Vail picks spot for company housing
VAIL – The town of Vail says it wants Vail Resorts to build housing for 120 workers at a parking lot in Lionshead.According to the town, Vail Resorts must have a housing plan before it can open the Arrabelle at Vail Square – the $250 million, slopeside condo-hotel-retail complex billed as the centerpiece of Lionshead’s renewal.The stores, which include Burton, Quiksilver, Patagonia and Vail Sports, are supposed to open in the next three weeks.The town wants the housing built on the so-called “North Day Lot,” which is owned by Vail Resorts, near the Landmark Condominiums.”Having the employees where the work is, that’s a good call,” said Councilman Farrow Hitt, adding he would have preferred Vail Resorts to have partnered to redevelop Timber Ridge, the town-owned, 10-acre housing complex.”Timber Ridge just didn’t work out,” Hitt said.Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said Monday he was encouraged by the town choosing the North Day Lot.”I think it’s good that we’ve got clarity,” Katz said. “The fact is we want to build more employee housing, and the town wants to build more employee housing. Everybody wants to see the Arrabelle open, and I have no reason to believe that’s not going to happen.”Still, Vail Resorts disputes the contention that it needs a plan before the Arrabelle can open.”As you are aware, we do not believe there is any requirement that our company must have an ‘approved plan’ for employee housing or post a letter of credit or bond to be granted a temporary certificate of occupancy for the Arrabelle project,” Katz wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to the town.On Monday, Katz declined to elaborate on why Vail Resorts thinks the Arrabelle doesn’t need a housing plan before it can open.But the company is still committed to eventually fulfilling its housing obligations, Katz said in the letter, adding that there had been “many miscommunications and misunderstandings between us.”It’s been a challenge to sort out the housing requirements, said Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler. Katz agreed, citing the ongoing, intersecting negotiations over Timber Ridge and the Lionshead Parking Structure.”It’s been hard for all parties to come together and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.'”Vail Resorts, a Broomfield-based company that’s traded on the New York Stock Exchange, operates Vail and Beaver Creek mountains and is also one of the biggest local developers.The company plans a “mixed use” project on the North Day Lot, but Katz said the other uses haven’t been determined yet.Under the town’s timeline, construction of the North Day Lot project would begin by May 1, 2009.Vail Resorts must also post a $17.3 million letter of credit under the town’s plan. The town could cash that to buy employee housing if VR doesn’t meet its obligations.
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