OFront Door1 proposal popular with Vail homeowners
Nearby property owners are giving a preliminary thumbs up to Vail Resorts1 new 3Front Door, a $75 million redevelopment project that would cover up unsightly parking in the upper Vail Village and create an inviting landscape at the Vista Bahn Ski Yard.Vail Town Council members and a packed room of local residents got their first look Tuesday at a set of plans the ski company has been working on for at least two years and hopes to break ground on by spring 2004. Representatives for at least two adjacent property owners groups praised the project.3We have been working with Vail Resorts and it has been a very interesting very open process, said Stan Cope, general manager of the Lodge Tower. 3We basically support this project.Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners1 Association, which represents second-home owners, said while some details still need to be worked out, adjacent homeowners on Mill Creek and in the upper village are generally on board.After several years of fine-tuning, he said, 3it has found it1s place in time. I just hope we can get it built.Charles Penwill, vice president of Vail Resorts Development Company, informed those in attendance Tuesday the Front Door project represents the company1s desire to expand its revitalization projects into Vail following a five-year span of improvements worth $125 million. In order to stay competitive as a world-class resort, Penwill said, Vail 3has to be the best thing it can be<not just on Vail Mountain, but also at and around the town1s three mountain portals at Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak.A renovation project at Golden Peak, the mountain1s eastern portal, was undertaken six years ago, Penwill said, but the Vista Bahn Ski Yard and the Lionshead portal, however, have been left unchanged for two decades, save for a few minor repairs.The Front Door presentation Tuesday came just six weeks after the ski company announced plans to revamp a combined 16 acres in Lionshead, the western portal. The redevelopment proposal, estimated to cost up to $400 million, includes a new luxury hotel, a condominium complex atop a new shopping plaza and skier service complex along with townhomes and footprint for a convention center on five parcels in Lionshead.Applauded by many in the community as the much-needed facelift for the aging Lionshead commercial district, the project is tentatively scheduled to begin spring 2004 and take about 30 months.Like the Lionshead redevelopment project, the Front Door project will aid Vail in its quest to reclaim it1s title as North America1s No. 1 ski resort, said Ethan Moore of Moore Enterprises, Vail Resorts1 chief planner on both projects.3Our competition is doing things, spending money hand over fist, Moore told the crowd at the beginning of the one-hour slide show.To stay competitive with resorts like Snowmass, Copper Mountain and Whistler, Moore said, Vail needs to adjust to tourist-trends.3It1s not just about the mountain, Moore said, adding that improvements at the ski yard, including lockers and ski storage will help 3keep our guests in the village after a day of skiing.Additionally, proposed grading and landscaping of the ski yard could make room for a summer venue, of sorts, for art fairs, festivals and small concerts, Moore said. In a quest to free up the base of Vista Bahn for summer events, the ski company has entered into negotiations with the U.S. Forest Service. According to the two-week-old proposal, Vail Resorts seeks to trade 295 acres of 3partly developable land in Beaver Creek and in South Game Creek Bowl for a two-acre parcel at the Vista Bahn, where the primary component would amenities.A ski service facility of 20,000 to 30,000 square feet would be burrowed into the hillside, as well as the ski school and ticket offices, shops, bathrooms and lockers. The top of the facility would be landscaped and deliver skiers to the chairlift, possibly via Beaver Creek-esque escalators and heated pavements.To the east, at the Christiania parking lot, a community park<along with 23 surface parking spaces and about 80 spaces underground spaces on two underground levels<3would clean up the traffic patterns of a now packed and unsightly parking lot in the midst of a popular pedestrian pathway, Moore said.The underground parking would be sold to adjacent property owners, according to the proposal.To connect the new community park with the ski yard and create an overall pleasing street scene, the ski company is pledging $1 million towards improvements in the upper village, ranging from new pavement to stairways to planters.To the west of the ski yard, meanwhile, the ski company plans to bury Mountain Road from the Lodge Tower to the Lodge at Vail, replacing about 110 surface parking spaces with underground spaces, along with a loading and delivery facility near the Lodge.Atop the underground parking garage, the plan would build a world-class spa as an upgrade to the Lodge; adjacent to it in front of the Lodge Tower the company hopes to build 12 high-end homes for a 3residence club, complete with a club house.The time-share unit component, Moore said, will provide the most of the funding to do the other projects, and its approval<despite zoning problems<is necessary for the ski company to go ahead and do the other projects.The ski company plans to break ground on the Front Door project by spring 2004 and finish it up by 2006. That is approximately the same time period, the ski company has proposed for the Lionshead redevelopment project which could take up to Christmas 2007 to be completed.