Breck council OKs vesting for Peak 7, 8 development |

Breck council OKs vesting for Peak 7, 8 development

BRECKENRIDGE – Vail Resorts will have 20 years to build its new village at the bases of Peaks 7 and 8 under the terms of a letter Breckenridge Town Council members approved on first reading Tuesday night.

The agreement allows the company to build its project over a 20-year period and keep the design guidelines and density throughout those years, even though town guidelines might change in the future. Normally, a developer is required to complete a project within three years.

“This large of a development needs an extended period of time,” Town Manager Tim Gagen said. “The biggest concern is that they make progress toward the key public improvements, the gondola and the ski-back.”

The development will comprise 501 units of density, including single-family homes, skier services, lodges, inns and commercial space.

As part of a development agreement forged last May between the town and Vail Resorts, the ski area will eliminate some density on its in-town parcels (at the Watson and Sawmill parking lots), contribute $200,000 toward daycare, provide 2,500 skier parking spaces, build a gondola from the Watson Lot to the Peaks 7 and 8 base areas and build a ski trail from the mountain into town.

Town officials consider the gondola and ski-back public amenities because studies show they will alleviate traffic on Ski Hill Road. The town also will contribute $6 million to the cost of the gondola with funds derived through real estate transfer and property taxes.

If Vail Resorts fails to build the ski-back by Dec. 15, 2008, and the gondola by the time the 300th unit is built, the ski company will lose its vesting rights.

Town council members need to approve the letter and development agreement before the end of the month to meet a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) funding deadline for a transit center at the Watson parking lot.

To meet the deadline, the town and ski resort forged a temporary lease for the land. CDOT, which will provide funding for a transit center, would prefer the land on which such a facility is built to be owned by a public entity. The ski area can’t transfer the land to the town until the town council approves the master plan and vesting agreement.

The planning commission is scheduled to review the master plan next week and forward it to the town council for approval. At that point, construction will begin on a paved bus pull-in and pull-out, which should take about 60 days.

Then, depending on how much money CDOT has for the 2003-04 fiscal year, which begins July 1, construction could begin on the proposed building.

There is a chance, however, that construction will be delayed until next year because of cuts in the state budget. Town officials will meet with CDOT representatives in June to discuss next year’s budget and outline construction priorities.

Even if construction is delayed, the town will be ready to begin construction on the building early next year, as construction drawings are scheduled to be submitted this week and the bid process will begin before the month is over.

Once the council approves the vesting and development agreements – presumably at its May 28 meeting – the only elements left to OK are the master plan and annexation agreement. Ski resort officials also are developing a complex financing plan that involves issuing millions of dollars in bonds and creating a metro district.

Another part of the development agreement requires the ski area to build the gondola once the town’s building department issues the certificate of occupancy for the 300th unit of development (SFE). An SFE is defined as a single-family home of unlimited density, 1,200 square feet of commercial space or a 1,600-square-foot townhome.

Council members tossed out a variety of hypothetical situations that could result in the gondola not being built. Some of those included the ski company – or some future owner – walking away from the project before the 300th SFE is built, or if a private lot owner would be precluded from building a home because the town or the ski area weren’t ready to build the gondola.

Ski area officials said they will have invested too much to walk away from the project and that much of the SFEs built would be in non-money-

making commercial and skier service buildings.

“We’ll be so front-loaded with infrastructure costs – roads, the bridge, sewer, skier services, underground parking – we have to build the last units to make a nickel on it,” said Roger McCarthy, Breckenridge Ski Resort’s chief operations officer.

Ski company officials don’t expect to start building infrastructure until early next year.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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