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June 18, 2014
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A looming building boom?

A crane sighting in Vail recently inspired a builder who was working out on a stationary bike to have an excited conversation on his smart phone.

The gist was that the crane — tearing down the Lionshead Inn and VailGlo Lodge to make way for new construction — is a great sign indeed.

Time to get busy, finally.

The builder was fired up, but of course it remains to be seen whether this is the beginning of a new era or just an anomaly.

April’s real estate figures are encouraging, though, even if a happy coincidence in the timing of big property sales to produce the highest dollar volume in a month since July 2008, just before the collapse.

The drumbeat of improvement in the real estate economy has been steady for awhile now, as foreclosures thankfully have fallen off, shopping around has picked up, inventory has been shrinking and now it looks like prices are beginning to rise.

The developers of the property in Lionshead sense opportunity in a tightening condo market and display confidence in the economy at large. But they also have to build now or pretty much start over through the approval process for their project, The Lion.

Considering the risks, they’ve tipped toward tearing down the old and getting busy building the new. Units should be available for sale in late 2016, if all proceeds on schedule from here.

There are a fair number of developments that have been approved along the length of our 50-mile valley, awaiting that turn in the economy which the developers of The Lion are betting on now.

Of course, Avon leads the current pack o’ projects with the Wyndham time-share condo building rising from an odd little space tucked next to the Seasons. Construction is scheduled to finish just ahead of the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships next February. While less visible than Vail’s return to major development, Wyndham’s developers will earn credit as the first, much like the Antlers $22 million renovation in 2000-02 led Vail’s $2 billion or so renaissance.

Eagle’s Haymeadow is the latest big project to grind through the approval process, which took nine long years and then a fumbled petition drive for a referendum to reach the point it can be built when its developers are ready.

Eagle River Station, Wolcott, Battle Mountain, Village at Avon and Ever Vail also loom at one level of likelihood or another for construction in the next decade. Taken together, this would qualify as a genuine boom with all the challenges that come with that, in addition to the jobs and economic boost to the valley.

Mind you, these and some other projects are all approved. Essentially, construction can start as soon as their developers see opportunity outweighing the risks.

If it’s not quite time yet to buckle up, best begin fishing out the seatbelts again. This could be quite a ride.


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 18, 2014 08:54PM Published Jun 18, 2014 03:03PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.