Vail Valley Voices: Ever Vail review continues
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report for December. 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’s report on the economic impacts of the proposed Ever Vail Town Center project in west Lionshead is completed. The findings of the report have caused the developer, Vail Resorts Inc., to scale back the amount of commercial space in their proposal by 30 percent. The report was prepared in response to accusations of “cannibalization” of existing businesses from many in the Vail business community. Both the town’s report and an earlier one prepared by Vail Resorts conclude that Ever Vail will have a positive impact on the community’s economy.
Critics of the Town’s $85,000 report say that the methodology used by the town’s consultants is flawed. The consultants based their conclusions on one year of financial projections rather than multiple years, which is a standard practice in financial forecasting.
There is no recognition of a perpetual revenue stream from real estate transfer taxes, which, over time amounts to many millions of dollars. Capital budgeting estimates are haphazard and overly emphasized. The value of the project’s benefits is not put in a broader context of extending the economic productivity of an aging resort.
There is no comparative analysis of the before and after economic impacts of the Lionshead redevelopment, which is the best measuring stick to base Ever Vail projections upon. There is little to no discussion of the positive aspects of the community’s redevelopment, nor is account taken of the lead time between town approval, the completion of construction and the sales of real estate inventories.
The layout of the report is confusing and not straightforward in its presentation. The report does not recognize that competing resorts the world over copy Vail as a market leader.
There is frustration on the part of several community policy makers and advisors that the consultants and town staff, after repeated requests, have not provided them with an inventory of economic indicators for the other mixed-use commercial centers in the community. They view this as obstructionism because members of the town staff appear to have their own agenda. The requested data is critical for community decision makers to put the Ever Vail economic analysis in a proper context. The importance of the methodological correctness of this study cannot be over-emphasized as all future development proposals will be measured against its findings. Flaws in methodology can lead to irreversible errors in the community’s long-term economic policies and fortunes. Now that the Town is using economic factors in reviewing development proposals, it must be held responsible for adopting industry standards and criteria.
There is no need for further economic analysis of Ever Vail, say the town’s critics, as additional refinement will only further reinforce its positive economic benefits. The question remains, does the community desire to continue looking at an industrial site, or to look forward to amenities offered by a new village, once economic conditions permit?
These critics also feel that staff obstructionism applies to community-wide parking analysis, where many believe that there is and will be more supply, particularly in the private sector, than is being documented or forecasted by these town officials. The town staff, in these critics’ view, obstructs analyzing parking projections based on “yield management” where price is used to optimize occupancy, as is in practice at the new Solaris public parking garage. Likewise, there has been foot dragging on installing state-of-the-art variable message signage to direct consumers to available public and private parking. Yet the town staff persists in pursuing frontage road parking, an anathema to those who insist that Vail not be presented to passers by on Interstate 70 as a “truck stop.”
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