Vail gets green light for golf clubhouse project
Vail Golf Course clubhouse by the numbers
$7 million: Original cost before the lawsuits by neighbors stalled the project for years beginning in 2012
$8.2 million: Total cost now, to be paid by a combination of Conference Center Reallocation Dollars, Real Estate Transfer Tax, and more than $1 million from the Vail Recreation District.
87 percent: Number of Vail voters in 2011 who voted in favor of a plan to spend lodging tax money first collected to build a conference center in town.
120: Current guest capacity at the clubhouse.
160: Guest capacity at the rebuilt clubhouse.
1,700: Size increase, in square feet, from the existing building.
Building upgrades include: dedicated golf, Nordic and community space entrances designed to showcase Gore Range views; expanded pro shop retail space; a public grill; and a new 160-person community and banquet space separate from the grill.
Designed by Zehren and Associates.
Built by Evans Chaffee
Construction is scheduled to take 10 to 12 months to complete.
VAIL — In a daring “damn the torpedoes” move, Vail launched its golf course clubhouse renovation last month while embroiled in a legal battle over the project.
On Thursday, the torpedoes missed.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of the town and the Vail Recreation District, sinking a series of legal actions by neighboring property owners to stop the project.
In making their ruling, the three-judge panel upheld a District Court ruling by Eagle County District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman from March 13, 2014. Some of the disgruntled neighbors appealed Dunkelman’s ruling.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2012 by eight neighboring property owners, flying in the face of an overwhelming majority of Vail residents.
In 2011, 87 percent of Vail voted for the plan to spend lodging tax money first collected to build a conference center in town.
In its Thursday ruling, the Colorado Court of Appeals ordered the plaintiffs to pay Vail’s court costs for the appeal process. Vail town attorney Matt Mire said that would be a “nominal amount.” They’re still determining exactly what that amount will be, said Suzanne Silverthorn, director of communications with the town of Vail.
The town will not be paid attorney’s fees, the Court of Appeals ruled.
Vail Mayor Andy Daly said the ruling validates the town’s decision-making process and reinforces the Town Council’s position that the clubhouse remodel is in the best interest of the community.
“We were pleased with the ruling and we’re happy to have this behind us. This is vindication that we’re doing what’s right for the community,” Daly said. “If you go by the clubhouse you’ll see it’s well underway.”
The ruling is the end of the road for opponents. Their unsuccessful challenges have included a motion to stop the town from relocating the golf course’s 18th hole, plus various procedural challenges in the town’s development review of the project.
With Dunkelman’s ruling in their favor, the town council considered the risks associated with the appeal and voted to move forward with the project anyway, Silverthorn said.
“The council was comfortable that the renovation had been scaled appropriately to accommodate either outcome by the court,” she said.
Delays increased the costs
The project would have come in close to budget if it had been started in 2012, when it was supposed to, consultant Chris Penney of NV5 told council members in a meeting earlier this year.
Instead, construction costs have increased about 9 percent a year since 2012, Penney said.
A year ago, the Vail Town Council voted 6-1 to approve spending another $3.9 million on the renovation plan, originally budgeted for $7 million.
On Sept. 1, the council voted to spend $8,175,000 on it. Evan Chaffee Construction Group will build it. It’s expected to take 10-12 months to complete.
Daly said Vail will build consensus, and won’t try to recoup any of that money from the property owners who sued the town and stalled the project for years.
“I’m pleased the Town Council had the fortitude to keep the greater community’s interest at the forefront of this project so we could appropriately transform the building to meet the needs of current and future users in a way that will make us all proud by this time next year,” Daly said.
Mire and Kendra Carberry, of Hoffmann Parker, Wilson & Carberry, P.C. represented Vail in the case. Patrick Wilson from the same firm represented the Vail Recreation District.
The town owns the golf course property and has since 1984. It leases the buildings and grounds to the Vail Recreation District.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.