West Middle Creek gains momentum toward future housing development in Vail
Vail Town Council approves changes to allow the property to hold housing, child care
The Vail Town Council took its first steps toward bringing housing to a parcel of land in West Middle Creek.
On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Town Council approved a resolution as well as an ordinance on first reading that will redesignate and rezone the parcel to accommodate future housing and child care developments.
The entire property was deeded to the town in 1974 as part of an agreement with Vail Associates but was subsequently split into various lots throughout the years.
In 1986, the entire property was zoned as Natural Area Preservation open space in the Vail Land Use Plan. In 2001, the town approved a land use amendment as well as rezoning and subdivision requests to accommodate the Middle Creek Village Apartments housing project and the Mountain Bell telecom tower. The site was further split in 2020 when a portion of it was subdivided to allow for the Residences at Main Vail to be developed.
However, while the remaining parcels in the property remained zoned as open space, the opportunity to bring additional affordable housing to the site has remained a continued conversation in the town.
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Specifically, the town has been eyeing the 17.87-acre site, known as West Middle Creek, for housing. This space is located north of I-70, between the Middle Creek Village Apartments and the Solar Vail Apartments.
In 2018, the town contracted an architect to conduct a feasibility study on the site. At that time, the study determined that the site could be suitable for as many as 175 units of housing. Mayor Pro Tem Travis Coggin said on Tuesday that this study was more a function of determining whether the site could house a building rather than determining exactly what building or buildings would ultimately be developed there.
The parcel also became part of discussions earlier this year between Vail Resorts and the town of Vail. After the town voted to condemn an East Vail property owned by Vail Resorts in May — on which the company expressed intentions to build workforce housing — the town offered up alternative housing options. One of these alternatives was a land swap for the East Vail parcel with this West Middle Creek site.
The resort company, however, responded to this alternative (and the others provided) with skepticism, remaining firm in its intent to build in East Vail. One of Vail Resorts’ concerns with West Middle Creek was that it still faced a number of obstacles to being development-ready, including rezoning, development review and understanding other potential site-specific challenges and unknowns.
With this week’s Town Council approval of the rezoning, subdividing and land use amendments, momentum is building to bring housing to the site. The Town Council approved two changes on Tuesday, both of which had been reviewed and approved by the Planning and Environmental Commission in December.
The first change, by resolution, amended the Vail Land Use Plan to redesignate portions of this subdivision from Open Space to High-Density Residential.
The second, by first reading on an ordinance, approved rezoning requests, which rezoned certain parcels from natural area preservation to housing, from natural area preservation to general use, and from general use to natural area preservation with respect to a parcel north of the current Middle Creek Village development. With all changes considered, this totals a net increase of around half an acre of open space in the entire property
These requests also included a minor subdivision request, proposing that the lot be divided to allow for both future housing developments as well as an early childhood facility.
The Vail Town Council passed both unanimously on Tuesday night.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity and it’s a great location,” said Council member Jonathan Staufer.
While the next immediate step is for the rezoning requests to be approved on the second reading — scheduled for the Jan. 3 Town Council meeting — there is still much to do before the site is development-ready.
“The town will dust off the previously completed site feasibility study for the West Middle Creek site and continue exploring future residential development options,” said George Ruther, the town’s housing director. “Any future opportunity is also likely to include a request for proposals process to better understand what is truly possible on the site. At this time, a timeline for future development has not yet been set.”
Additionally, the town would also resume discussions with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“CDOT owns a significant portion of right-of-way immediately adjacent to the new site,” Ruther said. “If approved upon second reading, the Town will likely continue its conversation with the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding the possibility of partnering with them on a future deed-restricted housing opportunity on a portion of the site.”
Regardless of the work ahead, this week’s approvals mark a critical step toward enabling the future development of housing at the West Middle Creek site.