Vail’s answer to housing woes: annex some | AspenTimes.com

Vail’s answer to housing woes: annex some

Edward StonerVail correspondent

Aspen, CO ColoradoVAIL Vail officials are exploring the other side of Dowd Junction – outside the Vail Valley – for an affordable housing enclave.An owner of the River Run Apartments contacted the town this month about an annexation that would allow some of the homes to become affordable housing, said Russ Forrest, Vail’s community development director.The apartments are almost two miles west, along Interstate 70, from the town’s western border. They have long supplied less-expensive rental homes to area workers. The owner, Steve Milgrom, plans to remodel the apartments and sell them as condominiums.”He approached us and said he might be interested in keeping it as affordable housing, potentially looking at annexing it into the town of Vail,” Forrest said.Milgrom did not return a phone call Thursday.Jim McVey, listing broker for the project with Slifer Smith and Frampton, said Milgrom has considered making homes in two of the six buildings available for developers to “buy down” to make them affordable for local workers.”His idea was maybe if this was in the town of Vail, it would afford some development opportunities to perhaps buy down the cost of some of these units where it would be more affordable for locals to acquire and live in a quality environment,” McVey said.Homes in the two buildings that aren’t on the Eagle River – which include about 44 of the 117 apartments – could be offered up as affordable housing, McVey said.’Great opportunity’In February, Milgrom announced a plan to remodel the apartments and sell them as condominiums under the name The Canyons at River’s Edge. Renters were told they would have to leave.But that plan fell apart after financing for the project didn’t come together, McVey said. The project is expected to return to the market in February or March, McVey said.Vail Councilman Mark Gordon said the annexation seems to be a good idea. “It’s a great opportunity to create another neighborhood,” Gordon said.It could complement the redevelopment of Vail’s Timber Ridge affordable housing complex, Gordon said. The Town Council recently nixed a plan that would redevelop Timber Ridge into a mix of free-market and affordable homes, saying it didn’t include enough affordable housing.Costs vs. benefitsMilgrom was interested in creating deed-restricted homes and then selling housing credits to developers who need to fulfill Vail’s affordable-housing requirements, Forrest said.”It may have some value to other developers in the community that just need a physical location for their affordable housing,” Forrest said.The Town Council is creating new employee-housing rules that would require developers to provide more affordable housing.Annexing the property into Vail may give the land more liberal building rules. The owner seemed to want to build a new housing complex on the land, he said.”It sounded like that would eventually be his interest,” Forrest said.McVey said he wasn’t aware of any plans to build something new on the property.The town would probably have to annex land along the interstate corridor, and not Forest Service land, Forrest said.”It sounds like there’s a legal avenue to consider it,” he said.Annexation costs would include fire, police, buses and other municipal services.”You have to look at the cost of municipal services versus the benefits derived from it,” he said.The town will now decide whether there’s enough interest to move forward with the idea, Forrest said.