Vail: Lionshead plan on the line
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Tuesday in Vail isn’t all about the election – the Vail Town Council has just one major agenda item, and that’s to decide whether to give a Texas developer an exclusive option to redevelop the Lionshead parking structure.
The Town Council voted 3-3 at its Oct. 20 meeting about the deal. The tie meant there would have been no action on the deal, and the council could have brought it back again at a later meeting. After the 3-3 vote, however, Councilman Farrow Hitt asked to table the decision until the next meeting because Councilwoman Margaret Rogers was absent.
The agreement would mean Mark Masinter and Open Hospitality Partners would have a five-year exclusive option to redevelop Lionshead parking structure, or three years following the removal of the deed restriction on the site held by Vail Resorts, whichever comes first.
Once the deed restriction is removed, which Vail Resorts has said would happen as part of its Ever Vail project approval, Masinter would pay $500,000 to the town to enter into the exclusive option. The town of Vail or Masinter could pull out with 30 days notice anytime before the $500,000 payment. Masinter would have 18 months, however, to submit an application after the date of the payment.
Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kristin Williams spoke at the Oct. 20 meeting against the proposal. She said the town would be making a mistake by excluding other options and developers for the site in such an uncertain economy.
“We think that approval of this proposed agreement doesn’t benefit the town of Vail or the community in any way,” Williams said Monday. “It really benefits this one person, the developer.”
Williams said it’s somewhat ironic that the town would be tying its hands to the site with one developer just as it would be freeing itself from the deed restriction once Vail Resorts lifts it as part of the Ever Vail application.
“Our commitment to lift the deed restriction still stands,” Williams said.
Mayor Dick Cleveland voted against the proposal Oct. 20 and said the town shouldn’t be talking about any redevelopment plans on the Lionshead parking site until the deed restriction is lifted.
Those who voted in favor of it Oct. 20 – Council members Kim Newbury, Mark Gordon and Farrow Hitt – have said the developer went through a long public process and showed commitment to the project, therefore should get an option to develop it.
Newbury said it’s still up in the air whether the town would approve a redevelopment there, but Masinter has presented “enough good ideas and worked closely with the town” to at least have the option, she said.
Masinter said he hoped Open Hospitality Partners had earned its right for the agreement by its work with the community.
Gordon said the town could still deny an application or invoke its 30-day pull-out clause in the agreement, so the town’s hands aren’t tied, he said.
Vail Resorts, however, thinks the town should keep its options more open than the agreement allows, Williams said.
Councilwoman Margaret Rogers, who was absent at the Oct. 20 meeting, has previously supported Masinter’s plans to redevelop the site. If members vote the same was as they did Oct. 20, Rogers would be the deciding vote.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org