Local firm drops bid to rebuild garage
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” East West Partners withdrew Monday from the contest to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure, leaving a Texas group as the only developer that wants to undertake the $600 million project.
“We could not in good conscience tell the town we could give them everything they wanted,” said Harry Frampton, senior partner of East West Partners.
The Dallas-based Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital group remains in the running to rebuild the parking structure.
The two developers had been competing to rebuild the aging 1,100-space public parking garage in Lionshead. The town has said the parking structure, built in 1981, will need significant repairs in coming years if it isn’t rebuilt.
Both developers had detailed plans for the town-owned, 6.3-acre site. The plans included more public parking, condos, timeshares, hotels, conference centers, stores, restaurants and spas. Each project would be worth $600 million, making it the most expensive development Vail has ever seen.
Frampton said the project was not financially viable because his company was being asked to give the town too many public benefits.
The town said last week it wanted some kind of financial assurances upfront that would ensure the project wouldn’t stall and leave the town without parking. Frampton said that helped tip the scales against proceeding.
Employee housing requirements, still being considered by the town, were a big question mark, Frampton said.
So was the planned West Lionshead parking garage, Frampton said. Vail Resorts, which has an interest in the Lionshead parking structure, has said it can’t be demolished until the West Lionshead garage is open, he said.
“It could be as late as 2011 before you could start,” he said. “It’s just a long, long, long, long time away with lots of uncertainty.”
Frampton also cited unclear town priorities.
“There were differences in opinions in the community as far as what is important,” he said.
The process will continue as scheduled, said Town Manager Stan Zemler. The Town Council is scheduled to make a decision on whether to proceed with Open/Hillwood on March 20.
Councilman Greg Moffet said the town hasn’t lost any leverage with East West’s withdrawal.
“You can read these tea leaves any way you want,” said Councilman Greg Moffet. “One way to read them is that we have been negotiating very hard.”
Mark Masinter of the Open/Hillwood group said there’s no chance his group will withdraw.
“I don’t know why (Frampton) dropped out but I can’t tell you how happy we are that we’re in the position we are,” he said. “Everything that we said we will provide, we will provide.”
Beaver Creek-based East West Partners is building the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon, which includes a new gondola to the base of Beaver Creek Mountain.
Frampton was president of Vail Associates in the 1980s. He is also an owner of Slifer Smith and Frampton, a local real estate company.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.