Will Vail Resorts redevelop Timber Ridge? | VailDaily.com

Will Vail Resorts redevelop Timber Ridge?

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” The Town Council in Vail, Colorado will decide next Tuesday whether to negotiate with Vail Resorts in order to redevelop Timber Ridge, the town’s largest employee housing project.

A group of town officials, housing experts and architects have been working for the last six months to help the town decide what to do with Timber Ridge, which houses about 800 seasonal workers.

Under the proposed redevelopment, the town would to maintain ownership of the land, redevelop the property in two phases, and increase the number of beds, said Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler.

If the town council decides to move forward, the town would negotiate with Vail Resorts, which master leases 170 out of 198 of Timber Ridge’s units for its employees, for 45 days.

Right now, the company is committed to providing 120 beds at the North Day Lot as part of the requirements associated with the Arrabelle in Lionshead Village. If Vail Resorts redevelops Timber Ridge, its housing obligations would move from the North Day Lot to Timber Ridge instead.

Some in the community might be opposed to moving the company’s housing obligations, Zemler said.

“It’ll be a tough conversation,” he said. “It’ll be controversial.”

Both Vail Resorts and Open Hospitality Group/Hillwood Capital, the group that wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure, have submitted redevelopment plans in the past, but the town rejected the proposals.

Town staff said that working with Vail Resorts to redevelop is the fastest way to get the project done.

“The most compelling factor is that if we want a 2010 start, the most expeditious way is to work something out with Vail Resorts, who is most closely aligned to the goals here,” Zemler said.

The town also considered putting out “requests for qualifications” from private developers, or for the town to act as the developer.

Zemler said the project, which could cost $40 million to $50 million, is too costly and too “high-risk” for the town to handle.

“The town has never taken on a project of that magnitude,” he said. “It (would be) a sizable debt, and I’m not sure where we’d get the financing.”

If the town gave the project to a developer, the redevelopment might take much longer to get started, and the town would have less control over the cost and details of the project.

Vail Resorts, on the other hand, has the financial backing and established development company to do such a project, and could probably get it started by 2010, according to town documents.

Also, since the complex mainly houses Vail Resorts employees, any solutions should involve the company, Zemler said.

The town has not talked to Vail Resorts about the negotiations. Company representatives could not be reached Thursday evening.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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