Where will Vail’s cheap housing be?
VAIL ” Vail’s new affordable homes could be next door to multi-million-dollar condos in Vail Village. They could be in a condo complex in Intermountain. They could be in a new building on town land.
They could be geared toward seasonal workers or families. They could be for sale or for rent.
The employee housing that’s created under the stricter rules the town is proposing could take lots of different forms.
Developers could satisfy the requirements by putting housing within their developments or they could put them elsewhere in town or pay a fee to the town that would be used for employee housing.
“It’ll have to be seen how developers react to that,” said Steve Lindstrom, a Vail resident and a member of the Vail Local Housing Authority. “Some will want to do some of each.”
For “off-site” housing, developers could “buy down” condos to turn them into deed-restricted homes. They could also buy condos and rent them out.
It’s good to stay flexible because Vail’s housing needs might be different in a few years, Lindstrom said.
“You need to be able to react to things,” he said.
The rules can provide for different kinds of housing, Lindstrom said.
“Our hope is that there will be enough latitude in this that there will be some diversity,” he said. “Different developers will come up with different solutions. Over time there will be different needs. We need housing across the board.”
The town is supposed to give final approval to the new rules on Tuesday. The rules would include two methods:
– Commercial linkage: Developers provide housing for a certain amount of jobs they create;
– Inclusionary zoning: A certain percentage of new homes have to be affordable.
The rules would only apply to dense areas such as Vail Village, Lionshead and the West Vail mall area.
But the cloudy picture of the specifics for employee housing doesn’t sit well with some.
The town needs to figure out who it wants to house and where it can be can be done, said Bill Jewitt, a Vail resident who serves on the town’s planning commission.
“It’s frustrating to start at question six when we haven’t answered questions one through five,” Jewitt said.
It’s doubtful that developers would want to put housing within their developments, he said.
“The real estate is just too valuable,” he said. “I don’t think, realistically, you’ll ever see a lot of that.”
The middle bench of Donovan Park could be used for affordable housing. Jewitt admitted that the area has “high political risk” because some neighbors want that area to stay open space.
The town purchased that land in 1980 for $3.875 million with real-estate transfer tax money.
“The town is the owner of some land, but none of it is without political hurdles,” said Nina Timm, housing coordinator for the town of Vail. “Someday, someone is going to have to have the hard conversation about some of that.”
The Texas developer that wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking garage is offering to rebuild the Timber Ridge employee housing complex, doubling the number of people who could live there.
The town also plans to build affordable housing on the Hud Wirth site ” home to Wendy’s ” in West Vail.
Mark Gordon, a town councilman who has pushed for stricter employee housing rules, said the questions of who and where can be figured out later.
“It’s going to be a little bit of everything,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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