BRECKENRIDGE - The Breckenridge Town Council gave the nod Tuesday to a development agreement that will allow Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV) to construct a new timeshare resort at the Bergenhof site at the base of Peak 8.
"I think there's widespread support on our council," Mayor John Warner said. "It's helpful to our community from an economic standpoint."
The measure passed on a 5-0 vote. Councilman Mark Burke was absent and Councilman Mike Dudick, who is also a principal with BGV, recused himself from the vote.
The five-story building will house 80 units along with amenities including an aquatics area, spa and multiple movie theaters. It will also include tributes to the now-defunct Bergie day lodge, which was set to be demolished before the development was approved.
BGV executives say the new resort will create and preserve jobs and boost the local economy, both through tax revenue and by bringing more visitors to Breckenridge year round.
But some council members were hung up on the potential impacts of continued development on Peak 8 to Cucumber Gulch, the ecologically critical wetlands complex located just below the base area.
Recent studies indicate too much sediment is flowing downstream into the gulch.
A $25,000 contribution from BGV as part of the development agreement, as well as significant investments from both the town and Breckenridge Ski Resort, will pay for an initial fix to the problem.
Council members asked the resort to be prepared to continue to work on finding a solution if the current plan doesn't work.
The development agreement specifically allows BGV to begin infrastructure improvements and tearing down the Bergenhof in advance of receiving a building permit.
The development still must pass town planning requirements.
The agreement also provides additional development rights to both BGV and the ski resort to be used for skier services and decreases the number of required parking spaces per unit based on the results of a parking study, according to a town memo.
The project is on a strict timeline. With final approval from planning, developers hope to start utility work and the Bergie's demolition next summer. Full-scale building will follow, possibly starting as early as March of 2014, with the first phase of timeshares available by December of 2015.
As part of their continuing business plan, BGV executives say they need the construction of the new development to coincide with the projected sell-out of their existing resort, the Grand Lodge on Peak 7.
"It's kind of a machine," BGV co-owner Mike Millisor said. "On some Tuesday we'll close the Grand Lodge sales center and we'll bring in the signs and the model for the Peak 8 project. We might take a day off and then on Thursday we'll have our clients come in to tour that."
Community reactions to the development have been mixed, with some welcoming the additional lodging.
"Breckenridge Grand Vacations is an amazing company," Sara Nelson Gambino, of Breckenridge, stated in an online comment on the Summit Daily's Facebook page. "They give thousands back to the community, create jobs and happen to be great employers. Not to mention, more rooms (equals) more people to visit."
Still, others condemned the growth of development in Breckenridge.
"The base of Peak 8 has changed so much since I started skiing there," Breckenridge resident Jenney Coberly commented. "I liked it much better without all the development. Just another featureless resort full of high rises now."
Many online respondents to the news mourned the loss of the Bergenhof, a Breckenridge Ski Resort mainstay for decades.