What will Timber Ridge become in the future?
Vail looking at ways to maximize new housing on the site
Whatever the Timber Ridge apartments become, it’s a safe bet that all the new units will quickly be occupied. But what kind of units should replace the existing 96 units remains an open question.
The Vail Town Council took a look Tuesday at data in a market study by Western Spaces, LLC, that could guide the redevelopment of the property.
That study shows what many of us already suspect: There’s a great need for housing in Vail and Eagle County, and the need may be greatest among people on the lower end of the income scale.
10.9%: Decline in Eagle County jobs from 2019 to 2020.
1,809: Accommodation and food services jobs lost during that period.
16%: Eagle County accommodation and food services jobs, the largest industry sector.
$1,250: “Affordable” rent for households with incomes less than $49,999
Source: Town of Vail, Western Spaces, LLC
That data is likely to guide what seems to be a sentiment on the council to maximize density on the current property. The current thinking is to build 200 units or more on the property.
But building that much housing comes with costs beyond dollars and cents. If the current complex doubles in density, it’s likely to come at the expense of parking.
Vail Housing Director George Ruther noted that the Lions Ridge apartments on the east side of the Timber Ridge property were constrained in unit numbers by the town’s parking requirements.
“I say (we get) as aggressive and creative as we can by maximizing homes,” Council member Travis Coggin said, adding that putting as many units as possible on the site could be a “catalyst” for new ways of thinking about mobility in town that doesn’t require cars.
Council member Kevin Foley largely agreed but noted that most residents will need a vehicle from time to time. Foley added that those who want parking for private vehicles should pay extra for spaces.
Michael O’Connor of Triumph Development, which is working on the project, said current drawings are just a “test fit” for what could be on the property.
There’s still a lot of room for new ideas as town officials consider options for the property. That process needs to answer questions including whether some units should be sold — with deed restrictions, of course — or whether part of the project should be dormitory-style housing for seasonal employees.
Among the biggest questions will be how to finance the project, and how much should pay its own way.
But, Coggin said, the biggest issue should be finding the best way to put as much housing as possible on a limited parcel of land.
“I don’t think we can afford to not maximize (housing)” on the site,” he said. “We need to look at all these crazy ideas (from elsewhere).”
Council member Jonathan Staufer agreed, saying “If there’s an opportunity for density (in Vail), this is it.”
While many questions need to be answered, the clock is ticking on the project.
Ruther said the goal is to open the new Timber Ridge, moving residents there into the Residences at Main Vail project. That project is set to open in the fall of 2023.
Ruther said if work starts in September 2023, it will be two ski seasons before the site is open for residents. A delay until April of 2024 could conceivably leave the site without residents for just one season.