Around the Mountains: Hotel opens, part of Avon redevelopment
AVON By several very different measures, the opening of a new $500 million hotel in Avon last week at the base of Beaver Creek was a big deal.The Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa is physically big and tall, with 210 rooms that range in size from studios to three-bedroom condominiums.It is also being branded as green. The developer, East West Partners, has applied to be certified under the lowest of four levels in the LEED (for Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) program. If so certified, it will be the first hotel in Colorado to get a LEED designation.Not least, the hotel directly links Avon via a new gondola to the ski slopes of Beaver Creek. With that link, Avon now claims itself as beachfront property, which boosters and planners think will add punch to redevelopment efforts in the town.The green measures at the Westin are sometimes obvious, as in the VIP parking spaces for hybrid vehicles. There will be recycling stations for guests on every floor. Less obvious is that more than half of construction waste was recycled or salvaged. Helping add points to the LEED designation are transportation connections that reduce the need for cars. Adjacent to the hotel is a new bus hub for Avon.One of Vails greatest strengths is its bus system, and now Avons getting there, Harry Frampton, the managing director of East West Partners, told the Vail Daily News.As well, the hotel is along currently unused railroad tracks that transportation planners hope will be used for passenger traffic by 2030.Avon was incorporated in 1979, or 13 years after Vail. It struggled at the outset. A massive condominium project was stalled by the real-estate bust from the mid-1980s well into the 1990s. Development was heavily car-centric. Instead, the sheen of resort development leapfrogged to Edwards, which became the center of activity for the emerging community of well-heeled locals but also second-home owners.Avon, though, intends to stay in the game with a major redevelopment that will create a pedestrian-friendly collection of businesses called Main Street in an area adjacent to the new Westin and other tall lodging properties.Steamboat gets 8 percent more airline passenger seatsSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS Steamboat has been expanding its flight program rapidly in recent years. Last winter, however, there were too many empty seats on incoming planes. In response, ski area and other officials decided to scale back by 7 percent.But instead, Steamboat will have an 8 percent increase in passenger seats this winter, owing to the advent of new Frontier Airlines shuttles from Denver with its new fleet of Lynx Aviation Q400 turboprops. Scheduled are 24,000 round-trip seats, reports The Steamboat Pilot & Today. What happened?Steamboat Springs is expanding its bed base, but that expansion wont come on line for several years. The worry, says Andy Wirth, chief marketing officer for Intrawest, the ski-area operator, is that expanded airline capacity will exceed the bed base this year. Later, when the new lodges are open for business, the air carriers may not all be around.Denver to talk Olympics with VancouveritesVANCOUVER, B.C. A delegation of 165 people from Colorado including Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper was scheduled to visit Vancouver, B.C., this week to talk about renewable energy and other topics, but especially the Olympics.Vancouver and Whistler are hosting the 2010 Olympics, and it will then be at Sochi, Russia, in 2014. But some in Denver have been talking about a bid for 2018. John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee, said he would tell Coloradans that issues of logistics and financing should not take a back seat in Olympic planning.You want the Olympics to contribute to the city, but where it really contributes is to the human capital and as a nation builder, Furlong told The Denver Post. It has to be an event for everybody. You need to build unity around that vision and really make it shine out.Denver had won the right to host the 1976 Olympics, but Colorado voters in 1972 refused to continue subsidies, because of both rapid development then occurring but also because of fiscal mismanagement of the Olympic organizing committee.We wont run from 1976 its part of our history but were much different now than we were in 76, and the Olympic movement is much different now, said Rob Cohen, executive chairman of the Metro Denver Sports Commission.Dick Lamm, who later became Colorado governor and led the fight against the Olympics, says he is keeping an open mind about a new bid. The Vancouver committee projects a budget of $1.6 billion, not counting such infrastructure improvements as the $600 million expansion of the Sea to Sky Highway that links Vancouver with Whistler.Cohen told the newspaper he hopes the Olympics, if they come to Colorado, might stimulate public financing for improvements of Interstate 70. However, he doesnt believe that absence of improvements on the congested highway between Denver and mountain resorts will preclude the Olympics.Aspen runway extension gets OK of commissionersASPEN In the mid-1990s, the Aspen Skiing Co. and others wanted to extend the runway at the Pitkin County Airport by 1,000 feet. Hunter S. Thompson, the writer, was still very much in his prime then, and he led an effort to defeat the idea.But the idea is back, and this time the Pitkin County commissioners unanimously support the runway lengthening. The first step is preparation of an environmental assessment as prescribed by federal law when federal funds are involved. The federal government would pay 95 percent of the bill, which would cost upwards of $20 million.The major argument for the extension, reports The Aspen Times, is that the longer runway will allow jets to fly in and out with more passengers. Currently, the CRJ700 aircraft must leave 11 seats empty when departing Aspen for Denver on those days when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Flights to Chicago must leave five seats empty during winter and seven in summer.County Commissioner Rachel Richards said the idea of fewer but fuller airplanes appeals to her.Airport staff and consultants say that the runway will not allow larger aircraft to use the airport because of restrictions on aircraft wingspans and weight.
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