Making significant changes is supposed to be difficult in Vail’s “Special Development Districts.” The owners of the city’s Four Seasons Resort and Residences find out.
The hotel owners have proposed an amendment to the property’s city approval that would allow for the removal of 16 dormitory-style employee housing units and the replacement of those units with up to 13 new hotel rooms.
Owner representatives say these beds are “underutilized,” saying few employees want to live in small shared rooms without individual kitchens. The owners have made a handful of proposals to replace these beds, first proposing to restrict a number of units west of Dowd Junction.
City council members balked at the idea of replacing even the underutilized employee beds in the city resort and insisted on replacing as many rooms as possible within the city limits.
The latest proposal from the hotel owners includes the acquisition of housing in town, as well as the prime rental and deed of restriction of the seven apartments located on the third floor of the Vail Daily building in EagleVail.
The proposal also includes keeping 12 dormitories on-site and banning conversion of the other 16 until off-site act restrictions are in place.
Four Seasons owner partner Andrew Selinau recently told Vail City Council that converting hotel rooms to condos could result in $10 million in new real estate sales, which would be subject to the property use tax. city building materials and real estate transfer tax.
Selinau added that the new hotel rooms could bring in $1.7 million in new room revenue, as well as new dining and spa revenue.
But everyone recognized that acquiring these units in town will be difficult at best.
“We will struggle” to find these units, Selinau said.
At the July 19 council meeting, council member Pete Seibert noted that special development districts — areas allowed to exceed existing zoning boundaries — are meant to have public benefits. In the case of the Four Seasons, that perk was on-site accommodation, Seibert said, adding that he wanted to “do the right thing” with that 2003 endorsement.
Vail resident and former council member Jenn Bruno told council members she was at first “a little skeptical” about the proposal. But, she added, the units in question are not being used.
“It’s important to work with the private sector,” Bruno said, encouraging the council to look for solutions that work for both the company and the city.
During the discussion period, Council member Travis Coggin proposed adding an additional $1.04 million to Four Seasons’ contribution to the housing fund. Coggin also proposed that the city use that money within a specific time frame “to hold us accountable.”
With this addition, the council unanimously passed the first reading of the ordinance.