Vail’s $1 billion renewal has quickly become a $2 billion and increasing renovation — with no end in sight.
Developments including a Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton Residences are under way, and two more large developments — including a W Hotel and a St. Regis — are in negotiations.
Town officials say the construction crane is the new town bird, with eight looming across the landscape.
Resort watchers say the development will help keep the 40-year-old ski town at the top of its game.
Age and the need for new infrastructure have made this the right time to redevelop, said Mayor Rod Sifler.
“It’s very competitive out there,” Sifler said. “Every resort is trying to be a summer resort too. We had to redevelop and grow.”
Vail Resorts Inc.’s three projects — Front Door, the Arrabelle at Vail Square and the proposed Ever Vail — account for a large portion of the development, but other owners are also jumping on the remodeling wagon.
Vail has been named the No. 1 ski resort in North America 14 of the last 19 years, and both developers and officials want to keep it in the top spot.
“There’s no question in our minds that the on-mountain experience at Vail has no comparison, and what we are looking to do is make sure the base area is in the same league,” said Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
Vail’s renewal is projected to create more than 450 new lodging units and more than 100,000 square feet of new shopping and dining space.
Plans call for hotels, condominiums, fractional ownership units, retail space, convention services, restaurants and two ice skating rinks.
All of the development will help keep Vail near the top of ski resort life, said Stan Zemler, town manager.
“It’s a fresh face on an image that is already high-end,” he said. “There has never been as much development or redevelopment going on in Vail’s history.”
Vail Resorts’ Front Door project is a redevelopment of the area surrounding the Vista Bahn lift. It will include coffee shops, sitting areas and 13 chalets, all of which have already sold for $10 million to $15 million each.
The Arrabelle, in the middle of Lionshead, boasts condominiums, residences, retail outlets and restaurants. City officials say the development of the $250 million Arrabelle was the catalyst for the frenzy of activity.
“The quality of the experience that people had on the mountain was not being reflected in the portal,” said Katz. “The Arrabelle was the first step to say we are going to take Lionshead and bring it up to par with the rest of the experience.”
Other developments include the $180 million Solaris, which is replacing the old Crossroads commercial and residential building. It is offering buy-ins at $1.9 million plus $35,000 annual dues for fractional ownership.
Solaris is planning to be the new town square, said Craig Cohn, director of sales, marketing and leasing for Solaris Residences. The project is estimated to be complete for the winter of 2009.
Because development is on-going and some buildings are down because of construction, the town estimates taking a hit of $45,900 in anticipated sales tax this year.
But the town expects the total impact of redevelopment to bring in $5.9 million in additional sales tax revenue in the next five years, said Kelly McDonald, Vail economic development manager.
Katz hopes to help rename Lionshead as Vail Square to create synergy between Vail Village, then Vail Square and extending on the west with Ever Vail.