Wake up, face reality

As owners of some of the real estate in the Snowmass Village Mall, we are appalled at the Town Council’s refusal to face reality when it comes to the economics of the proposed base village. The Town Council’s blind faith in unrealistic skier visit projections is frighteningly naïve.

One need only to look at last Monday’s Denver Post story on Copper Mountain to get a clear picture of both the Intrawest philosophy of “build it and they will come” and the reality of skier projections. According to the Post, in the seven years since Intrawest purchased Copper Mountain, the compounded annual growth rate is below 1.1 percent, with three of those being down years. The Snowmass Town Council has agreed that Snowmass needs a 3.7 percent annual growth rate for base village to be successful. Compounded over 10 years, that’s 43 percent!

What leads the council to believe that such unrealistic growth can happen in Snowmass, when it hasn’t happened at Copper Mountain, which is a direct parallel to Snowmass Village? There, Intrawest invested $500 million, and so far, it’s not working. Five years into the development of the Village at Copper and they are still tweaking their strategy. Copper already has 177,267 square feet of commercial space. That compares to 92,000 in the mall at Snowmass. And Copper isn’t successful with 177,000, so they’re asking for more.

More attainable visitor projections for Snowmass are contained in the economic study we commissioned for the town. Unfortunately, the Town Council has not publicly acknowledged or discussed this report. And yet, they saw fit to support the current height and density of the proposed base village without the slightest consideration for the unrealistic nature of their visitor growth projections or the project’s affect on traffic, which we believe may be its biggest flaw.

Such action slaps democracy in the face. It is disrespectful to the citizens of the great resort community and it ignores vitally important information yet to be presented on the impacts of their decisions. In a democracy, we trust our elected officials to follow a process, to listen to the public and ultimately to render decisions based on the input they’ve received. But that process was grossly violated when Town Council blatantly ignored the land-use process and unilaterally pronounced its support of the density and height of the current base village proposal.

The applicant’s economic projections are a pipe dream based on wildly optimistic projections for skier and visitor growth and unrealistic assumptions for a dramatic change in guest spending patterns.

Let’s work toward a base village development on a much smaller scale that will be beneficial for everyone. The Town Council needs to wake up and face reality before it’s too late.

Jeffrey Server

Perry J. Snyderman

Shell Properties Corp. and

Snowmass Village Limited Partnership