A closer look at the Lionshead proposals

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Edward Stoner
December 2, 2006

VAIL - There are similarities: civic centers, more public parking spaces and road improvements. They both have condos, hotels, timeshares and stores.

But there are differences: one has more expensive hotel rooms. One's civic center seems to be more focused on conferences. One has a few more public parking spaces.

Vail hasn't decided if it will redevelop the Lionshead parking structure. But it now has two developers, each with half-million-dollar proposals, waiting for a decision.

The town has made it clear that it may decide to choose neither of the proposals. And some say it's too early to pick sides because negotiations are continuing. But Vail is getting further along a tentative timeline for the process. In December, the Vail Town Council is aiming to decide if it has enough information to make a decision.

Two developers, East West Partners of Avon and Open Hospitality Partners/Hillwood Capital of Dallas, are vying to win the right to rebuild the garage.


East West is proposing a Hyatt On hotel, a new brand that Hyatt is marketing as "fresh, energetic and beyond contemporary." Other Hyatt Ons are slated to open in New York, London and Shanghai.

"The brand is targeted towards younger, highly educated people that have incomes of $150,000 or more," said Chuck Madison, senior partner for East West Partners. The average daily rate would be around $275 a night, Madison said.


Special to the Daily Open/Hillwood plans 60,000 square feet of stores in its redevelopment plan for the Lionshead parking structure.

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East West touts Hyatt's ability to book conferences, citing its large sales staff across the U.S.

Open/Hillwood is proposing five-star St. Regis Hotel and a four-star W Hotel on the site, with projected average daily rates of $423 and $383, respectively.

The St. Regis is a luxury hotel chain with hotels in New York, Aspen, San Francisco and Rome.

The W Hotel targets 25- to 49-year-olds with "creative sensibility." There are 19 W Hotels, in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Mark Masinter of Open/Hillwood also touted the convention business of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which owns both chains.

"They have huge group business," he said. "They're the best at group business."

Hotels, condos, timeshares

East West is proposing 150 Hyatt On hotel rooms, 75 two- and three-bedroom timeshares, and 120 two-, three- and four-bedroom condos. Including lockoffs, East West says the project will have about 450 rentable rooms, Madison said.


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"All of condos within the hotel have lockoff bedrooms that are designed just like hotel rooms," Madison said.

Open/Hillwood's St. Regis will have 120 hotel rooms, plus 50 condos branded as St. Regis hotel rooms. It will also have 25 timeshares. The St. Regis will also have meeting spaces of over 6,000 square feet, a restaurant and a spa.

The W Hotel would have 120 hotels rooms, plus another 50 condos marketed as W hotel rooms. It would have meeting spaces of 6,000 square feet, a restaurant and a "Bliss Spa."

The condos could be rented when not being used, Masinter said.

Civic center

The East West civic center would have a 25,300-square-foot ballroom, triple the size of the Vail Marriott's ballroom. East West says it would be available to the Vail lodging community 50 percent of the time and operated by Hyatt.

It could be used for concerts, high-school graduations and speaker events. But its primary purpose would be to attract conferences, Madison said.

Open/Hillwood is proposing a "multi-functional civic center" that could host concerts, conventions or other events. It could hold 610 seated attendees for a concert or 1,000 standing people for a concert. The area could also accommodate conferences with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom.


Special to the Daily The Open/Hillwood proposal includes a pedestrian street.

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"We can attract every kind of conference that Vail wanted for its conference center, but it can also convert itself into a performing arts center," Masinter said.


The current Lionshead parking structure has 1,150 public parking spaces.

East West has three options for parking. One option would have 1,500 public parking spaces - including parking for the civic center and stores - and 312 private spaces. East West says it would replace the 1,150 spaces by December.

Two other options would reduce the meeting space by 20 percent and 25 percent, adding public parking instead.

East West would keep at least 400 spaces open during construction.

Open/Hillwood is proposing 1,410 public parking spaces - including parking for stores and the civic center - plus 467 private spaces. The developer would replace the 1,150 current spaces by Dec. 1, and keep at least 400 spaces open through construction.

Open/Hillwood once considered adding more parking and digging down three levels, but their current plan would only go two levels underground.


Special to the Daily East West Partners is proposing a four-star Hyatt On hotel. It also want to build 75 timeshares and 120 condos.

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Road improvements

East West Partners says it would do public road improvements totaling $6.2 million, including two roundabouts

Open/Hillwood says it would build one or two new roundabout and do Frontage Road improvements totaling $20.5 million.


East West is proposing 30,000 square feet of retail space. It would be 70 percent local merchants and 30 percent national chains.

Open/Hillwood proposes 60,000 square feet of retail in two levels. It would be about 50 percent local and 50 percent national chains.


Special to the Daily Open/Hillwood wants to build a five-star St. Regis Hotel and a four-star W Hotel on the site. It is also proposing 100 condos and 25 timeshares.

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Bus hub

Open/Hillwood proposes a bus hub that would be underneath the hotels. It would have space for five waiting buses.

"The dropoff spot is right by the pedestrian street," Masinter said.

East West proposes an above-ground bus hub that could be a station for 5-6 buses at once. Madison said the open-air environment is an advantage for their proposal.

"We are in Colorado with 300 days of sunshine," Madison said. "That's probably not a big reason to bring people underground."

Other stuff

East West is also proposing a 21,000-square-foot wellness center that could serve as a rec center for Vail residents, Madison said. The Avon developer is also proposing a 3,000-square-foot nonprofit center.

"We just know there are so many - close to 100 - nonprofit agencies in the valley, but so many of them don't have an office to work out of," Madison said.

East West is also proposing a youth/family recreation center of 2,500 square feet.

Both developers propose to replace the Lionshead information center.


Both projects would start tearing down the current structure in 2009 and be totally done with the project in 2012.

Open/Hillwood wants to begin with building their roundabout and frontage road improvements in summer 2008. It would start building parking in the spring of 2009. It would start on the W hotels and condos in spring of 2010. It would start on the St. Regis Hotel in 2011. It would be done in 2012.

East West plans prep work in 2008, starting parking in 2009, starting the hotel building in 2010. It plans to complete the project in 2012

Why I'm better

Open/Hillwood says its plan is better because it has more true hotel rooms - not condos that are rented.

"Hotel beds and lockoffs aren't occupied at the same rate," Masinter said.

Open/Hillwood also promotes the "varied scale" of its storefronts.

"It's a real retail street," Masinter said.

And the fact that Open/Hillwood already has $200 million of its own money committed to the project is an advantage, Masinter said.

The multi-use civic center could accommodate all of Vail's conference needs and host concerts, too, Masinter said.

East West says that it has more "hot" beds than its competitor when you factor in lockoff rentals.

"I think the town is very committed to making sure there are significant number of hot beds in the project to help the vitality of Lionshead and the rest of Vail," Madison said.

East West says its open-air bus hub will be better, and Open/Hillwood's enclosed bus hub would be dirty.

The conference-focused civic center would bring first-time visitors to Vail who would stay in hotels all over town, eat at restaurants and spend money at other businesses, Madison said.

"We believe it's a huge advantage to the rest of the businesses in Vail," Madison said.


East West says its project will cost about $545 million. It would probably use tax increment financing as well as metro district bonds, Madison said.

Open/Hillwood says its project will cost a little over $600 million. It would also probably use TIF funds as well as metro district bonds, Masinter said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO