Vail, VR going through ‘difficult period’ | AspenTimes.com

Vail, VR going through ‘difficult period’

Edward Stoner
Eagle County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” One town councilman said last month he was “at a loss” and “disappointed” with Vail Resorts over its $22 million bid for Vail’s largest employee housing complex, suggesting that the town should reject the offer. Councilman Kent Logan later said that the town and the resort company were going through a “difficult period.”

That rejection is now on hold, and Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz will meet with the Town Council Tuesday to go over the offer for Timber Ridge, the 10-acre, town-owned housing complex.

Logan said Monday that Vail Resorts needs to make some significant changes to its plan for Timber Ridge.

“I would be very disappointed if he reiterated what’s already been put in front of us,” Logan said.

Vail Resorts’ looming opening of its massive Arrabelle at Vail Square project depends on the company creating dozens of employee homes in Vail. The company is on the hook to build 144 employee homes because of its big redevelopment projects, primarily the Arrabelle.

While Vail Resorts agreed to those requirements a couple years ago, the town hasn’t accepted any of the company’s affordable housing plans, and the Arrabelle is set to open this winter.

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The Timber Ridge proposal aims to meet those requirements. Otherwise, the company can buy, rent or build employee housing elsewhere. Or it can pay the town $17.3 million to satisfy the requirement.

On Sept. 11, the town rejected three proposals from Vail Resorts to satisfy the requirements. On Sept. 12, the company offered to buy Timber Ridge for $22 million, which equals the amount of debt that the town has on the property.

But another developer ” led in part by Ross Perot Jr., the son of former presidential candidate ” already has a plan to redevelop Timber Ridge as part of its plans for a $620 million redevelopment of the Lionshead parking garage.

Logan said he was disappointed with Vail Resorts’ offer, the lack of detail in the offer, and that the company didn’t talk to the town about the offer before submitting it. He would like to see some for-sale, deed-restricted homes in the plan.

Under its current proposal, Vail Resorts would build anywhere from 1,194 to 1,244 beds of rental housing at Timber Ridge. There are now 600 rental beds there.

Logan also said the town should try to retain ownership of the land.

The relationship between the town and Vail Resorts is less than ideal, Logan said Monday.

“I certainly think it could be better at this point,” said Logan, who will not be at today’s council meeting because he is traveling.

Still, Logan said he was encouraged that Katz ” who works at Vail Resorts’ headquarters in suburban Denver ” was coming to talk to the council.

“We’re both sort of in this together for the long term,” Logan said, comparing the relationship between the town and the company to a marriage that has its ups and downs.

Rod Slifer, mayor of Vail, said Vail and Vail Resorts need to get along.

“I’ve always gotten along with Vail Resorts pretty well, and I think we have to,” Slifer said. “A couple other members of the council seem to not be in love with Vail Resorts. … They are the big economic engine in the town, and I think we’re better off to get along with them. It’s pretty simple.”

Vail Resorts owns and operates Vail and Beaver Creek mountains and is the largest employer in the town ” besides being one of the biggest developers in Vail.

The town needs to pursue Vail Resorts’ Timber Ridge offer, Slifer said, but agreed that the company needs to offer more detail about its plans for the affordable housing complex.

“If Vail Resorts can come up with a good plan, I’ll be a happy camper,” he said.

Katz could not be reached Monday.

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