Vail Golf Club clubhouse costs rising again |

Vail Golf Club clubhouse costs rising again

VAIL — The price tag has gone up again for a new clubhouse at the Vail Golf Club. This time, the increase is roughly $650,000.

The additional cost will push the total price of the clubhouse past $11 million. While the original budget of $7 million was surpassed due to delays in starting work, the current increase has more to do with discoveries of additional work because of starting with an old building and the vagaries of construction during the winter in Vail. The entire project, though, is still on track to be finished by August of this year.

Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler told the Vail Town Council on Tuesday that while building in the winter isn’t unusual in Vail, this season has been particularly cold, which has delayed some work due to the need to move snow.

Then there are the inevitable surprises that come with working on a building constructed in the 1970s.

Zemler said work on utility lines has damaged some of the golf course turf. Original plans called for using at least some of the structure of the old building, but Zemler said inspections after the structure was stripped to its skeleton essentially condemned the old building.

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That means the clubhouse will be an all-new structure when it’s finished.

Additional costs are coming from installing an upgraded drainage system at the driving range. Now, underground piping will pull water away from the course instead of original plans for an above-ground ditch called a swale.

Zemler told council members that revisions to the project will allow some improvements to the structure. Those improvements will include a snowmelt system using heated water instead of electric lines, a electricity-generating solar panels on the roof and an upgraded ceiling in the clubhouse.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the new expenses, but only after some discussion.

“Nobody should be surprised that we’re seeing this,” council member Dick Cleveland said, adding that perhaps the town should have sought damages from the parties to a pair of lawsuits against the town regarding the clubhouse.

That litigation, brought by clubhouse neighbors, claimed, in part, that the town violated a contractual limit in the original sale of the course property to the town, and that clubhouse project would be incompatible with the neighborhood.

The town prevailed in those lawsuits, but there was a lengthy delay in starting work. During that time, a construction boom hit the state. That boom has helped fuel significant cost increases spanning the past three years or so.

Doing the job right

But, Cleveland said, he believes the town will get its money’s worth from the project.

“Let’s get this done, and get it done to a quality the people in this community deserve,” Cleveland said.

That sentiment was common among council members.

“We have to do this right, council member Jenn Bruno said, adding that the clubhouse must reflect the Vail brand.

Council member Greg Moffet said that when the project is finally finished, the cost overruns will fade from memory. But, he added, “This is painful.”

While the town will put another $650,000 into the clubhouse project, most of the money isn’t coming from the town’s general fund.

Zemler said most of the additional funding will come from a combination of rent paid to the town by the Vail Recreation District, which operates the course, as well as savings from a golf course improvements fund and money from the town’s real estate transfer tax. That money is dedicated to the purchase and maintenance of town open space and recreational facilities.

“This thing’s been a snakepit since we got into it,” Mayor Dave Chapin said. “But this is Vail. We need a world-class facility. It’s what our guests expect.”

While the town is putting a lot of money into this course improvement, Vail Recreation District Director Mike Ortiz said the town has had solid returns on its investments at the course in the past, particularly when the course was built by Ben Kreuger in the 1960s.

“He built each nine (holes) for $160,000 each,” Ortiz said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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