Vail’s Ever Vail development may see key approvals expire, requiring a new start
By the numbers
1.095 million: Maximum square feet proposed at the Ever Vail site.
12.6 acres: Site size.
450: Maximum number of dwelling units.
45: Maximum number of employee housing units.
Source: Town of Vail
VAIL — When the Vail Town Council in late 2012 approved Vail Resorts’ application for the massive Ever Vail development, it was already uncertain as to when work would begin. Now, the clock is ticking rapidly on a handful of key approvals that could derail the project as proposed.
At the Vail Town Council’s afternoon meeting on Tuesday, May 1, town planner Jonathan Spence updated the Vail Town Council on the status of the project. The key takeaway is that several key approvals expire on Dec. 31, 2020.
That date seemed a long way off when the Vail Town Council in late 2012 approved plans for a third mountain portal between Lionshead and Cascade villages. Now, though, needed work could take longer than time remaining on the approvals.
Perhaps the most complex job is moving South Frontage Road. The frontage road now roughly bisects the 12.6-acre site, with Vail Resorts’ shops between the frontage road and Interstate 70.
Town project manager Greg Hall told council members that moving the road is more complex than just a construction project. Vail’s frontage roads are owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation. A plan to move a portion of one of those roads will require an agreement with the state agency to build the road to state standards and for Vail Resorts and the state agency to exchange property.
That work needs to be finished — and the property details recorded on a document called a plat — before Dec. 31, 2020. That could be difficult.
If that deadline isn’t met, then the approval — a preliminary plan for a major subdivision — will expire. That means a developer would need to essentially start fresh.
That deadline also applies to approvals for re-zoning the property and an amendment to the existing special development district. Both of those approvals control uses on the 12.6-acre parcel.
Will approvals expire?
Council member Kevin Foley asked Spence if the deadlines makes it likely the Ever Vail approvals will expire.
Spence said that appears to be the case, noting that even an extension would require an application to the town, followed by public hearings.
Council member Greg Moffet noted that the resort economy has changed significantly since 2012. The existing plan envisions using at least a portion of the housing units for fractional-fee use, a market that has essentially vanished.
In fact, the Four Seasons Resort in Vail is this year converting a number of unsold fractional-fee units to whole-ownership condos.
Further complicating building the originally envisioned combination of housing, lodging, retail, parking and base-area uses is the fact that since late 2014, Vail Resorts is no longer in the business of developing the property it owns.
At the time, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz told a meeting of the Vail Homeowners Association that the move was made to allow the company to put more focus on its resort operations.
Few parcels remain
The company doesn’t own much real estate these days, but parcels include the Ever Vail site, as well as a 23.3-acre site in East Vail. The Vail Town Council last year re-zoned that parcel into a combination of natural area preservation and housing zoning. About 5.3 acres of the parcel is now reserved for workforce housing.
As it did for a project in Summit County, Vail Resorts is now seeking a development partner for the East Vail parcel.
In a statement, Vail Resorts Vice President of Mountain Community Affairs Kristin Kenney Williams wrote, “We’re committed to finding the right developers for each opportunity to ensure that projects enhance the entire resort community and carefully consider our guests and local residents.”
Kenney Williams added that in the case of Ever Vail, it’s too early to tell what adjustments and opportunities the parcel might hold for a prospective developer.
With the future of the Ever Vail parcel in flux. Council member Kim Langmaid said she hopes any new development plans include community needs.
“That space is such an opportunity for the community,” Langmaid said.
Moffet said he expects any developer bringing in a new Ever Vail plan will need a mostly fresh start.
“This is going to have to get revisited kind of soup to nuts,” Moffet said. “There’s not a lot (a developer) can take to a bank.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 and firstname.lastname@example.org.