Vail parking-garage plan almost ends
VAIL, Colorado ” The $900 million Lionshead parking-structure proposal for Vail, Colorado will stay alive for at least three more weeks.
But three Vail Town Council members voted Tuesday to kill an agreement that’s vital to making the massive project hap-pen, putting the future of the project in doubt.
The proposal would replace the park-ing structure with a four- star W Hotel, a five- star St. Regis Hotel, condos, time-shares, stores, restaurants, a conference center and even more public parking.
“I don’t think there is any reasonable expectation that this can be developed under the current circumstances, and I think it’s time for the town to take responsibility for the parking structure and fix it,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland, referring to improve-ments such as new bathrooms, a new elevator, concrete repair and heating improvements that are needed at the aging building.
Vail Resorts’ “deed restriction” on the property remains a huge hurdle, Cleve-land said.
He voted along with Andy Daly and Kevin Foley to terminate the “developer improvement agreement” that the town approved last summer.
Council members were concerned that the deal leaves the town- owned proper-ty in limbo.
“In all likelihood, this project is not going to be able to be financed for five or 10 years, until we see a substantial recov-ery of the real estate markets,” Daly said. ” … If we just continue to roll this over, we’re actually losing some control over the property in that we don’t have a free hand to do whatever we want with it.”
Foley said Vail doesn’t need two more fancy hotels.
The property is owned by the town, but Vail Resorts, which donated the land to the town, retains a deed restriction on the property. Tuesday was the deadline for the restriction to be lifted.
Three council members ” Mark Gor-don, Kim Newbury and Margaret Rogers ” voted to extend the deadline for 90 days. The 3- 3 vote ” Councilman Far-row Hitt was absent ” meant that the deadline wasn’t extended. The council then voted 5- 1, with Cleveland dissent-ing, to table the item until April 7. That gives the project life for at least three more weeks.
The town met with Vail Resorts a cou-ple of weeks ago to start to flesh out the condition under which it would release the deed restriction, said Kristin Kenney Williams, a spokeswoman for Vail Resorts.
“It’s going to take a while,” she said.
Vail Resorts has said the parking struc-ture at Ever Vail, the $ 1 billion project VR plans for West Lionshead, must be com-pleted before it would allow the Lion-shead parking structure to be torn down. The town of Vail, in turn, said last year it would not approve Vail Resorts’ Ever Vail unless the Lionshead parking-struc-ture restriction was lifted.
Mark Masinter, representative for Open Hospitality Partners- Hillwood Capital, the Dallas- based developer, said he was surprised by the willingness of three council mem-bers to kill the deal.
“I’m not sure what I can say. Look, at least they’re just tabling it,” he said, adding that he was hopeful the exten-sion would be approved at the next meeting.
Masinter said his group has spent mil-lions of dollars on the project so far.
“I’m outside of the deed restriction,” he said. ” I don’t control it.”
Gordon noted progress toward lifting the deed restriction.
We have just started to see some of the ice breaking from Vail Resorts in moving toward releasing the deed restriction,” he said. ” It seems like, right now, if we were to not grant this 90- day extension, or even another 90- day exten-sion, it seems like the ice dam would be built right back up.”
Kaye Ferry, a Vail resident, told the council she was “stunned” by the willing-ness to kill the deal.
“I think it’s a tragedy and a travesty if you don’t give him a 90- day extension,” Ferry said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.