Vail Four Seasons renovation plan eliminates unsold ‘fractional fee’ units
• Eliminating 13 fractional-fee units.
• Nine will be converted to wholly owned condos.
• Four will be converted to 16 new guest rooms.
• Two current guest suites would be converted to four guest rooms.
Source: Extell Development Co.
VAIL — It took a long time for the Four Seasons Resort Vail to get approved and built, and the world has changed.
At its evening meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Vail Town Council gave first-reading approval to a plan to reconfigure some of the hotel’s interior space. The Four Seasons was approved as a special development district in town. That designation has specific requirements for approval that are negotiated between the town and developers. Future changes to those projects also require town approval.
Most of the request reflects changes in the local and national real estate markets. When the project was first approved by the town in 2001, plans included 19 “fractional fee” units — another name for time-share condos. It was a good idea at the time.
By the time the hotel opened in 2010 — during a national economic slump — the fractional fee market had cooled. As a result, only six of the 19 fractional fee units are sold.
“It’s an industry that’s not working any more,” local planner Tom Braun told the council.
Braun is the local representative for Extell Development Co., which in November 2016 paid $121 million for the Vail hotel.
While the new owners have changes in mind, Braun said there’s only so much that can be done. The hotel’s plumbing and electrical systems are fixed in place, and little can be done in terms of moving them around, Braun said. There’s also the matter of having a fixed amount of parking on site.
“I can’t tell you how many (possible options) we’ve been through,” Braun said. “We’ve put an incredible amount of thought into what’s before you today.”
In all, the renovation plan would add 12 new condominium units. Those condos would also include 18 lock-off units that could be rented. The plan would also convert four suites into 16 new guest rooms.
It turns out that the existing suites are simply too large to get much use, Braun said.
The idea is to get more occupancy out of the available space.
Council members generally welcomed the plan.
“We have a lot of empty real estate sitting there,” said Vail Mayor Dave Chapin, adding he supported the renovation plan.
Council member Greg Moffet moved to approve the plan, but, he said, he wants Extell to provide more benefit to the town. Part of the town’s special development district process is for the town to receive some kind of public benefits from projects that go beyond existing zoning on a specific parcel.
“I can’t in good conscience give you 12 (condos) the town doesn’t get anything from,” Moffet said.
Moffet’s motion included requiring Extell to acquire 2,000 square feet of deed-restricted employee housing as a condition of approval. That’s the equivalent of about three two-bedroom apartments.
The motion passed 6-1, with council member Kevin Foley opposed. There may be further adjustments to the plan, since the ordinance to approve the changes requires a second council approval.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.
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