Conference center or concert hall? |

Conference center or concert hall?

Edward StonerVail CO, Colorado

VAIL – Pam Stenmark said the Lionshead garage property isn’t living up to its potential.”It’s terribly underutilized right now,” said Stenmark, a Vail resident.But Stenmark hasn’t decided yet whether the town should commit to redeveloping it into condos, timeshares, a convention center, hotels, stores, restaurants and more parking.She’s waiting for more studies on the project to be released before she makes a decision. Two of those studies are appraisals of how much the town-owned property is worth.Stenmark and about a half-dozen other residents attended a public forum Tuesday to get more information on the proposal by Dallas-based Hillwood Capital/Open Hospitality Partners.The Town Council may decide March 20 whether to proceed with the plan to rebuild the parking structure. Dallas-based Hillwood Capital/Open Hospitality Partners is the only contender left after Beaver Creek-based East West Partners dropped out of the running last month.”I was sorry to see East West drop out because the debate was healthy,” Stenmark said.Residents had some concerns and ideas, but none said the town should or shouldn’t give the green light to rebuild it.Gwen Scalpello, a Vail resident, said she was worried about the size of the proposal when pedestrians would approach it from the east.”I’m concerned about coming from the library and all of a sudden seeing this monolith,” she said.She also wanted to know if there would be sufficient offerings for families who would be staying at the W or St. Regis hotels, which are part of the proposal.Stephen Connolly of Vail questioned the change from a performing arts center to more of a conference center as part of the project”I’m disappointed to hear the performing arts center has left,” he said.But Stenmark said she’d like to see the conference center be even bigger.Dave Chapin, a Vail resident, also said there’s a need in town for a performing arts center. He also wondered where the project would find – and house – the 700 workers it would need.”I’m a little bit leery about it, I have to tell you,” he said. But the project is a good opportunity for the town, he said.Town Council members are going to Dallas in a couple of weeks to check out Hillwood’s large Victory Park development there and will meet with city officials who worked with Hillwood on that project.=============Timeline• March 13: The Town Council will consider the results of several studies on the Lionshead garage project.• March 18-19: Town Council members and some staff members are scheduled to go to Dallas to check out some of Hillwood’s other work.• March 20: The Town Council is scheduled to make a decision on whether to proceed with Texas-based Hillwood Capital/Open Hospitality Partners on the project.=============Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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