a barrier from the sun, reflecting the sun or using it for its own growth. The plants also use the water in their roots to cool the air. However, it doesn’t keep heat in any more than regular roofs.-Longer roof life: Daily and annual temperature fluctuations stress regular roofs causing them to expand and contract. Because sod roofs minimize temperature fluctuations, they last an estimated 100 percent longer. -Creates a habitat for insects, birds and other little critters we can’t see-Increased oxygen, carbon dioxide exchange: People need oxygen to breathe. Plants make it.-Aesthetic valueFor more information about sod roofs, visit http://www.xeroflora.com.



What’s next?With construction of Traer Creek Plaza in full swing, the developer is looking to the next phase of the Village at Avon – a development of residences and businesses northeast of The Home Depot and Interstate 70. Step No. 1 is to get a water tank built in the area. Without the water tank, no other building can begin, Christopherson said. Traer Creek recently met with the Avon Town Council seeking the go-ahead for the project, but councilors decided they needed more information before they could approve the project. Council tabled the issue until the first meeting in May, requesting details about the road leading up to the water tank and the tank’s aesthetics and visual impacts. “We think it was prudent and not unreasonable for them to ask for this information,” Christopherson said. But the request has delayed construction, stalling Traer Creek’s building schedule. “Until we get a water tank, we can’t do anything,” Christopherson said. “It’s got the whole thing kind of stopped, and we are nowhere close to coming back to the water tank.”If and when Traer Creek clears the water tank hurdle, the developer plans to construct four-plex homes that may be deed restricted to make it affordable to working-class locals, Christopherson said. The parcel may also have some neighborhood businesses, including a discount gas station, coffee shop and doctor’s or dental offices. The Avon town councilors have expressed their approval for affordable housing, but some debate the necessity of yet more businesses.Expected to be finished around 2015, the 1,800-acre development may total about 2,400 homes and about 650,000 square feet of commercial space. TimelineThis timeline was written in January and is subject to change. A revised timeline will be established when water tank construction begins. 2006-Tenants move into Traer Creek Plaza-If approved, water tank construction begins-Swift Gulch Road eastward extension to parcel RMF 1 begins2007-Water tank completed-Swift Gulch Road completed-RMF-1 infrastructure for residential and commercial construction starts

-Parcels H, I, J residential and commercial construction starts2009-H, I and J construction completed-Parcels D, E, F residential construction starts-RMF-1 construction completed2010-Development of roadway to mountain homes begins2011-D, E, F construction completed-Traer Creek Mountain, including RMF-3, sales begin2012-Roadway to Traer Creek Mountain residential completed-Parcels A, B and C construction begins2015-Parcels A, B and C completed-Village at Avon completedStaff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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