Vail Valley Medical Center stops parking structure plan

A potential deal between the town of Vail and the town’s medical providersto create a 250-space Vail Valley Medical parking structure has fallen through.
Anthony Thornton | Daily file photo |

Through the years

2011: The town of Vail, along with Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Howard Head Sports Medicine, works on a plan that would result in a parking structure and medical office building on the western portion of the town’s municipal complex.

April 2012: The town agrees with the medical partners on a deal in which the town would sell part of its municipal complex for $5 million.

November 2012: The Steadman Clinic pulls out of the deal, killing the entire partnership.

July: Town and medical center officials announce they’ve been in discussions to build a parking structure on part of the municipal campus property.

Aug. 5: Town and medical center officials announce the demise of that plan.

VAIL — Another potential deal has fallen through between the town of Vail and the town’s medical providers. This time, the potential project was a 250-space Vail Valley Medical parking structure on the western part of the town’s municipal center property.

Medical center CEO Doris Kirchner made the announcement Tuesday, thanking town staff for their time and effort in planning a structure for the site.

“We took a hard look at it, and the economics just don’t make sense,” Kirchner told council members.

The medical center is currently deeply involved in planning a $100 million renovation of its campus. Kirchner said medical center planners have determined it’s more cost effective to put more parking on property the hospital already owns.

Medical center and town officials last month briefed council members on the plan. That plan would have torn down the town’s existing community development offices and replaced that building with a 250-space parking structure. That structure would have been linked to the medical center by either a tunnel or pedestrian bridge across South Frontage Road. It would have been used primarily by medical center employees and would have added some weekend skier parking as well.

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The demise of that deal is the second time a project intended for the west portion of the municipal campus has fallen through.

In 2011 and 2012, the town, the medical center, the Steadman Clinic, the Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Howard Head Sports Medicine spent untold hours on a plan that would have resulted in a new medical office building on the property. At the time, the town expected to sell the land to the medical partners, with the $5 million from the sale going toward building a new town hall. Money from the land sale would have covered about 25 percent of the 2012 estimated cost of the town’s part of the project.

That deal had moved far enough along that the town had done a good deal of planning for its new building. In November of 2012, the Steadman Clinic, a partnership of several surgeons, pulled out of the office building project. That killed the deal.

Since then, the medical center has moved ahead planning its own renovation. Work could start in mid-2015 on the first phases of that project.


While the latest plan with the medical center has fallen through, Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler said the work wasn’t done in vain.

“We learned a lot in this process,” Zemler said, noting that the parking structure idea required a close look at how traffic would circulate on South Frontage Road.

Council member Margaret Rogers asked Zemler if any of the work done could be helpful in the design of a new town hall.

“We’re looking to you for that direction,” Zemler said. “We’ve learned a lot about parking, and perhaps a housing element here at town hall.”

That’s probably the next planning work for the property, work that is unlikely to require partners.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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