Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mountain town news


Colorado resort base project scrapped

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. -- A proposal for a major real estate development at the base of Sunlight Mountain Resort has been formally withdrawn. There were doubts about the size of the project, making it appear that development approvals might not have been awarded by Garfield County. The development was being reviewed even as the market for mountain-town real estate was crumbling.

The proposal called for 830 housing units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space. A planning commission last winter recommended that the project be denied, and the proponent withdrew the application in April.

"We just felt it wasn't in our best interests to move forward," Tom Jankovsky, the ski area's manager, said in an interview with The Aspen Times. "Definitely, money is part of it."

The development proposal had been triggered by sale of the ski area. The sale of the ski area, however, was contingent upon approval of the real estate development. Jankovsky said the ski area infrastructure badly needs investment—in everything but the snow cats.

Aspen mayoral race sets spending record

ASPEN, Colo.—Business may be down, but spending is up in this spring's mayoral election in Aspen. Incumbent Mick Ireland has raised $17,875, but his challenger, Marilyn Marks, raised nearly $40,000. The previous record of $30,000 was set two years ago, notes The Aspen Times.

Jack Kemp loved Vail, and vice versa

VAIL, Colo. -- Jack Kemp had a strong connection with Vail. Kemp, who died recently at the age of 73, had been a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills before getting elected to Congress for nine terms. During that time, he served with Gerald Ford, who famously vacationed in Vail. In time, Kemp also had a house in Vail.

Kemp made a run for the presidency in 1988, but lost to George H.W. Bush. He did become the vice presidential candidate with Bob Dole in 1996, when the pair lost to Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

Kemp was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the elder Bush. He had a genuine interest in educational advancement, according to reports in The New York Times and other publications. Harry Frampton, chairman of the board of the Vail Valley Foundation (and managing principal of East West Partners), told the Vail Daily that Kemp pushed the board to get more involved in educational programs.

Forest thinning continues around Breckenridge

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—Chain saws will be busy around Breckenridge this summer as efforts continue to thin forests and remove trees killed by bark beetle. The cutting will create 70 areas of open space. Local officials tell the Summit Daily News that they hope to create buffers around homes and businesses in the event of wildfire.

Base village merits debated in Mammoth

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- Ever since Pete Seibert Sr. returned from the Alps in the 1950s and then issued his vision in Vail Village, somewhat similar villages have been showing up, reaching crescendo levels in the last 15 years. One of them is at Mammoth Lakes.

The argument can be made that such villages, when done by large developers such as Intrawest, are an exercise in good planning. But others have seen them as phony. Taking the latter view is Steve Klassen, a legendary snowboarder and owner of Wave Rave, a snowboard, clothing and accessories company.

"The word 'village' conjures up images of heritage and community," Klassen told Mammoth's The Sheet. "Unfortunately, I don't think it stands for those things. I view it as a developer's appetite for greed.

"I do feel sorry for the tenants of the (Mammoth) Village. When Intrawest first rolled into town with all this money, it seemed like a good thing. You would walk into that sales office and it looked legit. However, I saw right through it. Do you know that their (Intrawest's parent company Fortress Investments) stock was down 96 percent for the year not too long ago? It's really too bad. The whole thing was a case of slick marketing, and unfortunately the bottom fell out."

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