Vail Valley Voices: Ever Vail at the forefront
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for September. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com
The town of Vail has thus far frustrated approval of Ever Vail through its demand for financial exactions, primarily for public parking.
Ever Vail is Vail Resorts’ proposed linchpin project, a high-density commercial and residential development on 12 acres in west Lionshead.
There are those who believe the town’s demands are unrealistic and unnecessarily obstreperous. Some say the advantage of Ever Vail’s development is that its construction will not interfere with the ongoing commerce of Vail Village and Lionshead, unlike the redevelopment of the past decade. It will create large numbers of badly needed private sector construction and service jobs.
Town approval is needed so that the three- to five-year-long preconstruction and sales programs can be set in motion, timed to take advantage of potential foreign investors.
Some see an early advantage being gained by installing the proposed new gondola and clearing much of the site for a large visitor parking lot.
Resort real estate
Domestic investment in resort real estate is limited, but globally there are opportunities.
Mexico is experiencing positive economic growth, along with increasing employment and educational opportunities, which benefit its middle class.
Likely to increase in the coming months is “flight capital” from affluent Mexican nationals seeking sanctuary investments in the United States. The repositioning of capital is caused by mounting concern over the outcome of Mexico’s 2012 presidential election and is pervasively influenced by their country’s narcotics war.
Brazil is another strong Latin American market for Vail because of its healthy economic growth based on the development of its extensive offshore oil reserves and other natural resources.
With the devaluation of the euro, skiers from southern South American countries will most likely continue following their historical pattern of skiing in Europe. If the euro declines significantly against the U.S. dollar, fewer visitors from Eurocentric countries should be expected.
The Asian market, where for the affluent, mimicking each other’s luxury vacation choices brings higher status, offers promise for Vail.
However, some believe there is a risk of alienating the burgeoning Latin market, as there are competitive trade aversions with historic antecedents on the part of many Latin American entrepreneurs toward their Asian counterparts.
Others say that if Vail is to be a truly unique international resort community, it must welcome the entire world. These are but some of the challenges the Vail community should be considering as it moves into the international arena.
Analysts say that it takes five visits to convert a Vail destination guest into a Vail homeowner. Therefore, an important question for the community to focus on is which international markets are most likely to generate ample new Vail property owners?
Business improving; are promotional costs sustainable? The town is looking for a convincing replacement to real estate development to sustain the local economy and its own municipal work force.
Aggressive promotion of special events in the summer months has been the recipe for success, as gauged by sales tax receipts, for the past three summers.
Now, however, the Town Council is saying it cannot afford to continue underwriting the cost of special events to the same degree it has previously. The message being sent is that the private sector will be expected to pick up the slack, primarily through hoped-for corporate sponsorship, as local businesses and their trade associations are also dependent upon the town’s largesse.
It is reported that there are growing conflicts among special-events promoters seeking to host their events on the streets of Vail during the crowded calendar of prime tourism weekends.
The well-established summer Sunday farmers market is increasingly being pushed about so that the other venue promoters can host street races and the like.
Some believe there are diminishing returns for visitors and residents from have too many competing or conflicting events.
Transportation links, getting here made easier: Both the past summer and winter tourism seasons have experienced increases in international visitors, due to the efforts of a combined town of Vail and Vail Resorts marketing effort in Mexico.
Ease of access is a key component in attracting both domestic and international visitors. Central to visitor access are Interstate 70 and the Eagle County Regional Airport. Each has a limiting constraint upon tourism.
Interstate 70 and frontage parking boon and bane: The reliability of access by Interstate 70 is beyond the capacity of the community to substantively affect. It will remain the primary mode of access, but become more of a wild card, subject to unresolved funding, capacity limitations and the vagaries of bad drivers in bad weather.
The prospect of putting tolls on the intermountain route remains on the horizon. Tolling I-70 is the most direct means of controlling traffic congestion and funding the billions of dollars needed to finance Interstate improvements between Denver and Vail.
Traffic noise remains a nagging and unresolved problem for many residential property owners.
Frontage Road and public parking have diminished as a political trump card issued to play one local faction against another.
Eagle County Regional Airport growth stuck in neutral: The county airport, with local cash subsidies to underwrite flights to international hub destinations in the United States, has the potential to increase the volume of affluent tourism.
Airlines want cash subsidies to add new flights into the airport. There is a proposal that could improve accountability for the hotels and entities that finance the subsidies.