Vail on verge of big housing deal? |

Vail on verge of big housing deal?

Special to the DailyA Texas developer is pushing the town of Vail to sell part of Timber Ridge, the town-owned employee-housing complex, so it can be rebuilt into a 1,264-bed complex.

VAIL, Colorado ” Vail could decide Tuesday night whether to move forward with ” or step back from ” a developer’s plan to rebuild Timber Ridge, the town’s big affordable housing complex.

The Texas developer is pushing the town to make the multi-million-dollar deal for the land ” perhaps the biggest developable property the town owns.

The proposal would more than double the number of beds there now to 1,264 using only about two-thirds of the 10-acre property. The town would sell 6.2 acres of Timber Ridge for $13.2 million. The remaining 3.8 acres would be saved for future development.

Mark Masinter, a leader of the development group, Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital, will present the plan to the Town Council tonight. Masinter’s group also wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure into condos, hotels, timeshares, restaurants, stores and even more parking.

But some say the town’s moving too quickly on Timber Ridge.

“We’ve got the cart before the horse,” said Margaret Rogers, a Vail councilwoman.

Timber Ridge is indeed the primary spot in Vail for affordable housing, but the town needs to figure out how much housing is appropriate there, Rogers said. Other things that the town needs ” like parking or a transit center ” might work there, too, Rogers said.

But others see more study as a step backwards.

“Mark’s group is the only group who’s brought forward something and is actually ready to do it and ready to start,” said Farrow Hitt, another Vail councilman. “We might have a real chance of having housing built and see it rather than a lot of talk and never seeing anything.”

Several years ago, the town chose Corum Real Estate to rebuild the complex, but that deal fell apart. Vail Resorts, operator of Vail and Beaver Creek mountains, has also expressed interest in rebuilding the complex. The town didn’t go for that plan, and, meanwhile, Vail Resorts has lagged in coming up with a plan to meet its 120-bed employee-housing requirement for the Arrabelle at Vail Square.

The 200-apartment Timber Ridge was built in 1981, and is now deteriorating. A recent town study detailed leaky roofs, loose railings and missing floorboards, saying the complex needs $2.5 million in repairs over the next seven years to remain habitable.

During the winter, the complex is leased by Vail Resorts, which uses it to house employees who work on Vail Mountain.

The town bought Timber Ridge in 2003 to save it as affordable housing.

Under the new proposal, all of the units would be rentals. Masinter said he wants to work with other companies, including Vail Resorts, so they can rent some of the housing, too.

“I think it’s our hope that it’s the finest employee housing, for-rent project in the valley,” Masinter said.

If the Town Council gives the green light to Masinter tonight, that wouldn’t be the final approval for Timber Ridge. The town would draft an agreement between Vail and the developer that would have to be approved later.

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

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