Redesign for aging mall in the works

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Vail town officials may create a plan that would entice property owners to redevelop the aging West Vail shopping area to look more like Riverwalk in Edwards.
Preston Utley/Vail Daily

Edward Stoner
October 2, 2005

VAIL - Town planners envision a Riverwalk-style development in West Vail that would transform the aging business area that spans from the Holiday Inn to the building containing Vail Valley Ace Hardware.

Town officials are creating a design for West Vail in an attempt to entice property owners to revitalize the retail area in a coherent way. A plan could dictate the types of buildings and the scale and style of the redevelopment. Owners of the Holiday Inn, the West Vail Mall and the Roost Lodge say they're considering renovations.

The concept is similar to Riverwalk in Edwards - small, city-style blocks with retail space on the first floors, and office and condos or apartments above. Some of the blocks would have plazas in the middle.

"These are the first timid steps to getting to a plan for the West Vail area," said consultant Jeff Winston of Winston Associates in Boulder, who helped the town come up with the idea.

The area includes land where the Holiday Inn/Apex Vail, West Vail Mall, Safeway and Vail Das Schone building are now. The Vail Das Schone building contains Vail Valley Ace Hardware and other stores. The area extends from the North Frontage Road to Chamonix Lane.

A "main street," which would be open to one-way vehicular traffic, would run from west to east in the center of the development area. Several roads would bisect the development, connecting the Frontage Road with Chamonix Lane.

The plan is divided so that it could be developed piece by piece as each owner decides to rebuild, planners said.

Declining sales

Winston said the West Vail plan won't attract big box stores such as Wal-Mart or The Home Depot, but rather smaller chain stories and other small businesses.

Planners said they want to ensure West Vail remains appealing locals, while allowing property owners to build enough stores and apartments to entice to make redevelopment profitable. Retail sales have dropped significantly in West Vail from 2001 to 2004, town officials say, a decline some have blamed on people doing more shopping in Edwards and other downvalley areas.

"We want to create a place that is exciting whose backbone is retail," said Ian Thomas, a retail consultant who helped the town with the plan.

The concept has street parking and a garage at the north end of the Das Schone property. Buildings closer to the Frontage Road would be taller, and buildings farther north would be shorter, so as not to block homeowners' views of the mountains.

"Overall, we're very encouraged by the plan," said Mark Cervantes of Holiday Inn/Apex Vail. "It's in essence creating a third place for a vacationer to come. It also services the needs of the local resident."

Councilwoman Kim Ruotolo, who lives in the Chamonix area, said she likes the general idea of the plan, but there needs to be discussions with the public and on council. She said she thinks Chamonix-area residents will oppose any plan that would increase traffic on residential streets.

"I think you'll find that a difficult sell to the community," she told planners at the meeting. Under the ideas put forth, cars would be able to reach Chamonix Lane from the redeveloped shopping complex.


What's next

Community meeting on ideas for West Vail will be held later this month. The date and place haven't been determined yet.

Town planning officials will present the ideas to Town Council later this month.

Several property owners have said they will redevelop soon, but planners expect changes envisioned in a master plan to take place over the next 10-15 years.


Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or

Vail, Colorado