Garage redo next revitalization step?
VAIL ” After listening to both proposals for the Lionshead parking garage site, Pam Stenmark said either one would go a long way to revitalize the area.
But Stenmark, an owner of the Evergreen Lodge in Vail, said she prefers East West Partners’ proposal, which would include a larger hall for big conferences than the proposal from Dallas-based Open Hospitality Group/Hillwood Capital.
“I think the economic driver of having a conference center in Vail is essential,” she said.
Stenmark, who supported the proposal for a publicly funded conference center that was shot down by voters last year, said large conference space will ensure that Vail’s businesses stay busy during the offseasons.
The two developers are competing for the right to redevelop the aging parking structure with each proposing more public parking, condos, timeshares, hotel rooms, stores and a bus station.
Each project is worth at least $500 million. Both proposals replace the 1,150 public parking spaces that are in the garage now and add more public parking.
Tom Neyens heard the two developers give their presentations this week, too. He preferred the Texas developer’s proposal.
“I think that it looks like Open/Hillwood has put a lot of thought and effort into the proposal, and it looks like Frampton’s proposal was, ‘Hey, I’m Harry Frampton, and you guys know me,” Neyens said.
Frampton, president of Avon-based East West Partners, is a longtime Vail resident, an owner of the large real estate firm Slifer Smith and Frampton and a former president of Vail Associates. Frampton has said that East West’s experience building in resorts, including Eagle County, makes the company qualified for the job.
The two developers presented their proposals to the community at meetings this week.
Neyens, who owns the Ski Valet in Lionshead, said he liked Open/Hillwood’s proposal because it has an additional level of underground parking, a bus stop that is underground and a performing arts center that would bring concerts to town.
But Neyens said the option has to stay open to choose neither of the proposals. It might be a good idea to slow down the process until a sound parking plan is in place, Neyens said.
Both developers plan to tear down the garage in phases to keep some public parking there at all times.
Vail Resorts is planning a parking garage in west Lionshead that could add 400 public parking spaces by the time construction starts on the Lionshead garage.
Geoff Wright, general manager of Destination Resorts Vail, which manages condos around Lionshead, also saw both proposals Wednesday. He said both are good, but he hasn’t decided which one is better.
“Both of them are tremendously important for Vail,” he said. “Both have advantages and disadvantages.”
Open/Hillwood is proposing five-star St. Regis and a W hotels on the site, with average daily rates of $423 and $383, respectively. East West Partners is proposing a new kind of four-star Hyatt hotel called “Hyatt On.” The average daily rate would be $275.
Both developers are aiming to start the project in 2008, with a completion date of 2010.
The Town Council may decide whether to proceed with one of the developers ” or not to proceed with either one ” in December.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.