Vail council rejects housing, hotel plan, then asks developer to return in two weeks
What Vail rejected
The Vail town council rejected a Marriott Residence Inn Tuesday night. The extended stay hotel would have provided:
170 moderately priced hotel suites
107 employee housing units available to people working in Eagle County.
$1,500 a month, 1 bedroom
$2,000-$2,500 a month, 2 bedrooms.
6 unrestricted rental units
$110 million: Total cost of the project
VAIL — The Vail Town Council said Tuesday the town needs a moderately priced hotel, employee housing and more parking, and then proceeded to reject all three.
The Town Council voted 4-3 to derail a proposed 170-room Marriott Residence Inn, with 107 employee-housing units and underground parking.
After rejecting the project in its current incarnation, the Town Council voted 4-3 to ask developer Peter Dumon of the Harp Group to come back for its meeting Jan. 17 to talk about this more.
“There was no clear direction about changes they would like to see,” Dumon said. “We hope in our next meeting to hear what might make this approvable to the council.”
Just like this, but not this
Councilman Greg Moffet made the motion to approve the project, which was defeated by council members Dick Cleveland, Jen Mason, Kim Langmaid and Kevin Foley.
“We keep hearing, ‘We are all for something that does what this project does, just not this project,’” Moffet said. “We have to make peace with the fact that if we don’t want the government to tax us to death to provide housing, we have to be prepared to allow density.”
A project of this size would require special zoning. Vail last did this in 2005 for the Solaris.
Below market rents
A one-bedroom employee-housing apartment was projected to rent in the $1,500 range; two-bedroom apartments between $2,000 and $2,500 a month, Dumon said.
That’s 15 to 20 percent below prevailing rates, Dumon said.
“Our goal is to fill them with long-term renters,” Dumon said.
They asked the town to waive building permit fees for the employee housing, as it has for other projects, Dumon said.
“We’re not asking for Vail to write us a check. We want to write them a check consistent with other employee housing projects,” Dumon said.
Dumon said he and his team will be back in two weeks. Whether they can reach a meeting of the minds remains to be seen, he said.
“It’s disappointing,” he said.
Within 30 days of building
The idea is not new. Dumon and his partners acquired the Roost Lodge site in 2012. Their $110 million Marriott project was within 30 days of getting a building permit, he said.
They postponed construction when the Vail Local Housing Authority asked Dumon to add some employee housing, Dumon said.
“Vail has a crisis, and I was willing to take the risk. I did it expecting a lower rate of return. I felt it was to serve a community I have come to love,” Dumon said.
The last approval lapsed in June, Dumon said.
55 years of housing woes
Vail claims it needs 1,000 employee-housing units. Dumon was offering 107 while not asking for the town’s taxpayers to fund it, pointed out Vail Mayor Dave Chapin.
“We’ve been talking about housing for 55 years,” Chapin said. “This is an opportunity to address it with no money from the town.”
Chapin said that at some point the community may have to go into open space for employee housing.
Council member Jen Mason called the project “urbanization.”
“Urbanization?” Chapin responded. “We have an interstate running through our town. You can’t get much more urban.”
Cleveland voted against it, but not before saying it’s what Vail needs.
“We need this project on so many levels, and we’ve been trying to get something like this here,” Cleveland said. “Everybody wants affordable housing, but they look to the taxpayers to pay for it.
“This is the first private developer who has been willing to do this.”
However, Cleveland said he concurs with those who say the developer is trying to put 10 pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag.
“I want to say ‘yes’ to this project, but I cannot say ‘yes’ to it in its current form,” Cleveland said.
Langmaid said she, too, would like to get to “yes” on this project.
“This is a forever project that will change the nature of that community, and I don’t believe we should rush into it,” Langmaid said.
Langmaid also said it might need to be smaller and fit in the neighborhood.
Tuesday’s setback will cost Dumon “a significant amount” of money, he said.
“If we have to start over it means doubling down,” Dumon said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached by phone at 970-748-2935 and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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