VR steps up with Vassar deal | VailDaily.com

VR steps up with Vassar deal

Don Rogers

In the end, Vail Resorts ponied up to the tune of $4.7 million to make the Vassar Meadows public land and 5 key acres next to Vail Village private. Oh, there is another piece of this trade, better than 100 acres of South Game Creek owned by the ski company, which will go to the Forest Service.The stars are the private enclave in the national forest once bound to become part of a ski resort, and that key sliver that will allow Vail Resorts Front Door “renaissance” to happen.Not bad for a company that was rumored to be thisclose to selling mere weeks ago. The benefit for the ski company – and the town of Vail – is obvious. The company can build homes on the prime sliver between village and start of the ski slope on the surface, and go underground with loading, delivery and those ugly Dumpsters and parking in that area now.With those homesites selling for a fortune on the Lionshead side of the company’s hand in the renaissance, the signs are excellent they’ll do at least as well on the Vail Village side, too.There’s also an almost audible sense of confidence in Vail’s future with deals like this. Vail Resorts has weathered some doubt of late, between the sale that wasn’t and perhaps too-gloomy assessments of the company’s financial struggles through recession and that post-9/11 blow to tourism in general. The purchases in recent years of hotels and the hotel chain RockResorts, panned by some observers as a drag on the ski company, may yet show the hand of genius if this economic turnaround proves lasting. Remember that these, along with Heavenly ski resort, came to VR as bargains at the time.Skiing as a sport isn’t dying, after all, in the new millennium. The baby boomers still seem to be buying all the second homes they can find, which has large implications in Eagle County with already half the homes here owned by out-of-towners. The Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts have continued to improve even through these difficult times. And now, Vail’s “renaissance” – talked endlessly about for what, 15, 20 years? – is steaming toward the core construction phase. That’s mainly Vail Resorts’ effort, which will be the catalyst for other enterprises to move from talking to doing.Listen, if VR has the means to drop $4.7 million on preserving 357 or more acres of land inside the national forest, things aren’t so bad for the company or the communities that ultimately depend on its success.Besides, in an entirely different way, finally locking down the preservation of Vassar Meadows is every bit as significant as the Front Door. Actually more so.So, armchair critics, go ahead. It won’t kill you. Tell ’em good job. They earned it this time.Vail, Colorado

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