Year in Review: Retail marijuana and new builds bring in business to Summit County
As markets showed strong recovery from the 2008 recession and bookings bounded up across Summit County this year, plenty of new restaurants and businesses opened their doors for the first time. Here’s a look at some stories that dominated the business world in Summit County in 2013.
Breckenridge Resort Chamber Restructure
At the Oct. 8 Breckenridge Town Council work session, Breckenridge Resort Chamber/GoBreck president John McMahon and board of directors president Andru Ziest presented a restructuring idea for their organization. The BRC is in charge of marketing efforts for the town. This plan included the elimination of membership dues, effectively allowing all businesses in town to become part of the BRC. The proposed plan also outlined ways to decrease overlap with other committees, and a new structure for the board of directors. This includes getting rid of BMAC, the town’s marketing advisory committee, and the old BRC board of directors would have to be dissolved.
In November, BRC members voted to move forward with the plan. The amendments reorganize GoBreck — the new official corporate name — from a members-only chamber to an all-inclusive destination marketing organization (DMO). The new board will be appointed jointly by GoBreck and the Breckenridge Town Council. Currently, 70 percent of the organization’s funding comes from the town, and the council directed BRC governance be reorganized in order to continue to receive funding.
The Breckenridge Town Council would choose its own representative and the three additional members. BRC members — who all would effectively now be BOLT holders — would choose the four designated BOLT seats. A ski area representative would fill the last seat.
Earlier this month, during the organizational overhaul, GoBreck president and CEO McMahon announced he is leaving his position after five years in charge. The new GoBreck board of directors will most likely be chosen in February.
Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in November 2012, giving adults over 21 the right to purchase, grow and possess recreational marijuana. This November, voters also approved a 25 percent state tax — 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales tax — on retail marijuana. In addition, Summit County towns have been discussing their own taxes for the new businesses, which can open as early as Jan. 1, 2014.
Summit County was cautious earlier this year, passing temporary bans on issuing permits for recreational marijuana businesses until the state laid out some guidelines. In May, Colorado implemented a series of bills for the legal framework for the recreational consumption and sale of marijuana, prompting local town councils to propose their own regulations and taxes. Frisco, Silverthorne and Breckenridge voters all approved a 5 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales in this November’s election.
Frisco: In August, the council initially proposed an ordinance only allowing up to two marijuana operations in town, whether retail, medical or both. The ordinance set forth by the town of Frisco includes a $3,000 retail marijuana license fee set in place to cover costs of enforcing regulations. The final document removes the clause allowing only two retail establishments, but strict requirements remain in place regarding where the facilities can be located.
Dillon: The Dillon Town Council voted to extend the town’s moratorium on retail marijuana establishments until Oct. 1, 2014. Because Dillon is not drafting regulations and does not currently have a medical marijuana dispensary, the soonest it could begin accepting new business applications would be Oct. 1 of next year. “We’re just in a watch and wait and see kind of pattern,” Joe Wray, Dillon town manager, said. “We’re also discussing whether or not residents believe there is a need for one (a retail marijuana establishment) in every community.”
Silverthorne: Medicinal marijuana sales, which are only subject to Silverthorne’s retail sales taxes, would be exempt from the proposed 5 percent excise tax. Although Amendment 64 allows for up to four types of uses, including retail establishments, standalone grow operations, production facilities and scientific testing facilities, Silverthorne’s marijuana ordinance only permits retail establishments.
Breckenridge: There are currently five medical marijuana licenses issued in the Breckenridge area, and in September, town council mandated there will be no new medical or retail marijuana dispensaries allowed in the downtown overlay district. The one current downtown store, Breckenridge Cannabis Club, will be allowed to operate in its current location until Sept. 1, 2014, when its lease ends. Councilman Mike Dudick said at the vote, “I don’t want it on Main Street. I don’t care if there’s seven or 15 on Airport Road, but there should be nothing else in the downtown district.”
Starting Jan. 1, customers who purchase recreational marijuana in Summit County will not only pay the 25 percent state tax, but a 5 percent local excise tax and whatever other retail sales tax is applicable.
Whole Foods Construction
In May, Frisco’s planning commission signed off on a larger version of the Whole Foods Market development, increasing from the originally proposed 25,000 square feet to 32,000 square feet. Later that month, town council voted to end the lease to Whole Foods Market developers instead selling them town-owned property for $4.5 million in a split vote — roughly $2 million less than market value. No payments are due until June 2024.
By September, construction could be seen near Interstate 70 on the 9.4-acre parcel, which will include five commercial/retail buildings, including Whole Foods, an inline retail building, the gateway building, a wellness building and regional retail building. The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant will also be part of the market.
Reports released by the town of Frisco estimate $1 million in sales tax revenue will be brought in every year from the development of the Whole Foods supermarket and accompanying enterprises. Frisco Councilwoman Kathleen Bartz said, “I think one of the concerns we’ve heard over the years is that now we are going to get people off I-70 — which is something we’ve been trying to for a gazillion years — but we do need to move them up to Main Street and get the mom and pop places frequented.” Whole Foods is estimated to open in June 2014.
Peak 6 opens
The expansion at Breckenridge Ski Resort is the first in more than a decade, opening Christmas Day for the public. The project drew mixed reactions from the community prior to its approval, with some celebrating the idea of new skiable terrain and others fighting against potential harm to the forest and wildlife in the area. In August 2012, after years of environmental studies and community debate, the Forest Service approved the more than 500-acre expansion.
The new mountain features a total of 543 additional acres, including 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain. This provides a 23 percent increase in the resort’s skiable acreage. Peak 6 adds three new bowls, two of which are intermediate terrain, and in addition to above-treeline terrain, Peak 6 will also have 10 new trails. The mountain will be served by two new lifts: one four-person fixed grip providing access from Peak 7 and one six-person, high-speed lift providing access above treeline.
This year, the town of Breckenridge also added more than $500,000 to the marketing budget for 2014 in order to remain competitive with neighboring resort communities.
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