Vail: Bus station could cost $20M
VAIL, Colorado ” The price for a new bus station in Lionshead has climbed to as high as $19 million, and Vail is looking to the county, state and federal governments for help.
“The high end seems a little high, but transit centers are expensive,” said Vail Councilman Farrow Hitt.
The bus hub would be part of the worker housing complex that Vail Resorts plans to build on the North Day Lot in Lionshead. The company must provide 120 beds because of its obligations for the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the large condo-hotel-retail complex in Lionshead.
The town said it would pay for a transit center as part of the affordable housing project.
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz came to Vail last Tuesday to present five options for the transit center to the town. They range from a full bus station to skier dropoff only. Vail Resorts is also obligated to build the skier dropoff area as part of its Arrabelle approval.
The bus hub could cost $15 million to $19 million, Town Manager Stan Zemler said.
As of last November, the town budgeted $7 million for the Lionshead transit station.
Meanwhile, Mark Masinter, who wants to redevelop the Lionshead parking structure, plans to put a transit center in his $600 million project. But council members say they aren’t sure if that project will ever happen.
“Ideally, I’d like to see it in the Lionshead parking structure,” Hitt said. “But I’m just not sure how off into the future the Lionshead parking structure is. … This is kind of like a bird in the hand.”
Kevin Foley, a Vail councilman, said he thinks the best place for the transit center isn’t the North Day Lot.
“I’m not a real big fan of a transit center over there,” he said. “I think it should be on the (existing) Lionshead parking structure, personally.”
Zemler said that would be too expensive.
“In my opinion, it’s not an option,” he said.
The town has asked for $3 million from Eagle County for the station, which would shelter county ECO buses. It also seeks money in state and federal transportation funding.
The lion’s share of the money, some $12 million, would come from Lionshead tax-increment financing bonds.
Dick Cleveland, mayor of Vail, said he’s reluctant to take all of that TIF money and spend it for the transit center.
Cleveland said funding the bus station at the North Day Lot could be “tough,” but he’s not willing to give up on the prospect yet. The town will continue to look at other places in Lionshead for a transit center ” including using Concert Hall Plaza and East Lionshead Circle ” Cleveland said.
And the deliberation over the transit center may up end delaying the completion of the housing for the Arrabelle. Under an agreement between the town and Vail Resorts, the housing complex must break ground by May 2009. That timeline may have to be re-evaluated if the town chooses to build the bus station on the North Day Lot, Zemler said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.