|A new way to get on the
Vail Resorts plans to redevelop
the west Lionshead area around the base of a proposed new ski
lift. The town of Vail and Vail Resorts are working on a
master plan for the area.
Preston Utley/Vail Daily
December 4, 2005
VAIL - Vail Resorts and the town of Vail are
planning what will be built around the base of a ski lift planned for
west Lionshead, an area poised for significant redevelopment.
"We feel like this is an important new development for Vail," said
Councilman Farrow Hitt, a member of the planning committee.
Vail Resorts has been buying land in the area of the south frontage
and Forest roads, where it wants to build the lift.
Jack Hunn, senior vice president of development of Vail Resorts
Development Company, said the development will probably include
condos, public parking, possibly a bus hub and perhaps retail space.
Hunn said the resort wants some amount of "warm beds" - which means
timeshares or condos that are part of the rental market.
It's doubtful that hotels would be part of the project, Hunn said.
The planning committee is trying to decide whether west Lionshead
should be an entry point to the mountain similar in size to or smaller
than Golden Peak. The area probably wouldn't be able to rival
Lionshead or Vail Village as an entrance to the mountain, Hunn said.
The west Lionshead area could be targeted toward locals and employees
who are going up the mountain, Hunn said. That could mean creating a
financial incentive that would compel merchant-pass holders to park in
west Lionshead and ride the lift.
"This could be by design a more local-oriented portal," Hunn said.
That could free up more space in the Vail Village and Lionshead
parking garages for other skiers, Hunn said.
Hunn said, at the very soonest, the redevelopment would begin in the
summer of 2008.
Buying up land
In June, Vail Resorts announced its plans to build a new high-speed
chairlift so skiers and snowboarders could get on the mountain from
west Lionshead. The lift would connect to the bottom of Chair 26, the
Pride Express Lift, which takes riders to Eagle's Nest.
In August, the company bought the Vail Professional Building and the
Cascade Crossing Shopping Center, a total of 1.8 acres. Vail Resorts
has a contract to purchase the BP station. The contract is set to be
concluded in December. The company already owns the Holy Cross
The gas station site would likely be used for snowcat maintenance that
would take place mostly underground, Hunn said.
The base of the new lift may sit beside a new development built by
Vail Resorts and managed by Ritz-Carlton. The Ritz-Carlton Residences
would include 108 condos of two, three and four bedrooms.
The base of the lift could move farther north if the frontage road is
realigned along the interstate, Hunn said. It may also be at the site
of the current BP station, he said.
The Ritz-Carlton project received unanimous final approval from the
town's Planning and Environmental Commission on Monday. It now must
get approval from the Design Review Board.
Even before the plans for the new lift were announced, Vail Resorts'
nearby Gore Creek Place homes sold in record time, bringing as much as
$1,005 per square foot.
Hunn said Vail Resorts has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the
Glen Lyon office building, and they are currently not in talks with
its owner to buy it.
Give and take
The town and Vail Resorts are working out the details of the
give-and-take that is part of the redevelopment process.
Vail Resorts wants the Forest Service and the town's approval. In
order to get approval from the Forest Service, the lift must have
benefits other than simply increasing real estate prices.
The company also will probably need new zoning for the Cascade
Crossing Shopping Center and Vail Professional Building to redevelop
the area, said Russ Forrest, the town of Vail's community development
As a result, the town could get a parking garage, sales tax from new
shops and a bus hub.
Hitt said he's interested in a "portal" that would attract a lot of
people to help expand the town's retail base and help relieve the
town's parking crunch. The town, he added, wants to keep stores and
offices in the area.
"We're concerned that those don't get torn down and replaced with
second or third homes," he said.
Hunn said Vail Resorts wants to have no net loss of retail space that
exists in the area now.
One idea for the redevelopment of the area is to relocate the frontage
road so it runs alongside the interstate. That would connect the Holy
Cross maintenance site with Lionshead.
Some have suggested Vail Resorts would build a conference center as
part of the West Lionshead development, but Hunn debunked that rumor.
"I would say there's no truth to that," he said.
West Lionshead planning committee
History: Met for the first time in November.
Who's on it: Two Vail town councilmembers, two representatives from
Vail Resorts and two members of the town's Planning and Environmental
Members: Councilman Farrow Hitt; Jack Hunn and Brian McCartney from
Vail Resorts; Doug Cahill and Bill Jewitt from the planning commission
(the commission is seeking a replacement for former councilman Dick
Cleveland, who was not re-elected in November's elections).
Next meeting: 2 p.m. Dec. 15, probably at the Marriott in Lionshead.
Confirm the location with the town of Vail at 479-2100. Public is
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or