Vail, garage developer exchange vows |

Vail, garage developer exchange vows

Special to the DailyThe town of Vail and Dallas-based Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital are negotiating over the construction of a condo-hotel-parking-conference center-retail complex on the site of the Lionshead parking structure.

VAIL ” The residents listened as lawyers explained how Lionshead’s grey, aging parking garage would be transformed into so much more.

There would be hotels, shops, a conference center, condos, timeshares, employee housing and even more parking. A 75-page document painstakingly detailed that process, but residents still had concerns.

“We’re a little tired of too much construction right now,” said Tom Ehrenberg, who has lived part-time in Lionshead for 35 years.

Ehrenberg said he has already listened to construction next door to his Lionshead Center condo for years as the massive Arrabelle at Vail Square was being built.

“Hold off and wait a little bit and relax a little bit,” he said.

Tom Steinberg, Vail’s first doctor, who served for years as a town councilman, wondered if the new complex would providing enough new parking. The new complex would have 1,450 spaces, up from 1,150 now.

“In my mind, you’re not increasing it enough,” he said.

The Vail Town Council will consider approval of the “developer improvement agreement” on Tuesday. The agreement lays out the obligations the developer would have as part of the $620 million project, which would occur on what is now town-owned land.

In the agreement, the developer ” Dallas-based Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital ” promises:

– 1,450 public parking spaces .

– A transportation center with slots for five buses.

– A $14 million conference center with about 34,000 square feet of space.

– A new roundabout on the South Frontage Road.

– A 2,000-square-foot town information center.

Other facets of the project include:

– Two hotels (with a total of 240 rooms). The developer plans a four-star W Hotel and a five-star St. Regis Hotel.

– 130 condos.

– 25 timeshares.

– 60,000 square feet of stores and restaurants.

The agreement includes a timeline that extends to 2014, when the project is supposed to be “substantially complete.”

It calls for phased demolition of the current parking structure, which would allow for some public parking while the project under construction.

The agreement includes guarantees that the project would be completed if it stalls during construction. A letter of credit would provide money to the town to finish the structure.

The town is also reserving the right to take back the project and find a new developer if the Dallas group doesn’t come through on its promises.

“I think it turned out great,” Mark Masinter, a representative for the developer, said of the agreement. “It’s very fair and what it ought to be.”

The Dallas group has also offered to buy the town’s Timber Ridge complex and rebuild it with 1,400 rental beds and some 60 affordable condos. They plan to tear down Timber Ridge at the end of ski season in 2009.

Vail Resorts has offered to do a similar renovation of Timber Ridge.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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