Avon hangs gondola in limbo | VailDaily.com

Avon hangs gondola in limbo

Nicole Frey
East West Partners/Special to the Daily

AVON ” East West Partners wants to buy a high-speed gondola.

The company has plans to build shops, restaurants, homes and hotel rooms on a piece of land in Avon along the Eagle River known as the Confluence, which is on the west side of Avon Road. East West Partners wants to use the gondola to entice people to buy or lease property there, said East West Partner’s Chuck Madison.

The developer has also promised the gondola ” which will takes skiers and snowboarders to the Beaver Creek Mountain Express chairlift at the base of Bachelor Gulch ” will be ready for the 2007/2008 ski season.

But the developer risks falling behind schedule because the Avon Town Council can’t make up its mind. Madison said the gondola should have been ordered in January and that the absolute deadline is March 1. But because the council won’t approve or deny the Confluence project, Madison said he is being kept in limbo.

For the second time, council tabled East West Partners’ request to start building on the 18.9-acre parcel that is now basically vacant most of they and sometimes used for parking for Beaver Creek Mountain.

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“There’s still a lot of open items,” Councilman Mac McDevitt said. “And if you don’t table it, you’ve got to put in a whole lot of stipulations. So I thought it was better to table it.”

McDevitt’s fellow council members also all voted to table the issue until the Feb. 28 meeting, but wouldn’t go into what “open items” remain.

Former Avon councilman Peter Buckley, who opposes the Confluence development, likens the proposal to a fancy, red sports car that you’re eager to have until you see the price.

“It’s sticker shock. It doesn’t look like a good deal for the taxpayers from a sales tax point of view,” said Buckley, who also dislikes the more than $3 million East West Partners is asking from Avon in the form of tax breaks to help construct the Confluence.

But Madison said the public benefit the Confluence will provide the town will be well worth the investment. In addition to luring people to spend money in Avon, East West Partners is constructing a bike path and park which will be given to the town. The developer also plans to open more views of Beaver Creek Mountain.

Madison admitted in the 16 months East West Partners has worked on the project, the Confluence’s appeal has waned, making it a financially tumultuous deal.

“This is the most risky project that East West Partners has ever undertaken,” he said. “The economics on this project are not great. In fact, they’re the worst we’ve ever seen.”

Nevertheless, the developer has already invested too much money to back out, Madison said. And so, he said, he will continue to wait and hope for Council’s OK.

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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