Vail awash in ripples of renewal
VAIL You could call it a ripple effect.The Arrabelle at Vail Square hotel and condo project – now under construction – is the epicenter of Lionshead’s renewal. And as the Arrabelle nears completion, the ripples are reaching the other buildings in Lionshead. Many property owners in Lionshead are either rebuilding or talking about rebuilding.From the Lodge at Lionshead (next to the library) to the Lionshead Center (it houses Double Diamond Ski Shop) to the Concert Hall Plaza (Moe’s Barbecue is there), landowners are talking to the town about redevelopment.In the late ’90s, town leaders, who thought Lionshead lacked charm and vibrancy, tried to entice redevelopment by allowing bigger buildings.”It worked,” said Greg Moffet, a Vail councilman who was on the town’s planning board when the rules were passed.Town leaders recognized that the area, largely built in the late ’60s and ’70s, was “unattractive and dated,” Moffet said.”It was clearly not working on so many different levels,” he said.The redevelopment of the Arrabelle has begun the process of creating a more pedestrian-friendly pedestrian village, he added. Kevin Foley, a longtime Lionshead resident and worker, was on the Town Council when it passed the new rules. He’s back on the Town Council now and said he’s concerned about some of the development that’s happening now in Lionshead.”We were hoping that it would spur redevelopment, yes, but the type that we’re seeing, gee, I’m opposed to it,” Foley said.Some developments aren’t providing enough employee housing. Others are developing too close to their neighbors and preventing enough sun from getting into the neighborhood, he said.”Change is good,” he said. “What I’m against is change that doesn’t benefit most of the community.”The biggest project of all in Lionshead may be the redevelopment of the parking garage. A Texas developer is vying to replace the aging garage with more parking, condos, hotels, timeshares, stores and a conference center in a $600 million project. The town may decide in the next few months whether that project will happen.Others on the wait list Other than the parking garage, Lionshead has other major projects that will happen or may happen soon:• The Ritz-Carlton Residences-Vail will be built next to the Vail Marriott. It will have 71 condos, and construction will start this spring, said Vail Community Development Director Russ Forrest.• The owners of the Concert Hall Plaza building are proposing to build “a unique and stylish four-star boutique hotel with a condominium component” along with stores, said Kim Hughes, an owner, in a letter to the town. The developer said he want to keep Moe’s Barbecue, D.J.’s, Ski Valet and Charlie’s T-Shirts in the new building. • The Landmark condo building, which includes Billy’s Island Grill, is planning to remodel its exterior and add a new elevator tower, according to documents submitted to the town. It’s also planning to add some new condos and a new lobby.• T.J. Brink, the developer of the Evergreen Lodge, is planning to tear down the lodge and build 128 hotel rooms and 75 condos.”We’re waiting to see what the town of Vail does on employee housing before we move forward,” he said.• The Vail Valley Medical Center plans to double in size over the next decade. The first phase is a new 50,000-square-foot building that would be on the west end of the campus, beside Dobson Arena, where there’s a parking lot now. That could start within the next two years.• The Lodge at Lionshead, next to the library, is planning to tear down one of its buildings and replace it with a new condo building, Forrest said. For its other two buildings, a major interior and exterior overhaul is planned for this summer, said manager Jeff Bailey.• Representatives from Lionshead Center – which includes the Double Diamond Ski Shop and Garfinkel’s – have said they want to tear down the building and build something new, Forrest said. A representative from the Lionshead Center did not return a phone call.• Lionsquare North is planning a renovation that will add nine condos, retail space and other improvements. But nearby residents have sued over the project, and now it’s in court.• Rodrigo Cortina, whose family owns the Lionshead Inn, which includes the old “Fabulous Vailglo Lodge” property, said they are planning a condo-timeshare-retail project. “We can’t really define what we are doing until we find out what the town of Vail is going to enforce on employee housing,” Cortina said.• The fate of the Vail Resorts’ North Day Lot, next to the Landmark building, is still up the air. Vail Resorts is considering putting employee housing there, with a bus station on the first floor, Forrest said.
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