Vail Resorts has veto power
Town officials say they and Vail Resorts have similar goals for
If the Town Council decides to
approve this development proposal for the Lionshead parking
structure, Vail Resorts would have to give its OK for it to
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
February 28, 2007
VAIL — Even as the town of Vail spends thousands
of dollars and holds public forums to decide whether to rebuild the
town-owned Lionshead parking garage, final approval doesn’t rest in
the town’s hands.
Vail Resorts has the power to veto a proposal to replace the garage
with condos, hotels, a convention center, stores, restaurants and even
The ski company donated the land to the town a few decades ago, and
the company retains the right to approve anything that’s not parking
or a conference center.
Council members, meanwhile, are supposed to make a decision on the
$600 million project next month.
So would Vail Resorts gives its stamp of approval to the project?
Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz and Vail Resorts
Development Company President Keith Fernandez met with the Town
Council on the subject in December behind closed doors.
Fernandez did not return a phone call this week. A request for an
interview with Katz was met with an e-mailed statement from a
spokeswoman from the company’s mountain division.
“Vail Resorts is watching the process with interest and we recognize
that with the covenant on the Lionshead parking structure, any changes
require our approval,” said Jen Brown, the spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
“We will wait until the process has been completed before making a
Size: 6.3 acres.
Who owns it: The town of Vail.
What’s there now: 1,150-space parking garage, built in 1981.
What’s proposed: More public parking, a five-star St. Regis
Hotel, a four-star W Hotel, condos, a conference center,
stores, restaurants, a bus station.
But what is the company watching for? Enough
parking? Construction impacts? How do its not-yet-approved plans for a
parking garage, a new chairlift and new condos in West Lionshead
relate to its approval of a the Lionshead garage?
Brown said she had no further comment. Bill
Jensen, co-president of the mountain division, did not immediately
return a phone call.
Stan Zemler, Vail’s town manager, said the town has stayed in good
communications with Vail Resorts on the subject of the Lionshead
“We’ve been looking toward them as a collaborator,” Zemler said.
The town of Vail and Vail Resorts have common goals that renovating
the garage would achieve, including more hotel rooms and money for
road improvements, Zemler said.
“That’s good for the town, and that’s good for the mountain,” he said,
adding feedback from Vail Resorts on the project has been “very
One of Vail Resorts’ main concerns is ensuring there’s enough parking
while the garage is rebuilt. “Their concern, primarily, is that we
don’t ultimately disrupt in an extraordinarily negative way our
ability to be a wintertime resort,” Zemler said.
That includes having backup plans in case anything goes wrong, Zemler
The garage Vail Resorts’ wants to build in West Lionshead, which would
have about 400 public parking spaces, could help ensure there’s enough
parking, Zemler said.
Whether it could get built before the Lionshead is renovated remains
Vail Resorts is also planning a new lift, condos and stores in West
Vail Resorts’ covenants for the Lionshead garage don’t give them a
free pass in West Lionshead, Zemler said.
“I don’t believe we’re going to turn our heads the other way,” Zemler
Goals aligned, councilmen say
Councilman Greg Moffet said he won’t vote to
renovate the Lionshead garage unless the town’s getting a good deal
from everyone, including Vail Resorts.
stock on the rise
Vail Resorts, based in the Denver-Boulder area, is a public
company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It owns Vail,
Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly at Lake
Tahoe. It also develops real estate and owns and operates
hotels. Vail Resorts’ development arm is a large local
developer that is building several big projects in Vail.
Its stock price hit an all-time high last Wednesday after an
analyst upgraded his outlook for the company, based in part of
his optimism about the company’s luxury real estate
Although Vail Resorts might have the final say on the
Lionshead garage redevelopment, it did not step forward as a
candidate to redevelop the garage when the town solicited
developers last spring.
all got things we want in this process, and that’s why it’s in
negotiation, and everyone is negotiating in good faith,” he said.
Last month, Moffet questioned whether Vail Resorts, as a publicly
traded company, had the long-term interests of the town in mind. This
week, Moffet said the company is taking steps to restore the level of
trust he has in them.
“I think we’re all aiming toward interest alignment,” he said.
The West Lionshead garage has to be open before the Lionshead garage
is redeveloped, Moffet said.
Mark Gordon, another Vail councilman, said the town and the ski
company’s goals are similar. The garages are two separate projects, he
“Should (residents) be worried that Vail Resorts is holding the town
hostage?” he said. “No.”
The town could condemn the Lionsead garage to remove the protective
covenants, but Gordon said that’s not likely.
“I don’t think it’s going to come to anything close to that,” Gordon
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or