Developer tries to quell fears | VailDaily.com

Developer tries to quell fears

MINTURN, Colorado – The new developers of a proposed private ski resort at Battle Mountain vowed Thursday to complete the project. But a few things need to happen first, and that’s going to take some time.

Project manager Dave Kleinkopf and Crave Real Estate founder Lorne Bassel held a community meeting at the Minturn Inn on Thursday and packed the room. People were there to hear from the new team responsible for turning several thousand acres on Battle Mountain into a resort.

Crave took over the project earlier this year from Florida-based developer Bobby Ginn, who had shepherded the plan through its initial town approvals and a successful vote to approve annexing the land into the town. But Ginn’s projects elsewhere have hit rocky times financially, and Lubert Adler, a Philadelphia-based private investment company that financed the project, decided to give the project to Crave.

Kleinkopf talked about himself and Bassel – both ski-industry veterans who have had a hand in developing resorts at Winter Park and Copper Mountain and in Europe. And he discussed how the plans for the resort have – and haven’t – changed.

Bassel said he believes the days of big condo-hotel developments in resort areas may be over. The plans for Battle Mountain call for a slower-paced project driven by desire to

be there rather than investment potential.

The slower pace also may be simpler. Kleinkopf said there may not be many fixed lifts at the ski area. He also said plans for a golf course may be shelved. But, he said, Crave plans to re-create Bolts Lake as both water storage and a place for recreation.

But before any of that happens, there have to be a few positive steps.

First, the Battle Mountain project needs to secure water rights. A hearing in state water court may not take place until early 2011, Kleinkopf said.

Also in court, Battle Mountain has to prevail in a lawsuit that’s challenged Minturn’s annexation of the property. The company already has won its case in District Court, but the case is being appealed. Until that case is settled, no one knows whether Battle Mountain is actually part of Minturn.

Finally, the economy has to turn around. But Kleinkopf said the plan is to have all the litigation, work with the Environmental Protection Agency on rebuilding Bolts Lake and negotiations with the town finished in order to make a splash in a revived resort real estate market.

After the meeting, Minturn resident Deb Davis said she heard a lot of good information.

“I think we’re all just curious to learn more about the project,” Davis said.

Asked if she believed the new developers’ pledge to complete the project, Davis hesitated for a moment and said she did.

“I think this is a more realistic approach than the old one,” she said.

Lifelong resident Randy Quintana is withholding judgment on the new developers in town.

“I think it’s too soon to tell” if this group will finish the project, Quintana said. “I just don’t want them to sell to (Vail Resorts).”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.