Breck ski officials begin making plans for work at Peaks 7 and 8 |

Breck ski officials begin making plans for work at Peaks 7 and 8

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – The first new building at the base of Peak 8 could be up by December 2005 – a long time in the minds of skiers eager to see new base amenities. But it represents a long road ahead for Vail Resorts planners, designers and builders.

Ski resort officials want to upgrade the base area infrastructure on Peaks 7 and 8, which now is comprised of an outdated lodge, a cramped administrative building and a skier services facility that Breckenridge Ski Resort Chief Operations Officer Roger McCarthy describes as only for the “brave and desensitized”.

“You’ve heard me talk about the 70 steps at 10,000 feet,” McCarthy said, referring to the stairs from the ticket windows to the ski slopes at Peak 8. “You’re looking for your Sherpa on the second landing. We need to set Breckenridge up to go forward.”

Vail Resorts officials would like to build a grand lodge, restaurant and retail space, condominiums, homes and a gondola to access the base area from town. They want “hot beds,” described as lodging that is occupied more often than not. They need more density at the base to provide skier services.

But funding will be key.

“That’s how we get into real estate,” McCarthy said. “Condominiums will pay for new skier services.”

But funding for the proposed gondola – which could be erected in 2006 at the earliest – is another matter.

Under an agreement forged last month by McCarthy and Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula, town and ski area officials will work together to fund construction of the gondola, estimated to cost $16 million.

Town officials are exploring various methods of funding. Some include implementing a tax on new development on the ski area lands or diverting accommodation or Real Estate Transfer Tax revenue garnered from the Peak 7 and 8 developments.

Finances are part of a six-pronged approach the town and ski area agreed upon to help the ski resort forge ahead with its plans. McCarthy and Mamula late last month hammered out a one-page agreement outlining what the ski company and town are both willing to offer – and give up – to get construction under way at the bases of Peaks 7 and 8. Thursday, they sat down again to explain more details to Breckenridge Resort Chamber members.

For town officials, some aspects of the proposed development were almost non-negotiable.

They didn’t want the ski area to reduce the number of parking spaces on Watson and Sawmill parking lots along North Park Avenue, Mamula said. Nor did they want development at the base areas to divide the community. Town officials also are unwilling to take on more debt.

“This goes back to who we are,” Mamula said. “We don’t want to be some contrived village. This is a community of local people that has invested a lot of its treasure in open space. As they develop these projects, we want them to do it knowing we’re an environmentally sensitive community.”

Ski area developers now are in the planning stages, devising ways density can fit on the parcels at the bases of Peak 7 and 8 and on Watson and Sawmill parking lots in town.

“Breckenridge is a success story,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the industry that doesn’t envy us for where we’ve been and where we’re going. But we need to set Breckenridge up to go forward.”

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

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