Vail without a video store | AspenTimes.com

Vail without a video store

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Rae Madison was sad to see Blockbuster Video leave the West Lionshead shopping mall where she owns a flower shop.

“The traffic will be completely different,” Madison said, owner of Hothouse Flowers of Vail, adding that Blockbuster brought people past her small store “all day, every day.”

The closing of Blockbuster is a taste of the change that is looming for the West Lionshead neighborhood, where Vail Resorts plans a $1 billion ski village called Ever Vail.

Blockbuster Video, Vail’s last full-fledged video store, left town Nov. 27. The store’s sign has been pried off the facade, and workers are renovating the inside.

“The landlord had some specific plans for that space, and I think that really factored into not being able to continue in that location,” said Randy Hargrove, spokesman for Blockbuster.

The landlord is Vail Resorts, and the video store space will become a “sales center” for the Ritz-Carlton Residences, an ultra-luxe development that’s being built across the street where condos are selling for up to $11 million.

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However, Vail Resorts spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga said Blockbuster could have stayed in that space, but the company failed to notify VR in time that it wanted to extend its lease.

Other business owners in West Lionshead say they aren’t sure how long they’ll be able to stick around.

“You don’t get any updates (from Vail Resorts),” Madison said. “We’re just waiting to see what happens.”

Jean Corcoran, who works in the dental office of her husband, Dr. Paul Corcoran, in West Lionshead’s Vail Professional Building, said they haven’t had any direct communication with Vail Resorts about how long they can stay.

“We kind of go by the spring of ’09, which we had read in the Vail Daily,” she said.

Jason Katzman, general manager of Plum TV, which also has offices in the Vail Professional Building, said Plum is in talks to move to other office space in Vail.

“I am not 100 percent sure” how long Plum can stay in their current space, he said.

Ladyga said the company met with tenants last March to discuss the Ever Vail project. The company can’t predict when the businesses have to leave because Ever Vail is subject to an uncertain timeline in getting the necessary approvals, she said.

The earliest Ever Vail construction could start is summer of 2009, Ladyga said. The company is renewing leases in West Lionshead on a month-to-month basis, she said.

Vail Resorts might want to put more “sales centers” in the existing buildings in West Lionshead, she said.

Despite the uncertain future of current businesses, Vail Resorts has pledged to build a significant amount of stores and offices in the new Ever Vail project.

The project is slated to include 100,000-150,000 square feet of stores, and the company has vowed to replace the office space that’s currently in West Lionshead.

The planned Ever Vail is billed as the largest green resort in North America. It is supposed to center around a new gondola and include condos, fractionals, a hotel, employee housing and a public parking garage.

Madison, whose flower shop has bounced from the now-demolished Crossroads to the soon-to-be-demolished Cascade Crossing shopping mall, said she’s optimistic she’ll find a new store space somewhere in Vail.

“We’re flexible,” she said.

Councilman Mark Gordon said he’s dismayed any time a store in Vail closes, including Blockbuster.

“Luckily we have an amazing library with a great video collection,” Gordon said.