Businesses living in limbo in Vail |

Businesses living in limbo in Vail

Preston Utley/Vail DailyRae Madison of Hothouse Flowers of Vail is glad to stay at the old Crossroads.

VAIL – When developer Peter Knobel put plans for a new Crossroads on hold, he put the plans of a lot of the current tenants into limbo, too.For Rae Madison, limbo isn’t such a bad place to be.”As much as I’d love to see it replaced, selfishly, I’m glad to stay for a while,” said Madison, owner of Hothouse Flowers of Vail.Madison opened the doors of her flower shop late last year. Until she’s better established, she’s glad to stay in the old Crossroads.”People can find us,” she said. “They can park right outside.”While Madison’s happy to stay in Crossroads as it is today, “I would love to come back to a new Crossroads,” she said.But for the immediate future, the old Crossroads isn’t going anywhere, and Knobel has sent letters to all his tenants, asking them to renew their leases until 2008.Brad Ketelhut, who runs The Englishman antiques store, plans to renew. He likes the location, he’s been in the space for nearly 10 years, and besides, he doesn’t see a good alternative.”I came back to Vail this summer (from Naples, Fla.) to find a new spot, thinking the new plan would be approved,” Ketelhut said. “There’s nothing in Vail like this.”For Ketelhut, even the prospect of losing his site for two years or more of renovation would have been worth the trouble.

“We have a reputation. That’s what brings people back,” Ketelhut said. But the uncertainty about Crossroads has kept some plans on hold.”We’ve been holding off doing anything to the space,” he said, pointing to the carpet in the store.Shutting down for two years isn’t a really good option if a new Crossroads is ever built. For now, though, staying is the best bet.”There really are no other options,” he said.Options are scarce even for tenants with smaller spaces. “We’d have to go to West Vail if we couldn’t stay here,” said Jeannie Robbins, owner of Eagle Valley Music. “There’s a lot of uncertainty right now.”And that’s nothing new for Kell Purcell.”I’ve kept my life in limbo for the last two and a half years,” said Purcell, manager of the Haagen Dazs store in Crossroads.Between being moved out of a storefront facing Meadow Drive, the uncertainty of Crossroads and other construction projects, Purcell said the store’s business is down 65 percent. Mostly, he blames the Vail Town Council for the drop-off.”I’m terribly disappointed in the town council,” Purcell said. “I really support Peter Knobel. He’s one of the few people who really brought something to the table.”

Purcell isn’t sure what his boss wants to do with the Haagen Dazs store. But Purcell doesn’t like what he’s seeing in town these days.”I’ve lived here 20 years, and I don’t see much future in Vail,” he said. “I think the climate for small business is pretty bad now.”Ketelhut said he’s seeing a general decline for people in the retail sales business in Vail. “We’re running out of retail space here,” he said. “There’s the same problem in Naples.”So for now, even an old Crossroads is at least a place to do business in Vail. And the business owners and managers interviewed for this story said Knobel has been a good landlord.”We’re very happy with Peter as a landlord,” said Andrew Karow, manager of the Vail branch of Alpine Bank. “We’re committed to staying in Vail no matter what, but for the foreseeable future, our intent is to stay in Crossroads.”What’s there40,500 square feet of retail and theater space13,500 square feet of office space

22 condominiums100 surface parking spacesPrivate parking spaces in the structureStaff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or Colorado

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