Vail approves Lionshead parking garage plan |

Vail approves Lionshead parking garage plan

Special to the DailyThe $900 million Lionshead parking structure complex would have a W hotel (at left) and a St. Regis hotel (at right). Stores are at the southern edge, at bottom. The Vail Town Council approved a "project plan" for the proposal Tuesday.

VAIL, Colorado ” The developer wants to build it. The town has approved the plan. Now the fate of the $900 million Lionshead parking structure proposal rests in Vail Resorts’ hands.

“If this project doesn’t move on to the next step, it’s because Vail Resorts killed it,” said Councilman Mark Gordon.

The Vail Town Council approved Tuesday a massive plan to redevelop the town-owned Lionshead parking structure into condos, timeshares, a conference center, a transit center, restaurants, stores, and even more public parking.

“We have an opportunity for a third party to build parking at no cost to the town,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland. “It seems to be a no-brainer.”

The plan is proposed by Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital, a Dallas development group that includes Ross Perot Jr., the son of the former presidential candidate.

The council gave Vail Resorts, the Broomfield-based company that owns Vail Mountain Ski Resort, until March 17 to lift a “deed restriction” that stands in the way of the project. That deadline could be extended by another nine months.

The vote was 6-0, with Councilman Farrow Hitt absent.

Vail Resorts officials say they still have two major concerns. One is the financial soundness of the Lionshead redevelopment. The other is making sure there’s enough parking while the project is under construction.

John Garnsey, Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division senior vice president, said Tuesday that the company will do its “due diligence” to make sure the project is financially sound.

As for parking, Garnsey said the company can’t risk losing parking at Lionshead ” even though the Texas developer has a plan to leave 1,150 parking spaces, the current number there, online during the entire construction period.

“We’re not willing to take the risk that (the parking plan) will work,” Garnsey said.

CEO Rob Katz has said the Ever Vail parking garage needs to be completed before the Lionshead parking structure project can start. Garnsey said Vail Resorts wants to work with the town to create a construction schedule that could allow for some concurrent construction of the two garages.

The earliest the Ever Vail garage could be completed in November of 2011, but it still needs more town approvals to proceed.

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