Green light for Peak 7 and 8 master plan changes
December 7, 2005
BRECKENRIDGE – The schedule for a new base area development at Peak 7 stayed right on track as planning commissioners unanimously approved a master plan amendment and density transfer for the project last week.The thumbs-up means construction of roads, bridges and utility installations at Peak 7 is set to begin in May, barring any unforeseen snags, said Alex Iskenderian, vice president of Vail Resorts Development Company (VRDC).”It’s a three-step approval process for us,” Iskenderian said, explaining that VRDC will seek the go-ahead for site-specific infrastructure plans in early January. “We’ll see how that goes. We’re hoping we can get it approved in one meeting,” Iskenderian said. The company intends to subsequently submit site plans for specific buildings at Peak 7, he said.The planning commission approval was for the overall Peak 7 and Peak 8 master plan, including a density transfer of 48 units from the Mountain Thunder complex along Park Avenue. The initial focus will be on the Peak 7 area, with construction of residential condo-hotel units and some skier service facilities expected in the next couple of years. Overall, the entire Peak 7 and Peak 8 development has been described as a phased eight- to 10-year project.Developers addressed several concerns raised by the planning commission at a Nov. 15 meeting by repositioning buildings to open wider view corridors at Peak 8, where redevelopment plans call for construction of a “grand lodge,” along with a gondola terminal and other residential and commercial facilities. “We did try to look at both sides of the grand lodge and open up view corridors,” said Randy May, director of development for VRDC. “We also removed the large building associated with the gondola terminal. That really opens up that area,” May added.Language concerning the stepping down of buildings at the edges of the development was also revised. Planning commissioners wanted to ensure an aesthetic transition from the high-density center of the development to adjacent forest lands.May said he wanted to make clear that some of the buildings at the edges could still include five-story elements, but that those outlying structures would have less mass overall than the buildings at the center.Parking and locker room issuesCommissioner Ken Boos also raised a question about parking at Peak 7, trying to find out whether day-skier parking spaces could disappear completely during the construction phase. “Could we end up without parking and without a gondola?” Boos asked.Attorney Steve West, representing VRDC, said parking spaces are addressed in a separate agreement, requiring that, at least theoretically, 200 spaces of day-skier parking must be available at Peak 7 throughout the construction process.Finally, Breckenridge chief operating officer Roger McCarthy briefly spoke about how best to address the need for some temporary operations buildings, including facilities like employee locker rooms and ticket offices, during the development of Peak 7 and the redevelopment of Peak 8.”Since 2000, we’ve really boosted capacity at the ski area,” McCarthy said, listing the addition of new lifts. “We’ve got this expanding employee base. We’re really bursting at the seams,” he said. “We’ve got to find some transitional component to get us through the squeeze.”Resort officials had previously raised the question of building some temporary buildings, a concept that was coolly received by the planning commission. McCarthy said the resort would revisit the issue and come back to the commission with some sort of plan to address those needs, potentially requiring a change to town codes to allow for transitional structures.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or email@example.com.