Keystone’s turn: Mountain House development plans announced | SummitDaily.com

Keystone’s turn: Mountain House development plans announced

BOB BERWYN
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Building heights, employee housing and parking were listed as key issues during a recent review of a Vail Resorts proposal to redevelop the Mountain House base area at Keystone.

Similar proposals by Copper Mountain and Vail Resorts have met similar questions from the Board of County Commissioners, who recently gave its first look at the Keystone’s proposal to amend development plans for the Mountain House.

Commissioner Thomas Davidson, who previously worked for Vail Resorts at Keystone, said the neighborhood needs updating, but still has questions about the plan. Davidson said the upcoming discussions should give the county and the resort a chance to work on critical countywide issues like employee housing.

The Keystone Citizens League, representing property owners at the resort, is in full support of the plan, said president and director Amir Pambechy.

“We told them, go ahead and do your work, but no undue delays,” Pambechy said, referring to a letter sent to the Commissioners. “We don’t want them (Vail Resorts) to get out of the mood. We like the new management, the folks that are on the firing line. … We’re extremely fortunate that Vail Resorts is willing to invest millions in Keystone.”

Pambechy said current market conditions spurred Vail Resorts to begin the redevelopment process. With the supply down and prices climbing, the time was right to look at adding nearly 600 new units at the Mountain House base, he said.

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For now, Keystone remains a relative bargain in the hot resort real estate market, with per-square-foot prices in the $600 to $700 range, compared to about $1,500 per square foot in Vail or Beaver Creek, Pambechy said.

“I feel that this is the future of Keystone. Keystone has been stagnant … If you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards,” Pambechy said, explaining that the Mountain House neighborhood was piece-mealed together without a master plan.

Vail Resorts vice president Alex Iskenderian said prices in the Keystone area are rising, and that the number of units for sale at the resort has decreased dramatically in the past few years. Gaining approval for the latest development plans would leave Vail Resorts poised to build and sell when the timing is right.

The Vail Resorts plan also garnered approval from long-time Keystone resident and citizens league board member Bob Craig.

“I think their approach has been pretty thoughtful. Our impression is they’re going to do the right thing in terms of parking and employee housing,” Craig said. Keystone has done more to address employee housing needs than any other resort in Colorado, Craig added.

The Snake River Planning Commission reviewed the plan late last year, also identifying parking and housing as the main areas of concern.

Summit County planning director Jim Curnutte explained that Vail Resorts is not looking to add any new density to the Mountain House base. The proposal to amend the PUD will be much more detailed in describing exactly how the re-development will proceed, Curnutte said.

“If you look at the current PUD (planned unit development), it has some antiquated maps with bubbles (showing potential development areas). The new plan would show exactly where new development would go,” Curnutte added.

The proposal also includes plans to enhance wetlands at the resort and improve sections of streams, including the Snake River and Go Devil Creek, Curnutte said.

The existing development plan includes language that would allow Keystone to bring in about 300 units of density through the transfer of development rights ” which would require the resort to find valuable backcountry properties still privately held to buy and trade for the additional density.

The amendment would eliminate that language, Curnutte said, explaining that any proposed future transfers would be enabled under a countywide TDR program.

– Total improvement covers 88.4 acres.

– 48.4 acres slated for redevelopment.

– 40 acres to be used for open space, wetlands, interpretive facilities, public transit and recreational trails.

– Existing cafeteria, ski school, ticket offices would be demolished and redeveloped

– Another work session is scheduled for April 1, primarily to discuss employee housing. The resort company hopes to submit a formal application as early as March.

– Planning documents and maps related to the redevelopment plan are online at http://www.co.summit.co.us/planning under “Current Projects.”