Vail Resorts housing deal irks some locals
VAIL ” The Arrabelle at Vail Square is set to open this month, but Vail Resorts’ worker housing for the project is likely several years from completion.
Some residents and business owners aren’t pleased that the town has allowed that disparity.
“If I was in charge, there’d be heads rolling about it,” said Carol Alleman, general manager of the Galatyn Lodge.
The community is already in “crisis” because businesses can’t find workers, Alleman said.
“You can’t even get bad people to apply for your jobs,” she said.
Packy Walker said the council had a chance to help solve Vail’s housing woes with the Arrabelle.
“Next time we deal with someone new, make sure it’s done properly,” he said.
Tommy Neyens, who owns a ski shop, also said businesses are having trouble finding workers.
“It doesn’t look like Vail Resorts is really being held to the fire,” he said.
Vail Resorts owes 120 beds of employee housing because of the Arrabelle, and the town favors a plan to build them on the “North Day Lot” parking lot in Lionshead.
Under a 2004 agreement, Vail Resorts vowed to come up with a plan to provide the employee housing before the Arrabelle could open, according to the town’s interpretation of the agreement. With the Arrabelle set to open in less than two weeks, no plan has been approved.
Over the last few weeks, Vail Resorts has repeatedly said it’s committed to building employee housing for the Arrabelle. Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said the company simply wants guidance and parameters from the town and has been working diligently with the town on the housing for months.
Katz said Thursday the town and the company are getting closer to an agreement.
The $250 million Arrabelle at Vail Square includes 67 condos, 36 hotel rooms, three restaurants, stores such as Burton, Quiksilver, Patagonia, Vail Sports, Starbucks and Haagen-Dazs and skier services facilities. The slopeside complex, on the site of the old Gondola Building and adjacent to Vail’s gondola, is billed as the centerpiece of Lionshead’s large-scale renewal.
The developer, Broomfield-based Vail Resorts, is a publicly-traded company that operates Vail and Beaver Creek mountains. Vail Resorts also is developing the Vail’s Ritz-Carlton Residences, the Front Door and Ever Vail.
At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, council members gave the green light to a plan that says Vail Resorts should build the housing on the North Day Lot.
Developers customarily have to provide housing before their developments can open.
But Vail Resorts and the town agreed to more lax housing requirements in 2004 so an agreement could be worked out at Timber Ridge. That aging, 10-acre, town-owned employee housing complex faces significant structural problems and is in need of redevelopment.
But the Timber Ridge plan never materialized.
Neyens, whose business is near the North Day Lot, told the council to expect some opposition from neighbors of the parking lot.
“The not-in-my-neighborhood could come into play,” Neyens said.
Mayor Dick Cleveland said the North Day Lot makes the most sense for the location of the housing.
“It’s an obvious answer to this dilemma at this point,” he said.
It’s a dilemma that no one wants to be in, Cleveland said.
“I don’t think anyone’s happy to be here,” he said. “I think there’s plenty of blame to go around, to Vail Resorts and the town.”
Councilman Farrow Hitt said the town should just take the $17.3 million if the North Day Lot plan dissolves.
“I want to cut the options down,” he said. “It’s cut bait or fish.”
Other council members disagreed, and several options remain.
If the North Day Lot doesn’t work out, the town would reserve the right to either:
– Take $17.3 million from Vail Resorts.
– Make Vail Resorts buy housing at a rebuilt Timber Ridge.
– Make Vail Resorts create housing at some other new project.
The town will meet at 2 p.m. next Tuesday to further discuss the plan.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.