Lions Ridge

Gorman & Company, Inc. Partners With Town Of Vail And Wright And Company To Build 112 Unit Deed-Restricted Employee Housing In Vail, Marking Vail’s Largest Employee Housing Project Ever

VAIL, Colo., Sept. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire

– Gorman & Company, Inc., an affordable housing development leader for over 35 years, has partnered with the Town of Vail and local developer Jen Wright and Wright and Company for the redevelopment and new-construction of Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes on a 5.24-acre parcel on Vail’sNorth Frontage Road opposite Vail Mountain, which is the eastern half of the existing Timber Ridge employee housing complex. All costs of construction will be borne by the developer while the town will lease the underlying land to the developer with payments deferred up to 10 years. The town has invested $8Million in the parcel to insure the units remain deed restricted housing.

The groundbreaking, held Tuesday, September 16 at noon, was open to the community as a celebration of the Town’s housing milestone. Construction begins immediately.

“This is a phenomenal project for Gorman & Company, Inc. in that it involved complicities that the Town of Vail Councils and staff for many years, and the associated Town and community planners and financiers all solved. The result will be a beautiful housing project benefitting the community of Vail for the long-term,” said Gary Gorman, chief executive officer of Gorman and Company, Inc.

Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes will be comprised of 112 deed-restricted units and a manager’s unit, will be constructed by Gorman General Contractors with construction management by the local firm of RA Nelson. The project, comprised of one and two bedroom units will include four, three-story tall buildings. The Town of Vail will continue to own and operate 95 rental units on the western side of the property.

“Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes will be for the year-around employee in Vail who wants to live and work in Vail for the long-term,” said Jen Wright, principal of Wright and Company, the locally-based developer. “They will be ‘loft-like’ with galley kitchens, washer-dryers, storage and, generally-speaking, nice apartment homes which appeal to the Vail residents who are established here.”

Vail Mayor Andy Daly, echoed Wright and Gorman’s sentiments. “I couldn’t be more proud of this monumental accomplishment knowing that our investment on behalf of the Town of Vail taxpayers is fundamentally sound and will become part of this community’s legacy,” he said.

Construction to begin at Lion’s Ridge

By: Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily, September 15, 2014

VAIL — It’s been more than a decade since a big rental housing project was started in Vail. And, like anything in Vail, this project has carried plenty of controversy.

Town officials and developers Tuesday will hold a ground-breaking ceremony for the Lion’s Ridge apartments. That 113-unit project, on the eastern half of the 10-acre Timber Ridge property, will essentially replace the old units — which date to the early 1980s. But instead of units geared toward seasonal workers, these new apartments are aimed at year ‘round residents.

Every unit in the new apartments will have its own laundry equipment and furnace. The new apartments will also feature a small storage area for every bedroom.

At a Vail Town Council meeting in November of 2013, community development department director George Ruther noted that the plan for the new apartments is to present an in-Vail option to people who can live elsewhere.

That’s a scaled-down vision from several more ambitious plans floated over the years.

Those plans began percolating in the early years of the previous decade. Then, the original owner of Timber Ridge was ready to put the property on the open market, since federal tax incentives that kept the property in the “affordable” housing pool were set to expire.

Former Vail Mayor Rod Slifer recalled that town officials at the time believed the town wouldn’t be able to replace those 198 units of employee housing, and decided to buy the property.

“The council at the time felt it was important to keep it there for housing,” Slifer said.

Since then, there have been at least three proposals to replace the apartments with everything from rental housing to entry-level condos. All those proposals ran into various roadblocks, most having to do with the cost of building in Vail.

The most recent proposal — the one breaking ground Tuesday — is more modest. Developers Jen Wright and Gary Gorman brought the essentials of this plan to the Vail Town Council in 2013. Even after approval in November of 2013, more hurdles cropped up.

The project was supposed to break ground in May, with an eye toward the first tenants moving in in time for the 2015-16 ski season.

But ground breaking was delayed, due to what Wright said were difficulties with possible lenders. In late summer, Wright and Gorman asked to modify the original agreement, extending the terms of the ground lease for the apartments from 35 to 50 years, and adding an option for the developers to buy the property within the first decade.

That purchase price is about $5 million, roughly half of what the town paid for that part of the property.

Developers said both those changes were essential to get the project running. And plan supporters on the council have argued that contributing property, in whole or part, is standard practice in building workforce housing in mountain towns. However, the prospect of selling town land was a sticking point for some residents and a couple of council members.

Second-term council member Margaret Rogers first ran for office in 2007 pledging to get a Timber Ridge plan in place. She opposed the latest deal, both because of the potential cost to the town and the fact there aren’t more units being built.

Rogers and fellow council member Dale Bugby were in the minority on council, and cast the dissenting votes when the plan was put up for approval.

Wright praised Vail Mayor Andy Daly and Town Manager Stan Zemler for keeping the process going through the most recent hurdles.

“We couldn’t have gotten this done without the town,” Wright said.

Slifer believes the deal remains a good one for the town.

“It’s been a good investment,” he said. “It’s terribly important to preserve rental housing in town.”

Craig Cohn, a member of the Vail Local Housing Authority board, said he’s also eager to see new housing built.

“As a member of the (board), it doesn’t really matter what the deal was,” Cohn said. The important thing, he said, is building new housing for Vail’s front-line workers

“The town of Vail is under-housed at this price point,” Cohn said. “The sooner we get going the better.”

And, Wright said, “the town will end up with a nice project. It’s going to be a great place for people to live.”

Timber Ridge construction weeks away?

Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily, July 31, 2014

VAIL — After several years and a few false starts, the job of replacing the Timber Ridge apartments should start in the next few weeks.

Work was supposed to begin in May to replace the apartments on the eastern side of the 10-acre parcel. That work was delayed when a development team led by Gary Gorman and longtime valley resident Jen Wright ran into unexpected hurdles obtaining financing for the project.

Wright said the hang-up primarily involved the length of the land lease for the new apartments. The original agreement called for a 35-year lease. But, Wright said, lenders all asked for a longer lease term. The Vail Town Council on Tuesday will be asked to extend that lease out to 50 years, which will enable the developers to complete their financing agreements.

George Ruther, head of Vail’s Community Development Department, said the lease extension could be a good thing for both the town and the developers. The developers get the extra years lenders require, while the town will get another 15 years of lease payments on the property.

If council members approve the deal, Wright said construction work could start in the next few weeks.

GETTING READY

While building hasn’t yet begun, Wright’s group has been working to get ready to tear down the eight existing buildings that will make way for four new ones. That work right now is focused on removing asbestos from the 1970s-vintage buildings, a project that came as something of a surprise to everyone involved. That work should be finished in the next couple of weeks, Wright said.

When work does start, Wright said it will take about a year to get the first of the planned 113 units ready to rent. Wright said most should be ready to rent by the time the 2015-16 ski season begins, with the rest coming to market during the season.

YEAR-ROUND TENANTS

When the new apartments are ready to rent, they’ll come to market with year-round tenants in mind. The new apartments will have storage lockers for every unit, and every apartment will get its own laundry equipment.

Town Council member Greg Moffet said more room and better amenities is a matter of “respect for the people we have working for us.”

Town Council member Margaret Rogers opposed the current plan, asking instead for more units on the property. Now, though, she said she wants this plan executed as quickly as it can.

While the eastern half of the property is ready to be rebuilt — and renamed Lions Ridge — nearly 100 of the older Timber Ridge units remain. While there was talk several years ago of re-doing the entire site, Ruther said the western half of the complex will stay as it is for the foreseeable future.

Ruther said the town — which owns the property — is putting about $1.3 million this year into exterior and interior renovations on the western half of the property. No one puts that kind of money into 92 units unless they’re going to stay in the rental pool for a long time.

But, with Vail Resorts leasing about half the units and individuals renting the rest, Ruther said revenue from the western half of the property pays the town’s remaining debt on the entire parcel.

SHORT-TERM IMPACT

While construction will take more than 100 apartments out of Vail’s rental pool for the coming ski season, Ruther said he expects people will be able to find other housing in the valley.

“We knew there would be some short-term impact, but this is the only way we can re-develop the property,” Ruther said.
When construction does begin, it will mark the end of a long period of planning and several false starts. Moffet said one such plan was well underway when he ended his first stint on council in 2007. And Rogers said she made getting Timber Ridge re-done part of her first campaign for a council seat.

“That was six-and-a-half years ago now,” Rogers said. “This has been a long time coming.”

Timber Ridge re-do to possibly begin in May

By:  Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily, November 19, 2013

VAIL ­— Ever since the town of Vail bought the Timber Ridge apartments, there have been plans, big plans, for what might come next on the 10-acre property. Those plans all failed. A more modest project may succeed where the big plans did not.

The Vail Town Council on Tuesday approved a development agreement with developers Jen Wright and Gary Gorman to build about 113 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the eastern half of the property. The new project could break ground in May of next year and be finished in time for the 2015-16 ski season.

While the new units will still be rentals, they’ll be aimed at a very different market. Timber Ridge now is aimed primarily at seasonal workers. The new market will be year-round residents.

The last plan proposed for the property had triple the units, as well as a parking structure. But there was also a gap of $8 to $10 million in the project’s cost that the last developer asked the town to make up, which doomed that proposal.

Reflecting on that and other attempts to re-develop the site, Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said those proposals in many ways were “more frosting than cake.”

Ruther said problems included everything from parking to snow storage to the ability to build units on what is in places a very steep piece of property.

This plan, he said, started from a more basic premise — what could realistically be built on the property without any financial support from the town except providing the land.

These units will be aimed at year-round residents, so each apartment will have its own laundry equipment and furnace, as well as a small storage locker for each bedroom. But the apartments have to be built to a price. That will limit the size of the buildings. It will also put tight limits on parking.

Wright said one-bedroom units will have one parking space each. Two-bedroom units will have about one-and-a-half spaces per units.

Council member Margaret Rogers asked if parking could be further tightened to provide more housing.

But Ruther said this amount of parking more accurately reflects the needs of the people who will live there.

Expectations

“You’re asking people to live in these units like we’d live in our homes,” Ruther said. “They’re going to expect what they can get elsewhere.”

Council member Dave Chapin said more units on the property would affect tenants’ quality of life.

But, he added, the current plan seems good for younger people living in Vail all year.

“You can figure out the parking,” Chapin said.

Given the target market for the new apartments, Rogers also asked where seasonal employees will be expected to live. Ruther said there’s a “great opportunity” to put more people into the west side of Timber Ridge.

There’s still a lot more work to do to get the new project ready for groundbreaking, and Ruther said there’s still plenty of opportunity for public comment.

The Vail Planning and Environmental Commission will hold its first hearings on the plan Dec. 16 and 18.

But Jim Lamont, the representative for the Vail Homeowners Association, said this is an important first step, especially given the need to either restore or replace the structures now at Timber Ridge.

“If this is a realistic thing to get done, then let’s get it done,” Lamont said.

Vail Town Council to weigh new plan to redevelop Timber Ridge housing project

By RealVail, October 14, 2013

Plans to redevelop the easternmost portion of the town-owned Timber Ridge affordable housing complex will take a significant step forward Tuesday, Oct. 15 when the Vail Town Council considers approval of a pre-development agreement with a third-party development group.Since February, the town has been working on a redevelopment plan with representatives from Wright and Company, Inc., and Gorman and Company, Inc., after previous redevelopment attempts were discontinued due to financial considerations. The topic is listed sixth on the Oct. 15 Town Council meeting agenda, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers with opportunities for public comment. The current redevelopment proposal includes demolishing 102 existing apartment units located on the easternmost 5.24 acres of the site and replacing them with at least 104 units. The new apartments would be constructed within a mix of three-story buildings surrounded by green space and surface parking. Seventy percent of the units are proposed to be deed restricted which is consistent with the zoning. Under the proposed agreement, the town would retain ownership of the property using a long-term ground lease to facilitate the redevelopment. The property and improvements would revert to the town after 35 years in an arrangement similar to an agreement currently in place with Middle Creek Village Apartments which will be returned to the town after 53 years.Following approval of the Timber Ridge agreement by the Town Council, a development application would be submitted to the town on or before Nov. 29 with construction beginning as early as next summer.Meanwhile, the 96 units on the westernmost side of the site would continue to be used as employee housing to maintain an ongoing inventory of rental units on the property. The town anticipates redevelopment of the western half of the site in a future phase.Prior to negotiation of the pre-development agreement, the Town Council authorized a market study to be completed in partnership with the developer. The study analyzed rental pricing, historical occupancy rates as well as unit size and amenities to verify the project’s financial viability and its ability to meet the town’s goals and applicable code requirements.The project team has had previous development experience in Vail, having redeveloped a property once known as “the ruins.” The condominium project, Westhaven at Cascade Village, was completed in 2007 following failed attempts from a previous developer.The draft of the Timber Ridge pre-development agreement, Resolution No. 13, Series of 2013, is available on the town’s website at www.vailgov.com. To forward comments in advance of the meeting, email the Vail Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com.