Vail Valley Voices: Vail considers the possibilities
Vail, CO Colorado
A Vail Town Council member has recently rea-soned publicly that one justification for a pro-posed 1,000-seat conference center is that it could be used by art dealers for large-scale art markets, similar to those held elsewhere in the United States and Europe.
The concept is unrealistic, says a source famil-iar with these events. To build a convention cen-ter for such a purpose shows a complete lack of understanding of the art market.
One of the largest of a number of shows in the United States is Art Basil in Miami, which has several satellite shows running at the same time. The Armory Show in New York City and the Navy Pier show in Chicago are two others that are large and famous.
These are massively complex events. You don’t just announce it or proceed on a ” build it and they will come” approach. Starting such a show requires an experienced promoter.
One of the keys is getting the larger national and international art com-munity to attend the show.
There are not enough of those kinds of buyers in Vail.
That is the reason that they will have to be brought in, requiring extensive promotion with advertising, marketing and inducements.
It requires getting top galleries to participate and, more importantly, to ship their best pieces to the location.
That is expensive, and the galleries will only do it if there is a realistic potential of a sufficient number of buyers to justify the expense. Nowa-days, a certain amount of the art is even presold before the show.
These shows set high standards. By compari-son, the existing shows at Lionshead and Beaver Creek are minor league.
If there is a desire for some group to take on the task of taking the first step, one gallery oper-ator says, there are an ample number of display spaces already available throughout the commu-nity.
There is no need for waiting to build a con-vention center before the first step is taken.
Eagle-Vail now stands on its own: During the November Vail Town Council election, the idea of Vail annexing Eagle-Vail was floated. At the time, Eagle-Vail voters were considering an elec-tion issue that would finance $ 7 million in recre-ational improvements, which was subsequently approved.
The election gave Eagle-Vail greater financial independence, so much so that follow- up dis-cussions by either community about annexation remain dormant.
Eagle-Vail is an unincorporated community in Eagle County west of Dowd Junction. Eagle County has embarked upon an update of its master plan for Eagle-Vail. It is partially motivat-ed by a possible disposal of portions of a section of land owned by the Colorado Land Board.
In recent years, the town of Minturn, to protect its long- term interests, included Eagle-Vail in its three- mile master plan, giving it a stake in any move by a competitive municipality to seek annexation.
The town of Vail has not completed a similar extra territorial plan other than its boundary land adjustment plan done some years ago in conjunc-tion with the U. S. Forest Service.
Vail needs to annex state Land Board site: The Homeowners Associ-ation has noted to both the Vail Town Council and the Board of County Commission-ers at a joint work session in Vail that the state-owned land is critical to the long- term trans-portation interests of the town of Vail.
These interests are of sufficient magnitude that the town should consider annexation of strategi-cally important portions of a large section of land known as the state Land Board site. Should annexation be considered, it would need to be done in close consultation with all other adja-cent jurisdictions.
The most compelling reason for annexation is that the Colorado Department of Transportation has considered building an Interstate 70 bypass tunnel at Dowd Junction around landslide-prone areas. The west portal of the bypass tunnel may occur near or on a portion of the state- owned section, north of the Eagle River.
This portion of the state Land Board site may be well suited for transporta-tion- related uses.
Critical transportation junction: The Union Pacific railroad tracks are immediately adjacent to the Land Board site. The Colorado Department of Transportation has recently com-pleted the necessary compliance qual-ifications to receive further federal consideration in its long-range plan-ning for “high-speed” train service from Denver along I-70 to the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Rocky Mountain Rail Authority Report: This accomplishment increas-es the importance of the state Land Board site, as it is strategically located for a future passenger train station that could serve both Vail and Eagle-Vail. The station location will be decided depending upon the final choice between two proposed routes: Vail Pass-Vail or Leadville-Minturn.
If the latter is chosen, a railroad spur may need to be built to Vail, which would again bring the Land Board site into play.
The state Land Board site may play a role even if the large CDOT high-speed train system becomes less of a factor.
A promotional group in Eagle County is getting support from local governments to pursue its GreenPort initiative. The initiative is a real estate-based regional economic- develop-ment strategy that would use the cur-rent Union Pacific rail line to serve several new affordable-housing com-munities between Vail and the Eagle County airport.
GreenPort proponents are saying there is a need to investigate rail serv-ice into Vail from Dowd Junction. Rail service to Vail has already been stud-ied within recent years by Eagle County.
The Land Board site, as well as oth-er sites in the immediate vicinity and south toward Minturn, offer the poten-tial to be important for future com-muter parking and related uses.
The Forest Service parking lot at Dowd Junction is already being used as a commuter parking lot for Vail employees. In the view of some, the town of Vail would be better served by investing in outlying parking rather than spending public funds on expen-sive new parking structures.