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Vail Valley development company is expanding

VAIL, Colorado – Economic slumps are bad for most of us, but some companies use downturns to grow. Triumph Development is one of those companies.

The company’s most notable project to date is the Willows condominiums, near the Lodge at Vail. That project, started in 2005 and sold out two weeks after the financial collapse of 2008, tore down and replaced the original building, built in 1971, with a combination of part-owned and wholly owned condominiums.

The company was recently hired by the town of Vail, Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute to do a feasibility study for redeveloping the town’s municipal center. And it has recently expanded its operations into single-family homes, real estate sales and property management as well as its core business of multi-family and commercial development.

“We’ve had most of our success in tough times,” company co-founder Steve Virostek said.

Triumph is set to complete two single-family homes on Forest Road in Vail that don’t have buyers yet, and the company is building a home for a client near McCoy.

Company co-founder James Fangmeyer said he’s confident the Forest Road homes will find buyers soon enough.

“A couple of properties have sold recently for more than $2,000 per square foot,” Fangmeyer said. “We’re excited about the opportunity.”

Those homes will be listed through Forbes Sotheby’s Real Estate in Vail, which Triumph bought about 18 months ago. That company, Fangmeyer said, has sold about 40 percent of the high-end property in Vail this year.

But how did Triumph end up in a position to expand when a lot of development companies have foundered over the last three years or so?

The short answer is that the company didn’t take on too much debt during the real estate bubble years.

Founded in Bethesda, Md., in 2002, Virostek said the company saw property values rising too quickly in that area. For example, Fangmeyer said, a vacant lot near the company’s headquarters in Bethesda was on the market in the height of the boom.

“We had it valued at about $1.6 million,” Fangmeyer said. The parcel eventually sold for $2.3 million, and is still undeveloped today.

“We found ways to structure deals, so the downturn didn’t hit us as hard,” Fangmeyer said.

“We didn’t do the crazy deals,” Virostek said. “When the market was so hot in D.C., we went looking for other opportunities.”

The opportunities the company saw were in mountain resorts. Triumph scouted Telluride, Steamboat Springs and Vail. The partners chose Vail, and Virostek moved to the valley soon after. He and his family now own one of the units in the Willows. The company also started a program of sponsorship of local events through its participation in the Vail Valley Foundation, and, on its own, the Triumph Winterfest.

Now, six years after starting the Willows, Triumph has more employees working in Vail than in Bethesda. Fangmeyer still lives back east, but the company recently brought chief operating officer Michael O’Connor to Vail to help run the operation.

“We’re excited about the next five years,” Virostek said. “Especially if the national economy starts to turn around.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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