Breckenridge ready to ‘finish Peak 8’ with luxury hotel, condos
The developers seeking to build a branded, luxury hotel and 50 wholly owned condos at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge have secured the development agreement they need after more than eight months of negotiations.
The proposed project was framed as Breckenridge’s best chance to “finish Peak 8 the right way,” though many of the details in the development agreement that passed Tuesday night didn’t change too much from the draft that failed last February.
The developers made a handful of key concessions between then and now. With that, what began as a highly contentious issue breezed through Breckenridge Town Council on second reading with a 7-0 vote.
The proposal first surfaced in public last November when the development team comprised of the local company Breckenridge Grand Vacations and the Miami-based real estate investment firm Lionheart Capital announced they would seek an unprecedented increase in the allowable density through a development agreement with the town.
The land is in a prime position at the base of Peak 8 with a resort administration building currently residing on site. The owner of Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts, also owns the property off Skill Hill Road, adjacent to One Ski Hill Pace. Under an agreement with the developers, the resort will sell them the land so they could build the hotel and condos, and a subsidiary of Vail Resorts will manage hotel operations once it’s been built.
While the property at the base of Peak 8 comes with enough density to accommodate a 150-key luxury hotel, the developers were looking to exceed that with the addition of 110,000 square feet of wholly owned condominiums which they have said are a necessary component to making the deal work.
Originally, the developers were looking to buy the additional density from a program that preserves backcountry space by stripping backcountry land of its development rights and allowing those rights to be moved elsewhere in town where elected officials feel upzoning might be more appropriate.
Density was the single biggest hang up and the developers addressed that issue by working out a deal with Vail Resorts, at council’s request, to have the additional density for the condos come off the resort-owned parking lots in town. The effect was no net gain in the allowable development in town.
Other pot-sweeteners also helped push passage of the development agreement that Breckenridge’s elected officials said they couldn’t support only months earlier.
Councilwoman Erin Gigliello had told the development team she would like “a home run.” She got it with the developers inking a side deal, giving Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, the nonprofit group that helps individuals with disabilities enjoy outdoor activities., 1,500 square feet of locker-room and storage facilities at the base of Peak 8.
The creation of a new environmental improvement fund to help protect Cucumber Gulch — supported by a $2 fee attached to hotel room rentals for 20 years — was another nice perk for the town that came out of the developers’ second run at the agreement. In recent discussions, council asked the developers to increase the sunset clause, which was originally 10 years, but wasn’t a problem and the development team essentially told the council to name the number.
The new fund comes on top of a $125,000 gift, also for the preservation of Cucumber Gulch, that the developers had included in the initial proposal.
Other guarantees included limiting the height of the proposed development below what the developers could have likely gotten approved through town code and abandoning the use of Saw Mill Run Road.
Securing Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe’s support was key, too. Getting it meant satisfying three specific stipulations she put forth — including that the project must come with new workforce housing units, the agreement contain controls to limit its impacts on Ski Hill Road and that the whole project be thoroughly vetted in the community.
Before voting to support the project, she said all of those boxes had been checked.
April saw the election and appointment of two new councilmen, Gary Gallagher and Dick Carleton, though Gallagher has served on council before.
Still, both men came into office publically opposing the project at Peak 8, either through statements made at council meetings or via letters to council. However, they later reversed their position after meeting with the development team and attending community forums for the project.
Complicating matters for the developer’s first run at the development agreement was then-Councilman Mike Dudick’s position as the CEO and co-owner of BGV.
With his company spearheading the project, Dudick had to recuse himself from council discussions involving the Peak 8 project — and any related matters — often sitting in a hallway outside council chambers, gagged and unable to contribute as his colleagues picked at the project.
In April, however, Dudick resigned from his position on council, citing perceived conflicts of interest regarding the project on Peak 8 and BGV’s plans to get into workforce housing, which often involves negotiations with the town. Dudick’s resignation also allowed him to come back into the conversation as a developer and as a private citizen.
On Wednesday, Dudick said he believed his resignation helped move the development agreement along after it failed the first time, but he said he didn’t want to go too deep into specifics.
“I think me resigning was the right choice for the company and for the community,” he said, adding that he believes he can still accomplish many of the same things he set out to do when he ran for town council working “from the sidelines.”
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