Vision for resort could take different shape than its neighbors
AVON – Spicy, colorful, adventuresome – it’s what Harry Teague envisions East Avon could become in coming years, instead of the jumbled mass of confusing streets connecting strip malls.”But it’s going to take some guts to go there,” said Teague, an Aspen-based architect.Teague joined members of the Aspen branch of Design Workshop and traveled to Avon on Friday to host a public meeting about the future of East Avon.Sketches showed a new face of East Avon – one where all or at most the existing buildings still stand but new additions and alterations make it a destination, as opposed to a necessity – because that’s where the grocery store is – or simply a way to get from Nottingham Park to Wal-Mart.Sketches by Teague and Design Workshop showed three- and four-story buildings in bold, natural colors. Wide sidewalks allowed for outdoor seating for possible restaurants or spillover room for shops to show off their wares. Second-floor balconies provide shade over the sidewalks. Bridges connect one building to another, encouraging people to walk.Third floors show homes – possibly affordable condos that will allow people who work in Avon to live in Avon, halting a trend of people heading west to find housing and commuting into the Vail Valley.In two of the four alternatives for East Avon, the parking lot of the Sports Authority and Office Depot is converted into a public square with a playground for kids. Chapel Square gains a fountain that little ones can frolic in.”The valley really needs it,” Teague said. “It would be a magnet for people. When you provide it, people will travel to it.”In some plans, Chapel Square also gains a few more stories converting the building into a small high rise.”It’s creating potential for the mountain version of urban density, which is becoming so vital,” said Michael Hazard, of Vail-based Michael Hazard Associates. “These plans look great, but it takes two to tango, and for change to happen, it needs to be a win-win situation for everyone involved.”Trying to make redevelopment equitable, Don Ensign, a founding partner of Design Workshop, suggested offering incentives for building affordable housing and bonuses keeping the depth of retail shops at 25-feet.Although people who attended the meeting like the idea of parking structures, Ensign recommended on-street parking in front of shops and restaurants.”Locals are reluctant to park in structures,” he said. “They want to get in and get out and be on their way.”In the last week, Avon and Design Workshop staff has visited East Avon property owners to get their input on how the area should be redesigned.”They brought in a great team,” Hazard said. “It wasn’t a willy-nilly, blue sky design. It was reality based. It respected boundaries and gave incentives, and because of these aspects, this has the ability to be a reality.”The town of Avon’s East Avon Master Plan calls for redevelopment that will enhance economic development, pedestrian activity, transit use and circulation, while complimenting plans for a town center at the west end of Avon to create a “heart” for the community, Avon representatives said.Michael Walter, of Walter Reality Group, Inc., which manages Chapel Square and Benchmark Plaza applauded Avon for taking this step, though he’s not sold on any particular plan just yet.”Avon lacks an identity, a core, a group meeting place,” he said. “I think it’ll be nice to get out of your car here (in the future East Avon). It’ll be nice to create an identity.”Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks was quick to remind people Avon is still at the very beginning of planning East Avon.”This is a concept plan, not an action plan,” he said. “There aren’t going to be tract hoes there next week.”Teague said Avon’s identity should be distinct from Beaver Creek’s or Vail Village’s thematic styles.”It’s like you took every color in the rainbow and threw it together and came up with taupe,” Teague said. “Everyone’s trying not to offend everybody else, and the result is bland. Young people want something different. They’re starved for a groovy place – something that’s not logs and stone. I want a place like that, and I’m not alone, there are millions of us.”
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It’s hard to fight City Hall and even harder to fight well-funded neighbors who don’t want any development near them, a local man has realized. So he settled for less than what he and his partner bought the property for.