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Why I oppose Crossroads

Andy Wiessner

There are times in life when you have to just say no, and that’s why I’m voting against the current Crossroads design on July 11. It’s just too big, and sets a bad precedent. The new Tivoli Lodge, and the Willow Square and Sonnenalp additions finishing construction just across the street from Crossroads, PROVE that you can keep projects to four-five floors and preserve our town’s character. But the Crossroads developer won’t voluntarily scale his building back, and that’s why we’re appealing it to the voters.We compete directly with resorts like Breckenridge, Telluride, Steamboat, Aspen and Sun Valley, and I think they’ll be the future places of choice if we urbanize too much. I don’t want to see us become like Beaver Creek! I became involved with Crossroads when I witnessed the Vail Plaza Hotel climbing ever higher into the sky, and saw the tangible, city-sized building that is fast becoming Vail’s new model. Too many floors. Too many walls rising straight up from the streets – with minimal landscaping and no setbacks. You can’t landscape buildings this big! Mammoth, impersonal, industrial strength, big boxes of buildings. In your face! THE TYPE OF BUILDINGS WE CAME HERE TO GET AWAY FROM! Which neighborhood’s next? The Roost Lodge? West Vail? Lionshead Garage?I’ve met with Peter Knobel twice, and I like him. He’s extremely charming and engaging, but stubborn too. Almost right off the bat, he told me he could knock approximately 43,000 square feet (roughly two floors) off the building and still do fine. He’s said the same to others! When I asked him why he wouldn’t compromise, he simply stated: “I won’t,” because “I don’t HAVE to”! I was stunned with his candor. I got the impression that “winning” – on his terms – is what really matters to him. Why else would you tell people you could compromise, and then one month later, send a mailing to Vail voters threatening that if Crossroads isn’t approved, quote: “the project is dead,” and a redevelopment of Crossroads may “never happen.” Hardball campaigning!So I don’t see this debate being about the skating rink, bowling alley, movies theaters and other “amenities” that Crossroads will provide. ALL of those can be accommodated with a six-floor building instead of the eight floors being proposed. What it’s about, pure and simple, is cramming in another two-three floors of condos because a stubborn developer wants a “win.” But it isn’t a “win” for Vail. According to the town planning department, on its south side, Crossroads will have seven MAJOR roof peaks, with elevations topping out at 86, 104, 106, 111, 106, 104 and 88 feet above its skating rink. To get a handle on that, look at Sonnenalp and Willow Square. They’re only 48 and 52 feet, respectively. The result: Crossroads will have approximately 3 acres – yes, 3 ACRES – of condominium floor space located HIGHER than the ROOFTOPS of Sonnenalp and Willow Square. Further, Crossroads will be tall for approximately 390 feet in length, or 1.3 football fields – all with little or no street setbacks. Moreover, the top six floors of Crossroads are all condo space. No hotel rooms, no employee housing units on site – just high-priced condos. Space that will be occupied by absentee owners just a few weeks a year! Go to a concert in the new Crossroads “town” plaza and you likely won’t see the mountains to the north. Forget about it! All you’ll see are empty condos! Four-five floors higher than Willow Square and Sonnenalp, and five-six floors higher than La Tour Restaurant and Pismo Glass just across the street!Now, Mr. Knobel says he’s gone through two years of “compromise.” Has he? He started with a completely outrageous proposal, and “compromised” it down to a somewhat less outrageous 100-foot, eight-story, 8-acres-of-floor-space behemoth! Please remember, three out of seven Vail Town Council members, including our mayor, strongly oppose the project in its current form. REAL compromise would be good for the community, but it won’t happen unless the voters require it.BOTTOM LINE: You don’t have to be “Old Guard” to think a building is too big and will change the character of our village. The voters will soon decide whether they want an industrial-strength town, or something a little lower profile – like the Tivoli, Sonnenalp and Willow Square! If Mr. Knobel gets his “win,” I’ll shut up and go my merry way. But I’m voting “No” because I think his building sets a VERY bad precedent, and because we shouldn’t be approving city-sized buildings that will turn us into more of an urban community. Don’t let Vail’s “new dawn” become Vail’s new “downer”! Andy Wiessner is a public lands consultant who lives in Vail.Vail, Colorado


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