BRECKENRIDGE - Eighteen months after Breckenridge officials shut down a proposal for a high-end hotel on the central F Lot property, the town is preparing to explore the feasibility of such a project.
Breckenridge is poised to contract with a private real estate firm and an appraisal company to investigate whether a luxury, branded hotel is financially realistic for the F Lot property.
The F Lot is currently a town-owned, paid parking lot, but Breckenridge leaders have for several years characterized the space as a last gem of undeveloped space in downtown Breck.
The private consultants are charged with exploring the viability of a variety of development options, or no development at all on the property. They told members of the council a hotel would need to generate at least a 17 percent return on investment to be considered feasible.
A number of developers expressed interest in putting a hotel on the lot in the fall of 2011.
"The council really felt that they were pretty much at a disadvantage not understanding when those proposals came in if that made good business sense," Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. "What they're looking to this consultant to do is really to look at is it feasible to even consider that piece of property to become a hotel."
The consultants will also investigate concerns among members of the lodging community that in a small market like Breckenridge a new high-end hotel might cannibalize existing two- and three-star short-term rental properties.
Town leaders emphasized the importance of the consultants' study of the F Lot be fair, unbiased and open to the possibility that a hotel might not work at the location.
"I want to make sure that our community can feel safe that this was truly an independent consulting job," Councilman Mark Burke said. "Our objective was to see if there's a need for a higher-end hotel."
An East Coast developer initially brought forward an unsolicited proposal for an F Lot hotel in 2011 and asked the town to support the project by providing the property for free.
Members of the lodging community came out in strong opposition to the hotel, saying many smaller companies already have a hard time filling all their rooms and that plans for additional developments at the gondola lots and on peaks 7 and 8 were poised to expand the lodging market enough over the next few years.
The town solicited additional hotel proposals, but later shut down the idea altogether.
In connection with the future of the F Lot, town officials are also considering redesigning the adjacent Riverwalk area, the nearby arts district and placing a park or open space on the next door Tiger Dredge Lot.
Members of the council have said that any parking lost as a result of the development of the F or Tiger Dredge lots will be replaced.