Vail Valley Voices: Projects making progress |

Vail Valley Voices: Projects making progress

Vail Homeowners Association
Vail, CO Colorado

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report in October. We plan to publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town.

All major development projects under construction are making steady progress toward completion within the next 12 months. No new construction of major development projects is proceeding. There is mounting concern that local governments need to go further in their requirements for complete financial disclosure and comprehensive guarantees for large development projects, particularly those involving public land and facilities. The nation’s financial difficulties are having effects on developers engaged with large local projects. Within the past months, two large projects in the Vail area, Avon’s Traer Creek and Minturn’s Battle Mountain Resort, have been in the news regarding development-related financial matters.

The Vail Town Council is considering the disposition of the Hillwood Development Co.’s proposal to receive an extended franchise for the redevelopment of the Lionshead parking structure. A recent Wall Street Journal report indicates there has been a reshuffling of Hillwood’s financial portfolio. Critics say local governments can no longer afford not to exercise their due diligence to the fullest extent. Developers who ask for zoning changes or franchises should be subject to the same due diligence a sophisticated private partner would perform before making a deal. Some have the view that until there are indications of a strong recovery in the private development sector, competing private development projects using town of Vail lands should not be encouraged or considered.

Ever Vail Update: Vail Resorts unveiled its architectural theme for its proposed Ever Vail development to the Vail Town Council. Distinctly contemporary in character, the design follows the town’s guidelines to recast Lionshead in a European mountain-resort style. While there are refinements as well as political obstacles remaining to be overcome, reportedly the council gave the presentation a favorable reception.

The architectural design plan is one in a progression of master-planning documents presented to the town over the past four years. The company’s planning effort has systematically responded to issues raised by the town. The company intends to submit its revised plan for formal review in November, with public hearings before reviewing bodies from this December to August 2010.

Political obstacles include pressure being applied by local interests to employ what some consider anticompetitive practices to outright stop the project.- Other interests, it is claimed, are making overreaching demands for exactions that are legally unrelated to the direct impacts of the Ever Vail project so as to give advantage to rival developers. In all likelihood, these issues will be undercurrents in the upcoming Town Council election. There are practical realities still remaining to be resolved for the project to optimize its market appeal. The most vexing is how

to provide for the redeployment of a wastewater-treatment plant located immediately adjacent to the Ever Vail site. According to technical sources, the encapsulation of the plant beneath new resort development is prevented by regulations controlling the handling of toxic chemicals used in the operation of the plant.

Currently, both town and Vail Resorts officials are awaiting a decision by the Colorado Department of Transportation clearing the way for South Frontage Road to be straightened and relocated adjacent to Interstate 70. It is the desire of Vail Resorts to begin construction on the frontage-road relocation next year. The start date for construction is dependent upon economic conditions. The facilities to be built first will include a gondola, parking, mountain maintenance facilities and a hotel as well as residential and commercial facilities.

Current project highlights include the addition of the Glen Lyon office building property to the project, the on-site employee housing exceeding the minimum town requirement, the relocation of the Devo youth ski-racing program, which now occurs at Golden Peak (long sought by the Homeowners Association), a new youth services facility run by the Vail Recreation District, a lecture hall/meeting space with views of Gore Creek capable of seating 260, a pedestrian retail area and market street, a 13,000-square-foot gourmet market, and below-grade parking structures with about 1,100 publicly available skier and retail parking spaces.

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