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New life for ‘less attractive’ Vail area

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Published: Special to the Daily
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VAIL, Colorado ” An outdoor concert venue and the fastest access to the slopes are part of Vail Resorts’ plans for a $1.5 billion new ski village in West Lionshead in Vail, Colorado.

However, town officials raised concerns parking the development’s possible parking and housing impacts.

The 11-acre Ever Vail will be a mix of shops, offices, residences, parking, a transportation center, employee housing, parks and plazas meant to draw people there yearround. Vail Resorts also plans to make the new village meet the highest standards of environmental certification.



The project is meant to revitalize the older, “less attractive” part of Lionshead, and attract a new, younger generation of skiers, said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resort’s Mountain Division.

“Right now, it’s not the most attractive place in the world,” he said of the site. “West Lionshead is not what people expect when they come to Vail. This is not the same product we’ve seen in the past. This is new and different.”



The presentation Tuesday was the beginning of the project’s review process, which could take eight to 10 months. The company said it hopes to finish the project in the next five to eight years.

Ever Vail plans include an outdoor concert venue, a spa and wellness center, and a new gondola to Eagle’s Nest, with a midway stop-off at the bottom of Chair 26.

The gondola would be the fastest access to the slopes from the parking garages, said Michael Brekka, vice president of Vail Resorts Development Co.



The walk from the parking lot to the new gondola would take about 2.5 minutes, while walks to the slopes from Vail Village and Lionshead Village take five minutes to seven minutes, he said.

Retail would include a specialty supermarket and shops that would draw both local and Front Range shoppers, Brekka said.

Planners also tossed out the idea of bringing a celebrity chef to one of the village’s restaurants.

Vail Resorts said that “green” initiatives for the village will include using pine-beetle-killed wood in the village, restoring Red Sandstone Creek and creating recreation space around the water, as well as using solar and geothermal energy.

Environmental stewardship is important to the younger generation, and the green village is one the company hopes to attract 25- to 35-year-old skiers, Garnsey said.

“Vail is the best ski mountain and the best ski town,” he said. “But everyone is trying to figure out how to capture the next generation. We’re going to be left at the curb if we don’t, and Ever Vail will help us do that.”

Town of Vail officials said they were impressed with the ambitious project, but said they were concerned that the project would not meet housing and parking needs.

The project would have a total of 1,586 parking spots, and about 1,100 of that would serve as public parking.

However, town officials pointed out that many of those spots are replacing employee parking that exists now on the site or are required as part of the project. They said they wanted to see new parking that would not only provide for people working and visiting the village but that would help solve Vail’s existing parking woes.

“I have real concerns about parking,” said Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland, after hearing that Ever Vail employee parking was not separate from public skier parking. “We need to have enough to alleviate the parking (situation), which is the biggest problem this town has.”

Officials also said they were concerned about the traffic Ever Vail would put on the Frontage Road, which would be realigned for the development, and the bus system.

“Our bus system is pretty much maxed out now,” Councilwoman Margaret Rogers told Vail Resorts representatives. “I want you to come back with some sort of proposal to how you’re going to get the buses in so the town doesn’t end up in the hole trying to get skiers in and out of the village.”

Vail Resorts also plans to house 65 percent of Ever Vail employees in the village. Vail council members liked the idea, but wanted to know details on where the other employees would be housed.

“We’re exploring different options,” Brekka said “We don’t have that solidified right now. And some might choose not to live in Vail and live downvalley with their families.

Rogers warned planners to think ahead in their housing plans.

“There’s not much housing in the valley,” she said. “I want to see some forward thinking as to realistically where you are going to house these people within the valley.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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