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March 6, 2012
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Vail town land sale takes a big step

VAIL, Colorado - The Vail Town Council Tuesday took three big steps in its efforts to re-make the town hall property.

Council members gave initial approval to an ordinance approving the sale of roughly a half-acre on the west end of the town hall site to a partnership between Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Foundation. The sale price is $5 million, and closing is expected in March of next year.

Before that sale closes, though, the Town Council must give second-reading approval to the ordinance - which is expected to take place March 20. The council then must pass a resolution authorizing town manager Stan Zemler to complete the deal.

Explaining the deal, Mayor Andy Daly said the sale is viewed as a way to boost the town's long-term economic health. Doing that means keeping the Steadman Clinic and its associated foundation and research institute in town for a long time.

"Vail Resorts and the winter operation is what keeps our town moving," Daly said. "But the number-two business is medical. ... We're doing this to ensure these economic drivers are part of our community for a long time."

Lyon Steadman, CEO of the Steadman Clinic, said the clinic and its other operations are dedicated to a future in Vail.

"This will be the thing that allows us to grow, and continue the growth we've had to this point," Steadman said. "Before we can start this project, we're doing to have to spend $11 million before we put a shovel in the ground."

Rob LeVine, a member of the Vail Economic Advisory Council, complimented Town Council members for the move.

"It's gratifying to see you willing to embrace something that's a little out of the box," LeVine said. "This is a great way to ensure our future economic success."

Along with the new medical office building, town officials also want to rebuild town hall, which dates back to the 1970s. To move that project along, the Town Council on Tuesday also picked an architect and project manager for that job.

The council picked OZ Architects of Boulder and CP Vail, respectively, for those jobs. Both those companies were recommended unanimously for the work by a committee made up of Town Council members, town staff and town residents.

While the recommendations were unanimous, Avon architect Mark Donaldson asked the council to reconsider.

"We want everyone to know there are qualified local firms here," Donaldson said. "We can do this project start to finish... And our fees are competitive."

Ultimately, though, the council picked OZ. Community Development Department Director George Ruther said the selection committee believed OZ was the most qualified to meet the town's standards, which went beyond just price for the work.

Council member Ludwig Kurz, a member of the selection committee, added that OZ brought something else to the table.

"They were the only group, based on preliminary plans, to propose a reduction in square footage," Kurz said. "That caught the committee's attention."

Council member Susie Tjossem and other council members said they'd prefer to award the work to local companies. But, she said, "It's hard to second guess the committee... Listening to people who were on the committee, I think they've swayed me that this is in the best interest of the town."

The same arguments were made for CP Vail. And, while Vail-based Triumph Development is doing the work for the medical office building, and had applied for the project management job for the town, Kurz said he and other committee members believed it was important to have a separate company handling the town's affairs.

"It was a very fair, very diligent review," Triumph CEO Steve Virostek said. "We look forward to working with them. ... We got beat, and beat fair and square."


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 6, 2012 09:57PM Published Mar 6, 2012 09:56PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.