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Eagle-Vail ponders clubhouse replacement

Eagle-Vail voters may be asked this year to increase taxes to either relocate or renovate the existing clubhouse at the top of the course atop Whiskey Hill. The existing clubhouse location has fans who say this view makes keeping the current location worthwhile.
Tom Cohen/Special to the Daily |

By the numbers

42 years: Age of existing clubhouse.

$9 million: Estimated cost of a total re-do of the existing clubhouse and other community improvements.

$11.7 million: Estimated cost of a brand-new clubhouse and other community improvements.

20,000: Approximate rounds of golf in 2014 at the Eagle-Vail course.

EAGLE-VAIL — It could be time for a fresh start for the clubhouse at the Eagle-Vail golf course — but there are a lot of questions to answer first.

Officials with the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District — which operates the golf course — along with the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association, have been looking at ways to improve, or possibly replace, the early 1970s-vintage building atop Whiskey Hill. Once officials have settled on a plan and a possible price tag, the district will then seek voter approval — perhaps as soon as November — to borrow the money needed for the project.

Three Options

At a recent joint meeting of the metro district and property owners boards, former property owners association board member Mike Connolly and land planner Rick Pylman showed the boards and members of the public three options for the aging clubhouse.

“If the Front Range doubles (in population) in the next 50 years, this is a gold mine.”Skip MossProperty owners association board member

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The first is a relatively modest re-do of the existing structure. Pylman called that option a band-aid solution, and said virtually no one attending other public meetings favors that lower-cost approach.

The second option would be a virtual tear-down of the existing clubhouse, stripping almost everything from the structure and replacing it with modern insulation, windows, electrical systems, plumbing and more.

That plan would cost about $4.5 million for the work, about $9 million with other work factored in — for parks, reconstructing tennis courts and similar items.

Pylman said that option would add perhaps another 30 years to the current building’s useful life, adding that number of people at meetings like that plan, in large part due to the existing structure’s commanding view across the valley.

The most ambitious plan would be building a brand-new facility on the valley floor. That’s also the plan with the most questions. The plan — which packs as cost estimate of $11.7 million between the building itself and other district improvements — could be partially financed by the sale of the existing clubhouse and parking lots. That sale could put perhaps $1.5 million into the project.

All-Season Facility

While moving the clubhouse to a valley floor location — perhaps near the existing pool and tennis courts — would take away the valley views, Connolly said moving the facility could create a facility that could be used outside of golf season.

The restaurant space in the existing clubhouse was once a 12-month operation. But, Connolly said, that was years ago.

“Running year ’round in that space just doesn’t work any more,” he said.

Supporters said a valley-floor facility could support a small-ish 12-month coffee shop or deli, along with a seasonal restaurant.

Connolly added that moving the clubhouse and keeping the first tee where it is now could help get people from their cars to the course, allowing golfers to check in, get a cart, hit the driving range for a few warm-up swings, then head up to tee off at the top of the course.

But there’s a lot of work remaining before taking a plan to voters. Nailing down the exact location is key, of course. But so is planning the parking and getting a closer estimates of cost.

Addressing the meeting via a Skype connection, property owners association board secretary Jim Cameron said having golf carts crossing Eagle Road is a worry.

Fellow association board member Skip Moss questioned the need for a new building.

“I don’t buy that a 42-year-old building is at the end of its life,” Moss said. Moss added that it might be too soon to sell the lots that currently hold the clubhouse and parking areas.

“If the Front Range doubles (in population) in the next 50 years, this is a gold mine,” Moss said.

Metro district board member Jane Ross said she’s also worried about traffic safety, as well as possible cost increases.

Sooner Than Later

However, Cameron said, if the district is going to ask voters to increase taxes to pay for a bond issue, sooner is probably better than later. Cameron said the Federal Reserve Board is starting to give strong hints about starting to raise interest rates, perhaps as soon as this summer. If interest rates go up, then so does the cost of borrowing.

“There’s a very strong time element at work here,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.


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