After a nearly two-year eligibility process – culminating in approval from the Eagle County Board of Commissioners in October 2021 – the land known as Edwards RiverPark has gone up for sale.
The nearly 105-acre site was once a gravel pit site, but after October approval, was titled as a mixed-use and residential project. As planned, the property has 55.27 acres of developable land to provide 11,500 square feet of retail and conference space (including 2,500 square feet dedicated to a daycare), open common space as well as 440 residential units. , 61% (or 270 units) of which the act would be limited.
These 270 staff units break down as follows:
- 90 price-capped rental units – nine price-capped rental units at 80% of average median income, 72 price-capped rental units at 100% AMI and nine resident-occupied units for sale with no transfer fee waiver.
- 98 resident occupied act restriction for sale units
- 82 resident-occupied units for sale or rent
The process to arrive at this plan involved 13 public hearings – with hundreds of public comments submitted — and many back and forths between the public, the curators and the promoter and developer of the project.
Among other things, residents have expressed concerns about increased traffic in the area (including the planned construction of a roundabout and expansion onto US Highway 6), the development’s proximity to an area wildlife and its overall impacts on the Edwards community.
From now on, the future development of property and housing goes through its sale.
The land was last purchased in June 2018 for $7.8 million, according to the Eagle County assessor.. The property was listed on June 14, 2022 and according to Steven Sendor, vice president of listing firm Fortius Capital Investment Services, the property is currently unpriced, but bid forecasts are set at 34.5. millions of dollars.
As for why the property is being sold, Sendor said it centers on the unexpected loss of “one of the project’s key partners” during the eligibility process.
RiverPark’s development on the parcel was initially led by Don MacKenzie of UpStream Development and Sierra Trail Investments, LLC, who died in July 2020. MacKenzie, Sendor said, was the “guy moving forward” and ultimately would have been “the one to capitalize it and build it.
While the remaining partners viewed the project through its rights, with this loss they believed the best course was to sell without having MacKenzie or a “key person on the project to see it through,” Sendor said.
Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr told the Vail Daily on Thursday that the property sold was not surprising to him, as the unexpected loss of MacKenzie caused the project to lose “the inertia that underpins it.” .
For future owners, however, Scherr said the process should be less contentious and require far less negotiation now that ownership is licensed.
“They did all the hard work and now anyone can figure that out and they can do the details, which is really more of a process,” Scherr said. “It’s less contentious because now you just have to comply with the construction and not (change) the PUD, which is really a big negotiation. From now on, it’s not a lot of negotiation.
According to Sendor, the land is not a publicly traded MLS property, but is instead marketed “directly to principals.” As such, Fortius Capital sent offer memos to “thousands of recipients”, including local municipalities.
Could the municipalities of Eagle County accept an offer?
Although it is still unclear who will buy the property, it is possible that municipalities in Eagle County will try to prepare an offer.
At its meeting on June 28, the Vail Housing Authority broke off the conversation at the direction of the city’s director of housing, George Ruther. Ruther said he received an offer package from brokers at Fortius Capital Investment Services and thought it was “an opportunity for cities and communities to consider and explore.”
“The conversation often comes back to the fact that what we need here in Eagle County is another Miller ranch and the reality is, unfortunately, we need three or four more Miller ranches. Although the Edwards RiverPark development, as it has been titled, is different in configuration, layout, density, product type and size, it represents an opportunity for great success,” Ruther said during the the June meeting. “These opportunities don’t come around very often, but maybe this is one we should discuss.”
The need, Ruther added, is also documented in the 2018 Eagle County Housing Needs Assessment and Solutions Report — which is also referenced in Fortius Capital’s offer package.
“There is currently an existing demand for nearly 5,900 additional year-round and seasonal resident units in the Eagle River Valley,” Ruther told the Vail Daily on Thursday. “The Edwards area has been identified as a preferred place to live by many year-round residents working in the eastern portions of Eagle County.”
The Vail Housing Authority has unanimously expressed a desire for city staff to further explore the opportunity, including researching possible financing, partnerships, opportunities that exist with the property outside of buying and Moreover.
Vail Housing Authority member Kristin Kenney Williams, who was a spokesperson for the project during the eligibility process, told the June meeting that the project of this size is “really difficult for the private sector to build. alone”, calling it “an incredible opportunity for the public sector to secure the ground.
“Having worked on this project, the original request versus what was approved is night and day and this is largely driven by dialogue both between Eagle County elected officials and the community, which we have not no need for more housing on the open market, we need accessible housing that a local can get into, both for rent and for sale; it’s really the project that has been approved,” said Kenney Williams, adding that there will be “many partners, companies and individuals who can make these 400 units a reality”.
Although the topic has yet to come before Vail City Council, Edwards resident Joanna Kerwin urged the city not to pursue the purchase of the property during the public consultation at the council meeting. the 5 of July..
“I think it would be irresponsible for the City of Vail to partner with other municipalities to buy the land, because even if the City of Vail and other municipalities buy it, it’s not affordable to build on it,” Kerwin said, adding later that the purchase “was not going to harm our current housing situation due to the fact that the land currently is and has been too expensive and cumbersome to build on.” .
In the weeks following the Housing Authority’s June meeting, Ruther told the Vail Daily on Thursday that the city’s housing department was “reviewing the details of the offer to better understand what is on offer for sale. and explore the lower valley opportunity”.
As with all potential housing opportunities, Ruther said this includes “exploring all options, both within the city of Vail and in collaboration with our partner communities down the valley,” which includes, has he added later, the city of Avon and the county of Eagle.
Avon City Manager Eric Heil said the potential partnership and purchase of the property “crossed our radar,” adding only that it’s something city staff are “aware of” and ” examined”.
Heil also added that Avon City Council would not meet again until July 26.
Scherr and Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney were unaware of any conversations in the county. McQueeney said any conversations about a potential partnership or purchase by the county were “all gossip at my level.”
“There may be conversations at the staff level, but I just heard the City of Vail is interested,” Scherr said. “I did not participate in any conversations if there were any at the county level.
An Eagle County spokesperson said “the county has had a brief discussion with the City of Vail regarding this personnel-only situation,” and there is “nothing to consider at this time.” at the county level.
Whether local municipalities decide to seize this opportunity has a tight timeline. Sendor said Fortius requested that the offers be received by July 29. So far, Sendor said the property has received “a ton of interest” and the company “expects a multiple offer situation.”
“We’ll see how it goes on the 29th,” he said.
Journalist Ali Longwell can be reached at [email protected]