Will housing stall opening of Vail project?
November 29, 2007
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Resorts still doesn’t have a plan to create the scores of beds of employee housing that it promised when the Arrabelle at Vail Square was approved in 2004.
Without that plan, the $250 million Arrabelle ” billed as the anchor of Lionshead’s renewal ” isn’t allowed to open. Its stores, such as Burton, Quiksilver and Patagonia, are supposed to open in the next three weeks.
Closed-door negotiations continue between the town of Vail and Vail Resorts over the company’s housing obligations.
“They’ve put forward a series of concepts,” Town Manager Stan Zemler said, declining to release them.
Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland said he’s confident the town and the company will come to a solution that will hold VR to the 120 beds it owes in association with the Arrabelle.
“We’ve been going back and forth,” Cleveland said.
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The town has said VR has the option to pay $17.3 million to satisfy its obligations.
However, it seems that Vail Resorts may believe its Arrabelle housing requirements have been met, at least for now, with the apartments it leases at Timber Ridge.
“That is their reading of the agreement,” Cleveland said. “We have a different interpretation than they do.”
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz declined to comment on the company’s interpretation of the agreement. Katz said Vail Resorts’ goals are aligned with the goals of the town when it comes to creating more worker housing.
“I have every confidence that this is going to be resolved without delaying anything (at the Arrabelle),” Katz said.
In addition to being one of the largest developers in town, Vail Resorts operates Vail and Beaver Creek mountains and is the largest employer in the county.
Meanwhile, Mark Masinter, the Texas developer who wants to redevelop Timber Ridge, said Wednesday he is in talks with Vail Resorts for the company to buy and lease units at when the complex is renovated.
“We’re talking to each other to get a deal done,” said Masinter, who wants to redevelop Timber Ridge in conjunction with his plan to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure.
Masinter plans 1,248 beds of employee housing in apartments at Timber Ridge, with no for-sale housing.
Earlier this year, Vail Resorts also offered to rebuild Timber Ridge. At VR’s last opportunity to present its plan, at a council meeting on Nov. 6, the item was swiftly tabled, leaving Katz muzzled at the podium.
After the meeting, Katz said it seemed to him that the town wanted to move in a different direction than Vail Resorts’ Timber Ridge proposal.
Over the last few weeks, the town has discussed Vail Resorts’ obligations in closed-door “executive sessions,” both with and without the company.
State law allows executive sessions ” or closed-door meetings ” “to determine positions on matters that may be subject to negotiations, to develop strategy and instruct negotiations.”
The Town Council may discuss the latest proposal from Vail Resorts at its Tuesday meeting, both behind closed doors and before the public, Zemler said.