Vail council won’t bend rules for building in Lionshead |

Vail council won’t bend rules for building in Lionshead

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” The owner of a Lionshead building in Vail, Colorado won’t get a break from the town that would make it easier for him to rent out the building as office space.

Michael Hecht, owner of the Treetops building at the entrance of Lionshead, asked the town for a zoning change to allow offices to permanently stay in his building. Currently, the first floor of the village is reserved for stores.

Council members rejected the idea in a five-to-two vote, saying they didn’t want to change the zoning of an entire area for one building.

Vail Resorts offices currently occupy the Treetops building, under special permission from the town. That permission must be renewed every year.

Hecht argued that the building, located across the street from the Lionshead parking structure and Subway, is ill-suited for retail stores, and restrictions from the Vail Homeowners Association prohibit a restaurant from occupying the space.

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Many businesses, including Vail Bike Tech, Battle Mountain Trading Post and Vail Athlete, have been in the space but failed, Hecht said.

“I bought the building in 2004, when it was vacant and blighted,” he said. “I advertised for retail for three months and had zero takers, except from Starbucks, who eventually moved to the Arrabelle. Is that the first thing you want people to see walking out of the garage ” a vacant, blighted building?”

The building shouldn’t be grouped with other buildings in Lionshead, said Treetops property manager Jeff Brown.

The front of the building is usually obscured by snow storage, the heated sidewalks end at the bus stop before the building, and there is no lighting in front of it, he said.

While the council agreed that most of Lionshead’s street level space should be stores and restaurants, some thought an exception should be made for the Treetops building.

“I agree with that this building doesn’t fit,” said Councilwoman Margaret Rogers, who voted to make an exception for the building along with Councilman Mark Gordon. “Can we come up with a way to make this building not a part of the retail corridor?”

However, other council members said they didn’t see the troubles of one building as the town’s problem.

“Why should the town be responsible for making this building viable?” asked Councilwoman Kim Newberry. “It seems like a much easier solution would be for the Vail Homeowner’s Association to allow a restaurant in there.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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