Vail Daily column: A new venue for Vail?
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The possibility of an education and/or meeting center continues to percolate. In April, the Town Council put an “education center” back on its agenda when it assigned it as a planning responsibility to the Commission on Special Events. The Education Center has in recent years been envisioned by advocates as hosting economic conferences such as those held in Davos, Switzerland, the Gerald R. Ford World Forum conferences convened by former President Ford in the 1980s, and the Vail Global Energy Forum. Vail has also been the site of high level discussions between American and Mexican officials within the last year. Such international assemblies bring the need for state of the art communications and higher levels of security. Other types of entertainment venues are being considered.
The municipal complex and charter bus parking lot on the east side of the Lionshead parking structure are among the potential locations for these types of new facilities. In the past decade, there has been study of building a venue to house a medical conference center, which included investigating adding conference space above the Dobson Arena. The search for sites on which to build new venues comes amid a growing awareness that the hosting of events is having the effect of increasing traffic and parking congestion in Vail’s Town Center.
The education center may well become another iteration of a conference or convention/event center, ideas that have been rejected by the electorate several times in Vail’s history. Construction and operating costs have always troubled voters. The last proposal in 2005, to be located on the Charter Bus Parking Lot, was defeated because construction costs escalated due, in part, to the need to provide additional public parking. In the meantime, hotel development and expansion has largely met the need for such facilities.
Parking continues to be a major problem in Vail. The number of Frontage Road overflow days has increased, resulting in Frontage Road parking becoming a nearly regular event on peak days. There are, however, no concrete plans to solve this public safety and congestion issue. Theoretically, there are 15-day caps for Frontage Road parking in the winter and summer but they have yet to be enforced, and adding additional town parking is expensive. Recently, the town of Vail looked at adding another level to the Lionshead parking structure, which could yield about 200 more spaces. Adding a fourth floor would require structural upgrades to the existing structure of about a half million dollars. The cost to build the additional deck for the 200 spaces was estimated in 2010 at $19 million; since then, according to town officials, construction costs have increased by 15 percent ($109,250 per space) pushing the project cost to $21.9 million. By comparison, the cost was estimated to be $120,000 per space to build structured parking from the ground up. In May, the Town Council rejected a proposal for a 250-space parking structure to be built on the Municipal Complex site to potentially be shared with the Vail Valley Medical Center.
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