Vail’s growth boosts sales tax revenue
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – The town of Vail has grown, and its retail shops, restaurants and hotels have been producing positive results in terms of town sales tax revenue.
But as the money trickles in to the town, the individual businesses themselves often have varying stories to tell. Some experience increases, while others might see flat revenues or even losses, and a shaky economy means the effects of redevelopment in town aren’t yet truly known.
The most recent data from the Mountain Travel Research Project from the summer shows that “same stores” within the town of Vail, which includes data from a fixed set of existing businesses in town, enjoyed better results than last summer. The data can’t help determine whether those existing businesses are better or worse off because of new businesses that have come to town, however, said town of Vail Finance Director Judy Camp.
Camp said reports from the Vail Economic Advisory Council indicate that more people in town at new hotels have been good for retail and for restaurants.
While new hotels and restaurants that have opened may seem “hot” right now, some think the excitement will wear off and bring everyone to a level playing field.
Rayla Kundolf, director at Masters Gallery in Vail Village, said everyone wants to go to the new hot spots, but once that settles down, she expects all businesses in town to get a more even piece of the overall pie.
“I think it will spread out,” Kundolf said.
She reports that the gallery is about flat with last winter so far, but flat isn’t bad when you’re talking about a record-breaking December 2010 in terms of overall town sales tax revenues. She thinks people came to town a little later this season and seem to be staying a little later, too.
New hot spots also help existing businesses raise the bar, Kundolf said, which is good for the town as a whole.
“Each business needs to constantly reinvent themselves to keep it fresh, keep it new,” she said.
Growth in the town seems to have peaked – although Vail Resorts is still pushing through its $1 billion Ever Vail application, which would add more commercial space, condominiums and hotel rooms to the west side of Lionshead – and looking back on the strategy, some feel it has worked.
Vail Councilman Greg Moffet, who also owns Tiga Advertising and is on the Vail Economic Advisory Council, said new square footage in town has helped lower rents and allow a more diversified tenant base. A few years ago, places such as candy shops, wine and coffee shops would have had trouble affording space in either village, he said.
“The tenant mix is broadening,” Moffet said. “I think the pie is getting bigger – not getting bigger as fast as overall growth and retail space, but I think it will catch up quickly.”
Moffet said it’s hard to analyze economic data from the past 21⁄2 years because the national economy has been so bad. But having a better product mix in town means more people will shop, Moffet said.
“I see it creating opportunity,” he said. “Most of my customers aren’t complaining.”
Camp said there are always some businesses experiencing better and some experiencing worse results, but the town’s overall sales tax data doesn’t show which businesses fall into which category.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@
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