Vail Daily column: Another building boom?
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
There are indications that Vail may be on the verge of another building boom, even though real estate sales show signs of flagging. Increasing congestion due to a lack of structured parking and traffic circulation improvements as well as affordable housing remains a hangover from the last boom. The absence of off-street parking requirements for outdoor special events is also a cause of congestion. The Town Council has allowed the proposed Simba Run Underpass to clear another hurdle in the approval process to fund the project, which engineers say will help reduce circulation congestion.
The costs associated with the resolution of these issues will have a determining outcome on additional large scale development within the community. Changes in public policy to address these issues may well be the subject of the upcoming fall Town Council election. The election will be poll voting, rather than mail balloting, even though mail balloting has been shown to increase voter participation. Mail balloting also extends the time for electioneering, giving the voters more time to assess the qualifications and agenda of council candidates. A recent change in the state voting law, now allows qualified voters to add their names to an absentee voter list that will ensure they are always sent an absentee ballot by mail in future town of Vail elections.
Recent developments suggest that another Vail building boom might be just around the corner. First, there is the already approved master plan for the Vail Valley Medical Center additions. Phase one, the West Wing addition, is soon to begin but the plans for other parts of the expansion, especially parking and affordable housing appear to be in flux. At present the Vail Valley Medical Center plans envision parking to be provided on its campus but that will be a costly venture; estimates currently run at $120,000 per space which means that the Vail Valley Medical Center parking requirement of 600 spaces could cost $72 million.
The site for Vail Valley Medical Center’s affordable housing has yet to be announced; and recently the Vail Planning Commission reduced those requirements almost in half by cutting the town staff’s recommendation of the method to calculate the requirements. It remains to be seen whether these components will be built on site or whether the Vail Valley Medical Center will seek off-campus alternatives.
In West Vail, the east half of the Timber Ridge redevelopment is well on its way to completion; it will provide 113 living spaces, bringing the total for Timber Ridge to 209 units. Yet to be decided is what will become of the west half of the site long-term. At the same time, the Town Council has authorized moving ahead with developing a detailed plan to install the utility infrastructure for their Chamonix affordable housing development in West Vail, located near the new fire station.
If the plan meets the council’s financial parameters, then they will initiate utility installation this year and begin construction on the first phase of the housing units in 2016. The council is also considering amending the current plan which will increase the size of the project by 20,000 square feet and raises the unit count from 53 to 67.
In Lionshead, the Strata project (formerly the Vailglo and Enzian Lodges) is coming out of the ground and a number of other projects, holdovers from the Great Recession of 2008, are in the development pipeline awaiting financing and a decision to get underway. And, in Vail, plans for the Vail Municipal site continue to evolve. Site clearance is also complete on the Roost Lodge site where a new Marriott Lodge is to be built; however, the project is now on hold and developers do not intend to proceed with construction at this time.
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