Vail construction drops off in ’08 |

Vail construction drops off in ’08

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. ” Vailo’s construction boom is over for now, according to numbers from the town.

The total cost of Vail construction projects in 2008 totaled more than $308 million, a 38 percent decrease from 2007. The decline means building permit fees collected by the town also dropped significantly.

Last year marked the first time in five years that Vail’s construction valuations have decreased.

Vail Community Development Director George Ruther attributed the slowdown in building partly to the economic downturn and partly to the fact that many of Vail’s major redevelopment projects have finished.

A string of projects over the past few years, including the Vail Plaza Hotel, Arrabelle, Manor Vail, the Four Seasons Resort, the Ritz Carlton Club and Solaris, had driven Vail’s building boom and brought significant funds to the town.

Vail’s record construction year was 2007, when projects valued a total of $496 million, and the town collected about $5.6 million from construction fees.

All other indicators of building activity, including the number of development applications, money collected from building-permit fees, and the number of inspections for completed buildings, were all down for 2008.

“Construction-related activity has definitely slowed down,” Ruther said. “There’s a significant reduction of new planning applications coming through the door.”

Of the project applications that did come through in 2008, fewer were for major projects and new residences. More applications were for smaller remodels and repairs, such as removal of trees killed by pine beetles.

Vail expects the slowdown to continue into 2009, Ruther said.

With fewer projects coming through, the Community Development Department will focus on projects that have been pushed back for the past five or six years, including creating a green building code for the town, updating the town’s building regulations to match international standards and making improvements to the town’s employee housing stock.

Not that the building will completely stop.

Vail Resort’s Ever Vail, a $1.5 billion ski village planned for West Lionshead, has just begun going through the town’s approval process.

Vail Town Council members said they will budget according to the expected decrease in revenues, and asked town staffers to figure out just how much of a decrease that might be.

Raising permit fees might be one way to make up that budget shortfall, council members said.

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