Private skiing proposed south of Minturn | VailDaily.com

Private skiing proposed south of Minturn

Cliff Thompson

MINTURN ” A private ski resort is among the ideas a Florida-based developer of luxury residential homes has for 6,000 acres of land between Vail Mountain, Red Cliff and Minturn purchased for $32.75 million Wednesday.

The Ginn Company also envisions a golf course and luxury homes on land once owned by the New Jersey Zinc Mine. People familiar with skiing and the lay of the land above Gilman on Battle Mountain said the area would lend itself to developing ski runs.

The private ski resort will be “high on our list,” Ginn Company owner Edward Robert “Bobby” Ginn said Wednesday, adding that specific development plans for the land won’t be announced until sometime next spring.

“It’s too nice a piece of property to hurry,” he said.

There are no plans at this time to link the proposed development and Vail Mountain, nor have there have been any discussions with Vail Resorts, Ginn said.

The land between Minturn and Gilman has long been eyed as a new base village for the south side of Vail Mountain as well as a golf community, private ski area and residential subdivision.

But any lifts in the area wouldn’t take skiers to Blue Sky Basin because it would cross a one-mile band of prime habitat for the endangered Canada lynx, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

Preliminary development discussions between the purchaser and Minturn officials last month centered on a development containing up to 500 homes on the lower portion of the 6,000 acres near Bolts Lake, south of town.

Neat little town

The upper reaches of the land has sweeping views of Mount of the Holy Cross, Notch Mountain and Mt. Jackson. But it also poses a number of environmental problems, such as mine waste and other mining refuse.

And many of the abandoned home in Gilman contain asbestos, a carcinogen, according to officials familiar with the property.

The Ginn Company, based in Celebration, Fla., closed on the purchase Monday that included 18 separate closing documents and nearly 500 mining claims for the shafts that crater the land.

Robert Ginn isn’t a stranger to Vail or Eagle County. In the early 1980s he purchased the Kiandra Lodge ” now the Sonnenalp.

Financial difficulties with his developments in Hilton Head, S.C., in the mid 1980s forced him to sell the property to current owner Karl Faessler.

The acquisition of land in Colorado is a departure from the warm-weather venues his company has been developing, said Ginn, whose name is pronounced with a hard “g,” like “gun.”

“We’ve been looking for something in Colorado for 10 years,” he said, adding the land is attractive because it’s between Vail, Avon and Beaver Creek, and not far from I-70.

“It’s also next to Minturn, one of the neatest little towns in Colorado,” he said.

Winds of change

In Minturn many of the 1,100 residents cling to their small town. In last November’s election voters in Minturn rejected by a 2-to-1 margin the construction of an RV park in town.

Many voters interviewed on Election Day said they feared the park would’ve changed too drastically the small town which has survived 100 years of mining boom and bust, railroads coming and going, and, for now, a subsistence on tourism.

At the urging of Minturn resident and county commissioner, Mike Gallagher, town officials met with the Ginn representatives last month to begin discussing how the town and developer would work together to solve the anticipated traffic, water and other infrastructure needs.

“The town’s going to need some things from the developer,” said Fred Haslee, a Minturn town councilman who discussed the pros and cons of the proposal this week. “That’s the positive thing. The con thing, in my opinion, is that it will add to people’s property values. How that translates to property taxes to people on fixed incomes may not be a positive thing.”

The project will likely require Minturn’s town government to grow, Gallagher said.

“Minturn has to do some ramping up to handle it, of course at the developer’s expense,” he said.

Red Cliff’s 350 residents may see changes to their town, too, because portions of the land abut its boundary.

One of the things the development will need is water, said water attorneys familiar with the property. It may need to work with Minturn for that commodity, Town Manager Ann Capela has said.

Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com

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