"Making Lionshead a better place overall’ | VailDaily.com

"Making Lionshead a better place overall’

Stephen Lloyd Wood

Once hailed as “a major contribution to the economy of the area,” the mall had become a veritable ghost town after major retailers began vacating the premises in 1997.

Vail’s leaders in recent years have been eyeing a method – tax increment financing, or TIF – used by the Boulder authority to fund redeveloping the mall into a thriving commercial center once again.

“It’s a tool,” Zemler says of TIF, which has been used by many other towns and cities across the nation, too, to leverage future tax gains. “My guess is we’ll be looking at making Lionshead a better place overall.”

With the redevelopment of Lionshead in Vail’s future, however, Zemler is well aware of the empty storefronts in Vail today. While he says he “can’t imagine” why the owners of some retail spaces apparently prefer to hike rental rates to levels beyond what merchants can afford – thus driving them out altogether – perhaps there’s no incentives to encourage them to cooperate, he says.

“Sometimes in mixed-use, retail is not the engine that drives things. I used to deal with owners at the Crossroads Mall, in which the store they owned was just 2 percent of their portfolio,” says Zemler, adding that “a combination of things,” such as real estate investment trusts and potential tax write-offs, may be contributing factors.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“There’s no magic wand,” Zemler says, “or a lot of people would be waving it.”

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