Vail Daily letter: Timber Ridge revisited

Clearly, the Vail council and town stakeholders are disappointed that the clean contract to redo half of Timber Ridge has stalled, even though the apartments have been vacated and there is great anticipation for the new facility.

The developers are now asking for two new features — an option to buy our land and going out 50 years rather than 35 years before we get the buildings back — both involving unpredictable outcomes.

First, selling our land — if we allow our land to be sold, you can be sure the other half of Timber Ridge will also be developed in the future using land sales as part of the contract. Think about two adjoining properties with likely two different landlords getting involved with disputes such as a common entrance or noise — and the town not being able to do anything about it! Further, the flood gates will open once our land is for sale with developers and their great ideas. Just consider the three standalone conference centers, the integrated St. Regis/W hotel complex with conference facilities and adding retail space abutted to the south side of the village parking structure!

Second, extending the lease from 35 to 50 years — 35 years is just about the maximum housing can survive without major renovations. If things go out to 50 years, what’s to prevent the operators of just doing Band-Aid maintenance in the last years of the contract as they look at the whole thing as great cash cow — in spite of some words and music in the contract to prevent this?

Third, the effect of a double whammy. Consider Vail getting the buildings back in 50 years, but does not own the land under — how the heck will this work out? But, of course, this scenario won’t happen until future councils and generations are in place.

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Finally, what to negotiate if selling the land and extending the term are off the table? One word — money. Putting some money in the project up front may be necessary. Where does the money come from? Postponing some of the nice-to-have projects, issuing bonds as we are debt free and even a ballot proposal for a short term tax increase — all for the most noble of all projects, workforce housing.

In summary, this is a big deal and sometimes the decision makers could use additional perspective, given their focused involvement over a long period. Hence, let the council know your ideas via email (, letters in the Daily or attending/speaking at the Aug. 19 council meeting. Our form of government depends on this process.

Paul Rondeau

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