Vail Resorts holds firm on building workforce housing in East Vail to support its operations
Resort company responds to town’s letter on housing alternatives
In the wake of housing shortages in Summit and Eagle counties — and to support its own staffing across both counties — Vail Resorts is pushing to build its East Vail workforce housing project.
The company provided a detailed, skeptical reply to a May 13 letter from the Vail Town Council offering alternatives to building housing on a parcel in East Vail.
The letter dated May 23 and signed by Bill Rock, Vail Resorts’ executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Mountain Division, states the company is willing to “engage” with the Vail Town Council on all its proposals.
But, he added, “The reality is that our employees and the community need all these projects,” adding that a 2018 Eagle County housing study predicts a shortfall of 5,900 units by 2025.
“Even if every option you outlined were pursued, there would still not be enough affordable housing” in Vail, the letter adds. “We need housing on all of those sites.”
The letter continues the company’s assertions that the East Vail housing project could be ready for occupancy by the start of the 2023-24 ski season, as well as the statements that project is “environmentally sound.”
“If the Town Council blocks approved affordable housing in East Vail, it will be lost forever,” the letter continues.
Before going into detail about the town’s proposals, the letter states Vail Resorts has to view any opportunities with town-owned parcels with some uncertainty. That’s due to the Town Council’s “abrupt reversal” on the East Vail project, as well as council member comments about the prospect of terminating the resort company’s leases in town-owned projects.
The letter expressed hope that the town will reconsider its decision to start condemnation proceedings on the property. Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid, along with Vail Town Council members Jen Mason, Kevin Foley and Jonathan Staufer voted in favor of the resolution to seek condemnation. Vail Town Council members Travis Coggin, Pete Seibert and Barry Davis voted against the motion.
The letter also takes a look at the proposals in the May 13 letter.
Those include, in order:
Residences at Main Vail
The company asks for information on the current town financing of the project. The letter notes that offering the entire project to Vail Resorts then takes away housing from other employers in town.
West Middle Creek
One of the proposals is to swap that site for the East Vail site.
Vail Resorts wants to see the parcel rezoned into the town’s “housing” zone district by September. In addition, the letter asks the Council to grant variances on the property exempting it from current limitations on parcels with slopes of 40% or more.
The letter asks for any design to include 165 beds above and beyond the number envisioned — up to 175 — in a 2018 feasibility study.
The letter notes that the West Middle Creek site isn’t yet zoned, and the East Vail site is. “How do you propose we account for that in a fair economic deal?” the letter asks.
Lionshead redevelopment plan
While the original approvals have expired for the Ever Vail project, town and company officials have had discussions about the roughly 10 acres just west of Lionshead.
“We believe Ever Vail is a transformational opportunity for Vail Mountain, spreading guests out across an additional base area,” the letter states, adding that the company remains “excited about making progress” on the project.
Timber Ridge redevelopment
The Vail Resorts letter asks for updates on the current progress for replacing the current 96 apartments, and how the project will be financed. The letter also asks whether there will be competitive bidding for a developer. Triumph Development, which in 2020 pulled out of a purchase contract for the East Vail site, has an agreement to negotiate for the chance to redevelop the property with at least 200 units.
Vail public works site
The letter questions whether the same residents who oppose the East Vail housing proposal might also object to new housing on that site.
“We need to understand how we could rely on the town to remain committed to a project on this site when those (residents opposed to East Vail) will invariably raise a new protest against affordable housing on this site…”
With roughly five pages of details, the letter again expresses the desire that “there is a path forward with both the approved East Vail affordable housing project and the other opportunities identified in your letter.”
Parcel: 5.3 acres in East Vail.
Owner: Vail Resorts.
What’s planned: Workforce housing for about 165 employees, as well as deed-restricted and free-market townhomes.
Proposed completion: The 2023-24 ski season.
Current status: No building permit applications have been filed.
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