Vail: Garage’s next hurdle
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Resorts has presented two roadblocks to the $600 million Lionshead parking structure redevelopment, a massive proposal that, for two years, has been moving through a maze-like town approval process.
The first hurdle: a new parking garage at Vail Resorts’ Ever Vail, the planned ski village for West Lionshead, had to be completed before the Lionshead garage project could start, the town said. Or, some other parking “solution” had to materialize.
That roadblock seemed to disappear Tuesday, when the developer, Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital of Dallas, presented a new construction plan that would leave 1,150 parking spaces open to the public during the five-plus years of construction.
“We believe we’ve come up with a plan, which we discussed with the council last night, that completely eliminated any need for an alternative parking solution,” said Mark Masinter, who represents the developer in its dealings with the town.
But a second hurdle remains squarely in the path of the project: Rob Katz and Vail Resorts must lift a “protective covenant” that the company holds on the town-owned land for the plan to proceed. The publicly traded, Broomfield-based resort company ” which operates Vail Mountain and is also a major developer in Vail ” retains powers on the land, which it donated to the town decades ago.
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“It’s a terrific project for the town, but Vail Resorts has not agreed to let it proceed, and until they do, I really think that it’s premature to get excited about it,” said Margaret Rogers, a Vail councilwoman.
The “project plan” lays out plans for 1,710 public parking spaces, a W hotel, a St. Regis hotel, a transit center, condos, timeshares, a conference center, restaurants and stores on 6.3 acres.
The Town Council could approve a “project plan” for the project at its Aug. 5 meeting. But, under a previously approved “road map,” Vail Resorts is supposed to lift its deed restriction by then.
A Vail Resorts spokeswoman declined comment for this article Wednesday. But Masinter said Katz wants the town to approve the plan before VR considers it ” juggling the roadmap.
“If you’re going to release a deed restriction, you should have a really good understanding of why you want to go there. That’s what they asked me to do, and it’s hard to argue with,” Masinter said.
As a result, the town may act first, giving the plan conditional approval as early as next month, effectively putting the ball in Vail Resorts’ court.
Such a move would “make it unambiguous that if (the project) dies at this point, if it doesn’t proceed to the next step, it is because Vail Resorts did not lift the deed restriction,” said Councilman Mark Gordon.
Also, a Sept. 15 deadline looms for Vail Resorts to lift the deed restriction.
In March, Katz told the Vail Daily that he sees value in the project’s potential improvements to the town but is concerned about having enough parking during and after construction.
“I think what we’ve said consistently is we will move in lockstep with the town of Vail through the approval process,” Katz said then.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.