Ground broken on village parking structure

Scott N. Miller
Jack Affleck/Vail Resorts Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler, Vail Resorts chief executive Adam Aron and Vail Mayor Rod Slifer break ground Thursday on a new parking structure in Vail Village.

A parking garage groundbreaking doesn’t usually bring out a company’s chief executive. But Vail Resorts’ boss Adam Aron was on hand for a ceremony Thursday to officially kick off construction at “Founders Park and Parking Garage,” a project that will turn what was once a surface lot on the north side of Hanson Ranch Road across from the Christiania Lodge into a underground parking garage with a public park on top.”This is momentous day,” Aron said. “Vail’s new dawn has commenced.”Aron touted the Founders Park project as the first of several projects the resort company will begin in the next couple of years, including renovations at Lionshead and the “Front Door” project between the Village and the base of Vail Mountain.While Aron and other resort company officials waxed eloquent about what Founders Park means to the company’s big picture for the next few years, there are more practical considerations at work.

The main one is, of course, more parking in Vail Village. When the garage is finished, it will have 109 underground spaces, which were offered for sale, as well as 27 surface parking spaces for the Christiania.The underground spaces have sold quickly – at $100,000 a piece. About 100 of the spaces are under contract, and there are 35 people interested in the last nine spaces. Given the interest, the underground garage may be expanded by a few spaces, said Jack Hunn, construction manager for Vail Resorts Development Company.Hunn said about 75 buyers live within easy walking distance of the garage. The rest were sold to other Vail Village residents.One of the buyers is Vail Mayor Rod Slifer, who lives above Sweet Basil restaurant. “This answers a need for residents here,” Slifer said. “It adds value to my place, and if we ever move, which we don’t plan to, then I’ll have a parking place here.”A number of the spaces were purchased by homeowners on Gore Creek Drive, who now have just single parking spaces outside their units.In fact, the Vail Village Homeowners Association was originally founded in the early 1990s in order to deal with parking problems, association president Alan Kosloff said. “It’s taken a very long time for this to happen,” Kosloff said. “This is important for the practical reasons of parking for residents of the village, taking pressure off the parking structure and beautifying the neighborhood with a park.”While the new garage will take care of the needs of village homeowners, its construction means the loss of some loading and delivery space for village businesses.But when the $100 million “Front Door” refurbishment of the base of Vail Mountain is finished, there will be underground loading facilities. Until then, though, loading will be shifted to a site near the Lodge at Vail. If the Front Door isn’t started by the summer of 2006, the company has pledged to make that surface loading area permanent, and will remove Chair 1 to do it, Aron said. But, he added, the Front Door will happen, as will the rest of the resort company’s plans for Vail.

“This is real, this is here, and it all starts right here,” Aron said.More parkingA new parking garage is just the start of Vail Resorts’ “Vail’s New Dawn” project. Here’s what’s in the pipeline:• Groundbreaking on a townhome project behind the Vail Marriott will take place before Labor Day.• Sales at the Rock Resort Condo Hotel project will start about Labor Day. Groundbreaking for the project at Lionshead is scheduled for April of 2005.• Vail’s “Front Door” project is set for a 2006 start.

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