Vail in 2011 issues half the building permits seen during boom year of 2007

By Real Vail
January 27, 2012

The Town of Vail Community Development Department issued 686 building permits with a total valuation of $59.9 million in 2011. This is about half the number of permits issued during the highest year in Vail's history, 2007.

While 2004 to 2008 saw peak activity, Vail has been trending toward more typical averages in building permits and valuation over the past three years.

Current project valuations are also being impacted by a nationwide reduction in the cost of construction. Building fee collections totaled $1.9 million in 2011, compared with $2.1 million in 2010, a decrease of 11 percent. The Town of Vail has not adjusted its building permit fees since 2002.

While there is a return to more typical building activity, the Community Development has used the opportunity to improve its customer service. Internal process improvements and a streamlined review process have reduced permit review times by as much as 33 percent when compared to the review process in place as recently as a year ago.

The most notable change has been a reduction in plan review times from three weeks to less than two weeks and the introduction of an over the counter permit for certain types of construction work. The reduction in permit review times is something customers have been asking for, says Community Development Director George Ruther.

“We're being responsive to the input and based on the improvements we've made internally we believe we will be able to provide this same level of customer service when an increase in activity occurs," Ruther said.

Over the past four years development projects in Vail have been smaller in scope and size, according to Ruther. He notes the boom years of 2004 to 2008 were not anticipated to last forever. Consequently the Community Development Department added contract positions to respond to the boom and to react quickly when the time came.

The surge was driven by large projects such as The Arrabelle at Vail Square, Solaris, Ritz-Carlton Residences, Four Seasons and The Sebastian. The next project of such magnitude is likely to be the Ever Vail development which is currently being reviewed by the Town Council and is proposed to be built in phases.

Building activity in 2012 is anticipated to include several town-initiated projects including a remodel of the Vail Library, improvements to the Lionshead streetscape entries and renovations at Ford Park.

The town has adjusted to the current growth pattern by reducing the Community Development Department staffing from a high of 20 full-time equivalent positions in 2007 to the current 13 full-time equivalent positions. As such, the department is continuing to streamline its procedures to increase efficiencies and improve customer services.

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