Vail approves $1 million for commercial rent relief

Program is intended to help small businesses get through until the coming ski season

Sales tax collections are lower than 2019 in Vail and the rest of Eagle County, but the declines haven't been as steep as once feared.
How it works
  • The program is available to businesses that have been open at least for the 2019-2020 ski season.
  • The business must have a storefront in the town of Vail.
  • Businesses must pay rent to a landlord.
  • Landlords must participate in the program.
  • For more information, go to

The Vail Town Council on Tuesday approved another measure intended to help prop up the local economy: rent relief for small businesses.

The council unanimously approved a resolution allocating $1 million for commercial rent relief. The program is effective from now until the end of November to help get businesses through until the start of the ski season.

Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar told councilmembers that the Vail plan uses a model that is similar to relief packages in Aspen and Breckenridge.

Vlaar told councilmembers that the plan is aimed specifically at small businesses. The program limits the number of employees a participating business can have. It also requires a business to show financial statements, and must show a year-over-year decline from 2019.

Landlords have to help

Landlords must participate in the program. The idea is that landlords, business owners and the town will all chip in one-third of the rent on a commercial space.

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Businesses must also be current on all payments to the town, and a business can’t have any other outlets outside of Colorado unless the owner’s primary residence is in Eagle County.

Mayor Dave Chapin owns Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village. He questioned the program’s requirement that a business be open six days a week — five days in October and November.

Chapin noted it’s unlikely the town will see much group business this fall. That business is usually what keeps shops and restaurants open during the town’s slowest months.

Councilmember Jenn Bruno countered that the intent of the program is to keep businesses open.

“If we shut down everything, people aren’t working,” Bruno said.

Councilmember Jen Mason said the program will require some creativity on the part of businesses, particularly restaurants. Some restaurants might have to offer limited menus in order to stay open, she said.

Vlaar said the important thing is to get started.

“There’s a lot of things we don’t know at this point,” Vlaar said, reiterating that the goal is to keep businesses open and creating “vitality” in town.

While Chapin had some questions about the program, he said he’s a supporter.

Councilmember Brian Stockmar added that the program is “an opportunity for the town to work with its businesses … it clearly is the sharing of a cost.”

‘Excited’ for the program

Hilary Magner and her husband Kevin own the Squash Blossom in Vail Village. Reached by phone Wednesday, Hilary Magner said she’s excited to see the program created. But, she added, it’s going to be essential to get landlords to participate.

The Magners, parents of two young children, are alternating 12-hour days at the shop, which they’ve owned for only about a year.

“We just take our business one day at a time,” she said, adding that the rent relief program will help their business some until ski season.

“We’re so very grateful for this,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”

The commercial rent relief may be just the start of more help for local businesses.

Bruno said the town should look into providing shelters for outdoor seating areas at bars and restaurants. Town Manager Scott Robson said the Vail Economic Advisory Committee is also looking into programs including gift cards for October and November.

Stockmar said the ideas he heard Tuesday seems “sensible,” but added he wants a better idea of what those assistance efforts will cost.

Robson replied that he and other town officials can probably quickly come up with cost estimates for other ideas for helping the town’s small businesses.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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