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Vail should keep building, group says

VAIL, Colorado ” A group of prominent residents urged Vail on Tuesday to act on an 18-point plan that ranges from cutting budgets to building a rec center to making nice with Vail Resorts.

The plan aims to absorb the impact of what the group predicts may be the toughest winter yet for the Vail economy. Focusing on big new projects like Ever Vail and a new rec center will help re-energize local development, the group says.

Developer and real estate executive Harry Frampton, Sonnenalp owner Johannes Faessler, FirstBank President Mark Ristow and retired investment banker Kent Logan, who have formed a group called Vail Citizens for Action, presented their plan to the Town Council on Tuesday.



“I don’t think we can go into the winter season thinking the season will be successful without us doing anything,” Faessler said.

Local business will be down anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, Frampton said.



The plan says:

– The town of Vail should improve relations with Vail Resorts. The town and the Broomfield-based company, which owns Vail Mountain, have clashed in recent months over issues including the Lionshead parking structure deed restriction and the Arrabelle at Vail Square housing requirements. The group called for the town of Vail and Vail Resorts to settle differences, from disputes over parking to housing to proposed developments such as the Lionshead parking structure.

– Make sure Ever Vail, the $1 billion ski village planned by Vail Resorts for West Lionshead, gets built.



“I’d argue that Vail Resorts is the only company in Colorado who can build Ever Vail,” Frampton said.

– Start rebuilding Timber Ridge by 2010.

“It’s one of the most despicable housing projects I’ve ever seen,” Frampton said, citing a photo of peeling paint at the aging, town-owned apartment complex.

The town is moving toward asking developers for new proposals for the redevelopment of the 200-apartment complex.

– Get the Lionshead parking structure under way. The project, proposed by a Texas developer, is a $900 million redevelopment of the parking garage that would include condos, timeshares, two hotels, a conference center, public parking, stores, restaurants and a transit center.

– Build a recreation center. Frampton cited other towns such as Avon and Minturn that have or are planning rec centers. He added that a rec center would attract families to Vail. The group suggests using the $9 million fund that remains from a failed plan for a conference center to build the facility.

– Keep the hospital in Vail. The Vail Valley Medical Center has unveiled plans to move some of its facilities downvalley.

– Build a parking garage at Ford Park. The town should use $4.3 million pledged by Vail Resorts toward building parking underground at Ford Park.

“If we can get all these things happening soon, we’ll have a great story, and that’s what the resort business is all about,” Frampton said.

Ristow also said the project will boost Vail.

“Now is the time to initiate these projects so they are available to fill in the gaps in 2010, when we don’t see any new, significant construction for the town of Vail,” he said.

The group also advocated that Vail cuts its budget and boosts marketing of the winter season.

“The danger is small moves and waiting to see how bad it’s going to get,” Logan said. “It’s going to get bad. … The great danger is not being bold enough right now.”

Some council members were amenable to the ideas. The council members agreed to call a special meeting for next Tuesday to discuss the group’s proposals.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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