West Vail Marriott proposal still evolving
Developer Peter Dumon said the on-line presence is a chance to present information about the project. He added that the website and Twitter account are also a way for people who don’t go to town government meetings to provide feedback to local officials.
VAIL — A plan for new hotel and apartments project continues to evolve as it makes its way through the town’s approval process.
The Harp Group, a Chicago-based firm founded by Peter Dumon, owns the former Roost Lodge site in West Vail. That group was weeks away from starting construction on a new Marriott Residence Inn, when Dumon happened to have a conversation with Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom. The two talked about the town’s housing shortage, and Lindstrom asked if Dumon if the project could include more than the required amount of employee housing.
That conversation led to a proposal last year to build the hotel, as well 113 apartments on the site. Of those apartments, 106 would be deed-restricted, meaning they could only be rented to people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week in Eagle County.
That proposal was modified a bit by the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. If the plan had fit into existing zoning, then the project wouldn’t have required Vail Town Council approval. But because Dumon’s group was asking for some zoning variances, the company applied what Vail calls a “special development district.” Those require town council approval.
When the council held its first public hearing on the topic on Dec. 20, there was a mixture of support for the housing and vocal opposition to the building’s size, height and traffic impacts.
Supporters included the housing authority, the Vail Chamber & Business Association and the Vail Valley Partnership, the valley-wide chamber of commerce.
Opponents were primarily neighbors and other West Vail residents.
After a pair of public hearings, the Vail Town Council Jan. 3 voted 4-3 to reject the first proposal, but asked Dumon’s group to come back Tuesday with some adjustments to the plan.
What council members will see at that meeting is a slightly smaller building.
The height has dropped, from a maximum of 59.7 feet to a structure that’s no more than 48 feet tall. The current proposal also has 11 fewer apartments, but retains the 170 hotel rooms that were first proposed. The plan also retains its originally-proposed 360 spaces of underground parking.
Dumon said this proposal seeks only a couple of waivers from existing zoning.
The first is a variance regarding how much of the existing site is covered by building. Dumon said the above-ground portion of the building meets town requirements for open space and building setbacks from the parcel’s property lines. The waiver is needed for the underground parking, which will sit beneath virtually the entire parcel.
That’s consistent with other large projects in Vail, Dumon said.
The other zoning variance is for the size of the retaining wall on the north side of the property. Dumon said this plan asks for a lower-than-required wall in order to enhance views and exterior lighting for ground-floor units. Those apartment units, he said, will have small patios.
Responding to council members’ concerns about access to the building from North Frontage Road, Dumon said his company will pay for a second left-turn lane to the east portion of the building if the town wants it. The Colorado Department of Transportation, which controls access and parking along the frontage road, has approved the single left-turn lane in the existing proposal.
While the building has lost a bit of size, it remains a large structure. But, Dumon said, the building is within a few feet of meeting existing zoning for the property.
Former Vail Town Council member Susie Tjossem spoke to the current council at its Dec. 20 meeting. Tjossem at the time said the proposed building is simply too large for the site.
In a phone conversation, Tjossem said the new proposal is a good start, but she continues to worry about how a very long building will look to both residents and interstate travelers. But, in an email following that conversation, Tjossem wrote that the proposed building is still too big for the site.
Dumon said if the council blocks this proposal, then he’ll return with a hotel that meets current zoning regulations. But, he added, that building would include only the few required employee housing units on site, not the nearly 100 that are being proposed.
“That’s not what I want to do,” Dumon said. “I think it’s a good project … we’ve listened, and we’ve made numerous changes.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.