Avon Town Council denies sales tax rebate
AVON — Avon denied a $500,000 sales tax rebate to a national retailer to move into the vacant Sports Authority space, but the retailer, Sun & Ski Sports, will be moving in without the financial incentive.
Council members were looking to return $100,000 per year for five years to Sun & Ski Sports as an incentive to move into the 33,000-square-foot space, part of the former Wal-Mart building in the Chapel Square area. However, after hearing from local businesses at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council voted, 6-1, to not approve the sales rebate.
‘FULL STEAM AHEAD’
“Traer Creek LLC announced that Sun & Ski Sports will still open its store in the vacant Sports Authority building,” Traer Creek said in a release.
In advance of the proposed deal, council members cited job creation and increased vitality in town as the reasons for possibly using town money to bring in Sun & Ski Sports, which sells technical and casual snow, cycling, running and fitness products as well as apparel, electronics and recreational water products.
“The risk of looking at empty stores is a risk that I didn’t think I was willing to take,” council member Sarah Smith Hymes said as she voted against the sales tax rebate Tuesday.
Fancher said in a letter to the Vail Daily that the deal bringing in Sun & Ski relied on the sales tax rebate, which proved not to be the case.
“We’ve got everything full steam ahead,” said Brian Stein, district manager for Sun & Ski. “As we get going, we’re looking forward to serving the community.”
UNFAIR to Avon Business owners?
Council member Matt Gennett said the deal was “inherently unfair” to financially help a national retailer when local businesses do not get the same deal.
“It’s a really bad deal,” said Mike Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports, “and there’s a lot of people that are really hacked off about this.”
Business owners were not upset about possible competition, as there are already about 10 ski and cycling stores in town. However, they were upset about the town paying to bring in a store that provides nothing new to the town.
“Put something in there the community needs,” said Harry Sandell, of Always Mountain Time Radio. “The town deserves better.”
Business owners and residents showed their displeasure with the town for possibly spending $500,000 to fill the space.
“It’s not so much what you’re doing with the resources you have,” said Keith Leifer, CEO of Christy Sports, “It’s what you’re not doing. Half a million dollars goes a long way for what the community needs.”
Leifer added that money could go toward school programs, transportation or affordable housing.
While creating jobs is seen as a benefit of Sun & Ski moving in, some business owners are concerned that there’s plenty of business to go around, but not enough employees to work those jobs.
THOSE IN FAVOR OF FILLING VACANT SPACES
Some business owners supported the sales tax rebate to help bring in Sun & Ski.
“What I think about as a resident and business owner is that we can’t risk having these big box stores be vacant,” said Kent Beidel, owner of Loaded Joe’s.
Council member Scott Prince, the only member of council to vote in favor of the sales tax rebate, said The Nest, which neighbors the vacant Office Depot and Sports Authority spaces, wrote a letter in favor of the rebate because of the negative impact the vacancies creates for its store.
“Everyone wants to see those spaces filled,” said Dan Brewster, owner of Haute Route Gear and Apparel. But, he added, giving a rebate to Sun & Ski is a “smack in the face to everyone who puts their heart and soul into their business.”
With Sun & Ski set to move into Chapel Square without the sales tax rebate from the town, the Office Depot space remains vacant.
“While it may not be perfect,” Beidel said, “the big picture is that those spaces being empty are not good for the community.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.