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Aron speaks

EDITORIAL

Adam Aron came to town this week to spread a little love around Breckenridge. And he brought some early Hanukkah and Christmas presents for the Breckenridge Ski Resort, even if the big one – the gondola – is years off.Addressing the town council, Aron revealed that his company is looking seriously at razing its less-than-eye-pleasing Village at Breckenridge Hotel, a fact that could be the key to opening up the dark canyon at the Village at Breckenridge.The plan also could lead to sorting out the parking, pedestrian and skier drop-off mess at South Park and Main.Aron said the Peak 8 Summit Lift is all but certain for next summer, pending all-but-certain approval by Vail Resorts board at its capital allocation meeting in February.And while that takes away 500 acres of cherished hike-to terrain, Aron promised to find more somewhere on the mountain, even if it’s Peak 6.Did he say Peak 6? Yup, that’s now in the ski resort’s boundary, if outside the current permit area.Aron confirmed Peak 6, worth about 500 acres of new terrain, is in the resort’s future, potentially on the same track as development at Peaks 7 and 8, especially if it would help peddle real estate.Already, we can hear the grumbling of the backcountry crowd that considers Peak 6 precious terrain.Still, to get the gondola, Aron has to sell real estate, as he so well made clear.He said the gondola is estimated to cost $14 million or more for the hardware and $6 million or more to put amenities at either end of it.The town is willing to pump $5.3 million into the gondola deal. Aron said that’s nice and he’ll take it, but it’s still not enough to get the gondola ahead of real estate sales.The only guarantee for the gondola is that it would be in operation by the time Vail Resorts wins its 300th certificate of occupancy for new Peak 7 and 8 units.So what about Peak 7 and 8 development? Aron said the development was conceived in the go-go 1990s and delayed in the slow-slow 2000s. A soft real estate market calmed Vail Resorts’ ardor for the project, but Aron said it could be rekindled if the second phase of the Mountain Thunder Lodge is a sales hit.The 34 units go up for presale in December. Price points haven’t been made public, but Vail Resorts designed the second phase for the higher-end market where owners are less likely to put units in the rental pool.So, outside the Summit Lift, Aron’s gifts bear caveats, but with clear trigger points. Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake praised Aron for his willingness to speak in public about future plans of a publicly-traded company. We would agree. Blake, who’s heard his share of corporate honchos speak, said Aron’s candor was like none other that he’s heard.Aron put on a good show, living up to his reputation as an extemporaneous speaker.


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