Town of Vail owes Vail Resorts $17.5 million for Booth Heights parcel, commission rules

Verdict comes five days after conclusion of the valuation hearing

On Monday, Sept. 18, Eagle County District Court received the commission's verdict on the value of the Vail Resorts-owned Booth Heights parcel in East Vail.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The three-person commission in charge of determining the value of the Vail Resorts-owned parcel in East Vail reached a verdict just after 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18.

The commission ruled that the town of Vail will have to pay Vail Resorts $17,519,985 to acquire the 23-acre parcel.

This verdict comes five days after the conclusion of the valuation hearing, in which the town and Vail Resorts argued over the parcel’s “reasonable market value.” In the hearing, the town argued the parcel was worth between $11.1 million and $12.9 million, while Vail Resorts argued it was worth $23.08 million.

The two entities presented their cases to a three-person commission rather than the district court judge, with the commission taking five days to deliberate and reach its decision. This commission was comprised of individuals with real estate expertise, defined by the court as “disinterested and impartial freeholders.” While both entities were able to nominate up to four commissioners each, the final commission was selected and appointed by the court. 

The commission’s verdict holds that the reasonable market value of the property is $17,519,985 — with $16,519,985 of that attributed to the 5-acre portion of the parcel that is zoned for housing and $1 million attributed to the 17.9-acre portion zoned for Natural Area Preservation.

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Now it will be up to the Vail Town Council to determine the town’s willingness to pay the amount. Kris Widlak, the town’s director of communications, previously told the Vail Daily that the Town Council is scheduled to make this decision at its Tuesday, Oct. 3, meeting.

The town has already provided a deposit of $12 million in accordance with Eagle County District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman’s June 30, 2023 order, which granted the town immediate possession.

Last week, the town also presented to the Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee, seeking its assistance in purchasing the 23-acre parcel. While the county commissioners will make the ultimate decision, the committee recommended a contribution of $5 million.

The valuation hearing was the final step in the condemnation proceedings between the town and Vail Resorts, which go back to May 2022 when the Town Council voted to condemn the site in order to preserve the parcel as open space for the area’s herd of bighorn sheep. The matter made its way to the Eagle County District Court in October 2022 when the town filed a motion for immediate possession and petition in condemnation after Vail Resorts rejected its $12 million offer to purchase the site.

The immediate possession trial took place in May 2023 with the judge granting the town this possession in June 2023.

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