Marshmallows vs. ‘Great Hall’
VAIL – Harry Frampton told the crowd about s’mores.”We sold 12,000 packages of s’mores at the Hyatt last year,” Frampton said.The Beaver Creek hotel has an open fire pit on its slopeside deck. That is one of the creative twists that have livened up developments – hotels, condos and restaurants in cities and resorts – by East West Partners over the last few decades, he said.Frampton said he’d bring that same kind of creativity – plus lots of conventioneers, nice stores and more public parking – to his firm’s plans to rebuild the Lionshead parking garage. After Frampton was done, he and his entourage left the room. Mark Masinter, a Texan wearing jeans, a blazer and an untucked shirt, entered with his covey of planners. Masinter – part of the Open Hospitality Partners-Hillwood Capital Group – took the microphone, stood in front of a bunch of placards, and told the crowd about “our $600 million dream.””This project has been a lifelong passion for me,” Masinter said.One placard had a prototype ad for one of the hotels Masinter wants to build: “The St. Regis at Vail: From $650 a night including a choice of special amenity.”He talked about how Vail needs a “great hall of arrival,” as there is in London or Paris. He detailed his Arc D’Triumph – with timeshares – for Vail.
Tuesday was the last chance for the two developers vying to rebuild the Lionshead garage to present their plans to the Town Council. The aging structure, built in 1981, will need lots of repairs within the next decade if it isn’t renovated, the town says.The developers are offering to rebuild the complex with more public parking – and also with hotels, condos, timeshares, conference centers, stores, restaurants, information centers, youth centers and employee housing.Each project is worth more than $500 million, which would make it the biggest single project Vail has ever seen. The complex would employ upwards of 500 people.The developers want to start the project in 2009, but 2010 would be OK, too, they said.Vail would get lots of benefits from its redevelopment, including more public parking, a long-sought-after conference center, coveted hotel rooms, more stores, road improvements, a bus station, sales tax and tax-increment financing, and both developers have said they would rebuild the Timber Ridge affordable housing project, too.But Vail would give up one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in town.The council could choose one developer to rebuild the garage, or choose not to proceed with the project. A decision is expected March 20.
During the meeting, no resident or council member indicated they liked one proposal better than the other. Gwen Scalpello, a Vail resident, questioned whether the community had had a good conversation about what it really wants do with the property.
“It’s been about the two proposals, not what we want to do on the site,” she said.Kaye Ferry, executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, echoed Scalpello.
“This has been nothing but a runaway train since day one,” she said. “There are many people in the community who do not want this thing to come forward.”Jay Peterson, a lawyer for the Open-Hillwood group and a longtime local resident, detailed projects in Vail’s past that have been slowed down and then never happened, from a rec center at Ford Park to previous incarnations of a conference center.People have had the opportunity to give input against the project, he said.”Everybody has had an opportunity to say, ‘Kill it,'” he said. “Where are they?”Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.