There isn’t much vacant land in Vail, but there are a few small pieces here and there. One of these pieces, owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation, is a possible location for workers’ housing.
City and state officials have been talking about the location for some time, but ideas are starting to mature.
In fact, there are three lots on Columbine Drive, at the foot of the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70. Speaking to the Vail City Council on Nov. 2, George Ruther, Vail’s housing director, said the city and state were speaking once over about 1.8 hectares of land. The property is now about 1.2 acres because state transportation officials are using the rest to improve I-70. Part of this land is needed for open space and possible bank protection along Bighorn Creek, so only more than an acre is available for construction.
Ruther said the city signed a deal with 359 Design from Boulder, who helped with other projects in Vail.
This company has made some initial designs for possible apartments on the property. All of these homes would be legal restricted to people working in Vail and Eagle Counties.
A sketch shows a row house development with 18 units. Another shows a 24-unit mix of townhouses and condominiums in the “flat” style. A third drawing shows a 36-unit, three-story complex of all apartments.
But every possible project starts with the city and the tourist office agreeing on the price. The city has to pay a market price for the property, which is determined by independent appraisals.
Ruther said the city and transportation authorities spoke of a baseball stadium worth about $ 2.5 million. But, he added, that award was based on the city acquiring the entire 1.8 hectares of land. With more than half an acre off the table, the price should go down a bit, he said.
In addition, the city must contact any other tax authorities that the country belongs to. Ruther added that Colorado law requires that the state be given the right of first refusal to buy any land that its authorities dispose of. Ruther said the state is willing to forego it if the land for sale is used for residential purposes.
Although no action is expected in the near future, Ruther added that the process is “moving as fast as we can push it”.
Councilor Jenn Bruno said the discussions were “a great way to show that home and space can coexist,” adding she hoped the new city council – four members will sit on December 7th – continue the project.
“I am going for a walk with my dog there,” said Councilor Brian Stockmar, adding that he thought the location was “very practical”. However, Stockmar added that the council should closely examine the density on the parcels as well as the potential impact on Bighorn Creek.