Prominent developer proposes ‘D’ word
VAIL – “Developer” and “density” are dirty words in many mountain communities, but another D-word, downzone, is now being used by a prominent developer from Vail and Beaver Creek.Harry Frampton, managing partner of East West Partners, says it’s time to slow the growth in the Eagle Valley, where Vail is located. The population has been nearly doubling for every decade since Vail opened in 1962 and at the current pace is projected to hit 80,000 within a couple more decades.”It makes me nervous … I’m not sure we’ve thought through the implications,” Frampton told a recent gathering in Vail.
As the developer of homes mostly for the super-wealthy, particularly in Beaver Creek, Frampton’s firm has helped cause Eagle County’s growth-on-steroids population gains. But he points to Breckenridge, where his firm has also developed, as a place that got it right.Breckenridge, he said, had a potential to grow to 50,000 but instead has targeted 25,000 to 27,000. “They did the unthinkable. They downzoned. They purchased conservation easements and transferred some development rights …” he said. “We need to learn from our friends in Breckenridge and go through this very messy and complicated process. We will be 100 times better off if we do.”
VAIL – In the wake of 9/11, when construction of second-home mansions nearly ended and tourism slowed down, a bevy of affordable housing sprouted in Vail and the Eagle Valley even as vacancy rates soared. Amid all this, Vail noisily debated a giant for-rent affordable housing project located prominently near the town’s main roundabouts along Interstate 70. Critics said it would sit empty, and others warned that the 142 units would become a seasonal housing ghetto.Time will tell on the ghetto part, but the 142 units are definitely not sitting empty. Occupancy was at 97 percent in January.
BERTHOUD PASS – The U.S. Forest Service is clamping down on sledding at the former Berthoud Pass ski area. The agency took the stance recently after learning that an 8-year-old child had suffered spinal injuries. The child apparently slid across a berm of snow and into the windshield of a parked car. There have been a broken arm and other injuries as well.”The injuries were almost a weekly event,” said Brad Orr, a Forest Service employee. “The speed at which they were coming down the hill, over the berm and into the parking lot, we had no choice but to close it down before somebody got killed.”In a somewhat parallel case, the Forest Service closed down a popular sledding area near Vail, at the former Meadow Mountain ski area, after being sued as the result of a sledding accident. A private operator was recently given a concession to institute order and address safety – but at a price.
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