Summit County's longest running car dealership, Hudson Auto Source, will close shop at the end of the week as a developer chases plans to turn the downtown property into a new "loft-style" neighborhood for Silverthorne.
According to a Wednesday news release, Resort Concepts is in the early stages of planning a 152-unit residential neighborhood called "Park Lofts" at the Hudson site, 441 Blue River Parkway. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed.
The dealership rests on a highly desirable, important piece of land in the heart of town, surrounded by other high-dollar projects, such as the Fourth Street Crossing, tied to the town's efforts to dramatically remake the area and give Silverthorne a "Main Street" feel.
The dealership, which has been winding down its inventory, was recently put under contract by the Colorado investment group managed by Steve McKeever, who lives in Edwards. Lynne McMahon, owner of the Hudson dealership, confirmed Friday will be her dealership's last day.
"The Hudson dealership has been an important part of the Silverthorne community for decades, and I've spoken with Lynne to offer the town's thanks for the role that she and her family have played in helping Silverthorne to fund our services over the years," said Ryan Hyland, Silverthorne's town manager. "It's always hard to see a long-standing business close, but with change comes new opportunity, and we certainly look forward to working with any new owners regarding future development plans."
The Hudson dealership has existed in Colorado's High Country, selling Chevrolets, for over 44 years.
In 1974, its namesake, James R. Hudson, better known locally as Jim, bought a car lot in Lake County with his wife Lorraine. In 1979, they moved the operation to Summit County, giving the county its first car dealership and becoming one of the first major businesses in Silverthorne, which had been founded only a dozen years prior.
In many ways, the Hudson dealership arrived at an opportune time, when there wasn't much else here and before the construction of Interstate 70 and completion of its Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel changed everything. Throughout the decades, the Hudsons and his dealership played important roles in Silverthorne and the larger Summit County community. As a result, Jim, who died March 24, 2017, shortly after his 92nd birthday, has been credited for helping grow the town into what it's become today.
McMahon, Jim's daughter, took over management of the dealership in 2005, the same year Hudson Auto Source added Buick, GMC and Cadillac to its lineup. Assuming control of the dealership, McMahon became the youngest woman in Colorado to head a General Motors dealership.
For McMahon, selling the business her parents started and later passed down to her was a hard decision, and she fought back tears as she talked about it Wednesday after news of the sale broke.
Perhaps it wasn't all that hard of a decision given the circumstances she faced.
McMahon's husband, Tim, is a captain with the Arvada Fire Protection District, and with young children, the couple felt like the dealership was a major barrier to them spending time together as a family. Given the long commutes, demands of running a dealership and her husband's responsibilities as a high-ranking firefighter, something had to give, McMahon said, and she didn't want it to be her family.
"Although it saddens us to close the doors on the buildings that provided so much, it will now provide us time, something we haven't had much of in the past," she said. "For that, we will be eternally grateful. Given Dad's passing last year, we are only reminded how little time we all have and how we want to spend that time together, especially with our little ones at home. They grow too fast."
It was an unfortunate but necessary step to close the longtime dealership before closing on the sale, McMahon said, because Resort Concepts is expected to start discussing the Park Lofts project in front of Silverthorne Community Development and town council as early as next month.
"It would be impossible to run a business while your land is being discussed in public meetings as being redeveloped in the near future," she explained. "This would have caused more stress in the long run for both employees and consumers not knowing what the future of the business would be."
As for the employees, McMahon said the dealership has 28 of them, and she doesn't think they will have problems finding work in Summit County's tight labor market. "Luckily, there are several positions available at the other dealerships, auto collision centers and service facilities," she said, adding that the crew at Hudson has become highly desirable and there's already been attempts to hire her staff out from under her.
McMahon also takes comfort knowing that, before her father's death, the family had already started discussions about the future of the dealership, knowing that it would continue without a Hudson at the helm.
McMahon said the family, including her mother, hoped to keep the business going as a dealership, just under a new owner, but after meeting with several dealers across the state, they were unable to find anyone interested in taking over the business. Summit County's limited workforce, the high cost of housing and other considerations just made it too much of a burden for an established dealer to buy the dealership, she explained.
But that doesn't mean she won't miss it dearly.
"The dealership has been a huge part of our foundation," she said, adding that through the business, she and her family have been blessed with the ability to serve the community, both financially and with their time, while making many great friendships.
"It was the core of our thrill helping the next customer find their dream vehicle, helping them restore their vehicle to a much newer look, as well as providing mechanical service to ensure their safety and give them the ability to add one more mile to the odometer," she said.
Concerned people might be getting the wrong idea, Breckenridge Music Festival has shortened its handle to "Breckenridge Music," a move that's designed to better reflect all the local nonprofit does and has to offer.
For decades, the Breckenridge Music Festival has been bringing live orchestra performances to Summit County, along with cross-genre events, concerts featuring national touring acts and a wealth of educational programming.
None of that is expected to change with the new name, but by dropping the word "Festival," the hope is people will better understand the nonprofit produces a wide variety of programing that extends throughout the year and is not just another music festival, explained Karlie McLaughlin, Breckenridge Music's marketing and development manager.
"We're creating clarity," she said in a statement. "Breckenridge Music Festival connotes a two- to three-day event, and we're trying to cut down on some of that confusion and illustrate the breadth of our year-round programming."
Locally, the organization is encouraging people to take the name down to just "Breck Music," which falls in line with what some other local groups, such as Breck Sports or Breck Create, have done in their branding efforts, said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, executive director, as she recently filled Breckenridge Town Council in about the change.
Explaining the decision to keep it simple, Park suggested they didn't want to add any words out of fear it might dilute the strong branding and name recognition the Breckenridge Music Festival has built up since 1981. Plus, she added, while the group is moving away from word festival in its name, they're not abandoning it.
Every summer, the nonprofit's signature festival runs from about mid-July to mid-August and brings in a 45-piece resident orchestra of professional musicians to make it all happen. Going forward, the popular summertime orchestra series will keep the name, "Breckenridge Music Festival," as the nonprofit seeks to maintain the strong branding it's established over the last 37 years, Park said.
At the same time, Breckenridge Music is splintering off other important segments of its mission with new names, too, especially as the nonprofit works to diversify its lineup with a robust balance of non-classical concerts in addition to the more traditional classical performances.
Formerly known as the Blue River Series, the nonprofit's multi-genre, year-round performances featuring a diversity of acts — including everyone from national touring groups to up-and-coming regional talent — will be now known as "Breckenridge Music Presents."
Another important piece of the nonprofit's work is its music education and youth programming, which will operate under the new name, "Breckenridge Music Education," a nod to the nonprofit's programing in area schools, as well as its collaborations with local organizations.
According to Park, using the new name will allow Breckenridge Music to better highlight these educational programs, which already reach roughly 4,000 students in Summit, Park and Lake counties annually.
Beyond that, Breckenridge Music Applause will be used to refer to the volunteer-run committee charged with putting on social functions and raising money for the nonprofit's special events.
"When people are considering Breckenridge as a place to visit and spend their time, we want them to know that there's a true arts culture and community here," said Jesse Keaveny, Breckenridge Ski Resort director of marketing and one of the people who helped guide the nonprofit's rebranding efforts since joining its 16-member board in January.
"It helps distinguish us from other mountain towns," he added.
The organization's website will change to BreckenridgeMusic.org in late June. For more, people can still go to the current website, BreckenridgeMusicFestival.com, or follow Breckenridge Music on social media.
Here is a rundown of events in Summit County this Memorial Day weekend:
• The Frisco Bay Marina will be opening on Saturday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit TownOfFrisco.com/play/frisco-bay-marina
• Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will feature the band White Water Ramble in its "Shakin' at the Basin" summert concert series from 1–4 p.m. at Mountain Goat Plaza. The event is free. For more information, visit ArapahoeBasin.com/event/shakin-at-the-basin-may26/
• Arapahoe Basin will be hosting the 17th Annual Festival of the Brewpubs. Sample beer from breweries around Summit County, along with food and live music. Cost is $30. For more information, visit ArapahoeBasin.com/event/festival-of-the-brewpubs/
• Lakeside Bowl will host a weekly Retro Dance Party every Sunday starting this weekend at 135 Main St. in Dillon. For more information, call Lakeside Bowl at 970-468-6257.
Monday (Memorial Day)
• The town of Dillon will be holding a Memorial Day ceremony to pay tribute to fallen soldiers from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m at Dillon Cemetary. The event will feature music from the Summit Concert Band, and an open microphone opportunity for members of the public to offer their remembrances.
• The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance will be holding a Memorial Day ceremony from 10–11 a.m. at Valley Brook Cemetery, 900 Airport Road. This is a free event and will include light refreshments, an interdenominational service, placement of a wreath and the playing of Taps.
Ironman, known for its triathlons, is making a big push into mountain biking and wants Breckenridge to be a part of it.
For the past six months, Ironman has been working hand-in-hand with Mike McCormack, the founder of the annual Breck Epic six-day mountain bike race, to take over the race and make it an annual Ironman mountain biking qualifying event.
It'd be an event that would qualify elite international racers for the annual South African Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race. This comes two years after Ironman — also known as the World Triathlon Corporation — purchased the Cape Epic, which has been referred to as "the Tour de France of mountain biking."
"What the town of Breckenridge offers," Ironman U.S. Midwest regional director Frank Lowery told the town council on Tuesday, "along with the destination and what Mike has created in regards to the trail maintenance and what it adds to us long term in terms of what we are trying to create in the mountain biking world, it just seemed like a great fit."
"They were looking for the property to represent their brand in North America," McCormack added. "And there are a couple of races that qualify for inspection, and I think our's sort of distinguished itself as 'the fun guys.' And fun is a big part of the experience."
Ironman's conceptual version of the event — also pitched to the town as the "Breck Epic" — would be one of several "best-in-class" mountain bike stage races globally that would qualify for the March Cape Epic.
In their pitch to the town, Ironman compared their vision of the Absa Cape Epic as the mountain biking equivalent to the annual Ironman triathlon world championships in Kona, Hawaii.
"It's the premier mountain biking event that every mountain biker wants to get to," Lowery told the council.
Beyond that, Ironman is selling the town on being "the premier week-long race" in North America along with "counterpart" Cape Epic-qualifying races in Asia, Africa, Western Europe, Latin America and the Oceania region. Lowery added that Ironman likely would keep the Breck Epic at its August timeframe. He also said Ironman is planning several three-day races across the country to act as qualifying feeder-races to the Breck Epic. And he said Ironman currently isn't considering any other locations for its Breck Epic-level race.
McCormack added that he saw the Breck Epic's progression from "indy-mountain bike" race to Ironman partnership as an ideal opportunity for what he and other locals built over the past decade.
"We've been walking around with our fist raised in the air for 10 years, and that's been a big part of our brand," McCormack told the council. "We've done some good work. We produced an event that we are proud of and try to do things the right way, and it stood for the entirety of its existence as one of the very, very good things in cycling. Of which, some of those things are finite."
Ironman's Breck Epic stage race would remain a six-day race, one where both solo riders and teams of two cyclists could enter.
"Which would model what our Cape Epic does at this point," Lowery told the council of the dual-cyclist team concept.
Ironman also noted that a Breck Epic kids mountain bike race each year would be a part of any deal between the town and Ironman.
In its slideshow pitch that was brought up at Tuesday evening's Breckenridge Town Council meeting, Ironman denoted a three-to-five year contract for the Breck Epic. Financial details were not disclosed, though Ironman says the host community's contribution would include an annual cash component with a 3 percent annual inflation escalator.
Lowery also disclosed that the daily distances for each stage of the Breck Epic would cover 40 to 70 miles. The average speed of winning professional teams would be approximately 13.6 to 15 miles per hour, while the average daily duration for a "mid-pack rider" would be four to seven hours on course.
Ironman's Breck Epic route would also be demanding but achievable for ambitious endurance athletes. There also would be no gravel-road riding or technically treacherous terrain.
Lowery outlined that routes would use forestry roads, rugged dual-track and flowing singletrack terrain. Ironman and the town would also need to ensure the route had the proper land-access permissions granted for competitive mass-participation events. He did, however, emphasize Ironman's commitment to Leave No Trace principles.
"It's an important piece already in what we do in triathlons in running, going into these towns, the concept is: 'You know when Ironman was in town,'" Lowery said, "'but you can't tell when we left,' because you can't tell when we were there."
Race participants and their accompanying visitors would also use Breckenridge as the host community for seven nights of accomodations, a welcome function, finishers banquet and vending and expo opportunities — including, potentially, an event beer garden.
For the first year of the Breck Epic, the race would target 500 total riders, with 800 by the third year before capping out at 1,000 to 1,500 athletes in subsequent yers. McCormack told the council at Tuesday's meeting the current Breck Epic sees just under 600 riders and 2,000 total visitors in town.
In terms of requirements from the town, Ironman highlighted Breckenridge as an "iconic" travel destination "with breathtaking scenery," as well as it's proximity to Denver International Airport and to mountain biking and endurance sport communities.
Ironman also noted to the town that a necessary start, finish and entertainment area would need to be on the course route and easily accessible by foot. A downtown Main Street start and finish for all six days was emphasized.
The town would also need to provide areas for an athlete registration venue, secure overnight bike-parking, a media center, a medical facility, an operation team office and equipment storage.
Ironman also outlined the following services the town would need to provide: police service and public works; town and municipal services and infrastructure; permitting and resident community notifications; waste management; an event volunteer director and 1,000-plus volunteers during race week; an Ironman VIP location; and 125 lodging room nights for media and event organizers.
Ironman also relayed that its Ironman Foundation would provide financial contributions to local nonprofits for volunteering. And it said it'd produce live-streaming video from remote mountainous route locations daily.
As a Summit County connection to the globally recognized event that goes through Wednesday, the Breckenridge Tourism Office stands as one of 20 sponsors for the 50th International Pow Wow, and the Destination Marketing Organization for Breckenridge has positioned the town in front of 6,000 travel industry professionals and media from 70 countries, according to the BTO.
Officials from BTO also will sit with Colorado Tourism Office at the tradeshow with travel buyers and tour operators from around the world, sponsor entertainment at Mile High Stadium and host a post-IPW trip with key international tour operators and media to experience Breckenridge firsthand.
"This is one of the most important international tourism events for the U.S.," said Lucy Kay, president of the BTO, in a prepared statement. "Breckenridge will be very well positioned in the eyes of IPW travel influencers. The benefits to Colorado will be long term and long lasting."
Historically, the IPW has generated over 700,000 new international visitors and $28 billion in new tourism revenue within three years after coming to a city, according to a news release.
The BTO is also sponsoring Les Luminoles, one of the artists participating in Breckenridge's upcoming WAVE festival May 31-June 3, to perform at IPW's Colorado Craft Night at Mile High Stadium. With that, Breckenridge will be displayed on the stadium scoreboard before each performance, according to the BTO.
After the tradeshow closes, 20 international tour operators and media from eight countries are expected to come to Breckenridge for a post- IPW familiarization trip May 26 -27 to experience a number of experiences exclusive to Breckenridge.
"Our state is one of the worst-funded transportation systems in the country," Summit County assistant manager Thad Noll told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. "We don't even have enough money to put restrooms in our rest areas."
That's right; CDOT doesn't even have enough money for port-o-potties. It's a budget reality Dave Eller, transportation director for CDOT Region 3, wants the public to be more aware of.
Eller, speaking during CDOT's quarterly meeting with the county, said the public might have a false impression of transportation funding being taken care of when they hear about funding bills being passed.
One such example is SB18-001, which passed on May 17 and is now awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature. The bill commits half a billion to transportation. But Eller pointed out that the money comes in installments and does not address a long-term funding solution.
"All it does is call for a public vote in 2019 about whether to approve a bonding program or a sales-tax increase that will fund transport long-term, but even that might not happen if the legislature changes," Eller said. "There are no guarantees, but a lot of 'ifs' and 'maybes.'"
Eller added the funding SB 1 provided isn't even close to what's needed just to tackle the existing CDOT project backlog, let alone major new projects.
"With SB 1, CDOT ends up with roughly $400 million over the next couple of years," Eller said. "But we have identified immediate projects that need to be done, not pie-in-the-sky big ticket items, and they cost $9 billion over the next 10 years. SB 1 puts a minor hail dent in that backlog."
Noll listed several significant local projects included in that backlog.
"Those immediate needs in our zone are work needed on the gap between Frisco and the hospital, improving access at Exit 203, an auxiliary lane to 205, a re-do of the Silverthorne interchange. We also need a climbing lane on the west side of Vail Pass, which is the most dangerous pass for truck crashes. Lot of projects that are planned, but are not happening unless we get some dollars for transportation."
Eller urged commissioners and other local officials to use local projects as a way to sell a long-term funding solution. He suggested that Summit County and other towns and counties start drawing up lists of projects that could use the funding before the initiative is put on the ballot.
If voters approve a bonding package or sales tax increase, Noll said that 45 percent of funds would potentially go to CDOT, while towns and counties each receive a 20 percent chunk of that funding to work on local "multi-modal" transport projects, which could include improvements for biking and pedestrian access. Voters could be enticed to pass the initiative if they see tangible benefits from the funding in their own neighborhoods.
"When you think of ballot this fall, you have to think half the money goes to locals," Eller said.
Commissioner Dan Gibbs said that Summit County is especially in need of infrastructure improvements as the county sees more visitors as a result of the state's population boom.
"We're now expecting 100,000 new people coming to the state annually," Gibbs said. "As a snapshot, that's about the size of Boulder or the size of Greeley coming in every year. A lot of those people wind up visiting here and it's already putting a big strain on us. At places like Quandary Peak, we're seeing tremendous resource damage from overuse. We need all those dollars."
If Summit County's towns are going to depart from a years-long trend of record-breaking growth in sales tax receipts, March wasn't the month for it.
Compared to March 2017, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne all finished ahead. For the third straight month, Dillon led the way percentage wise while Silverthorne saw the lowest rate of growth. In between, Breckenridge and Frisco also saw significant growth in March, and all four remain up at least 7.2 percent year to date.
THE BRECKENRIDGE BULL
Breckenridge does significantly more business than any other Summit County town, with estimated net taxable sales over $233 million through the first three months of 2018.
In March, Breckenridge was up 11.4 percent compared to March 2017, putting the town 10.5 percent ahead through the first three months of the year compared to January-March last year.
So far, the lodging sector has posted over $82 million in taxable sales this year, and the sector was up 12.8 percent in March compared to the same month last year, which town finance officials have attributed to an increase in the number of monthly returns filed. At the same time, Breckenridge is blaming a slight decline in the utility sector on decreases in gas and electric billings, in addition to warming temperatures.
In Breckenridge, retail was up 13.6 percent compared to March 2017, while restaurants and bars were up 12.7 percent, and grocery and liquor was up 7.7 percent in March over the same month last year due to increased sales, according to the town.
Construction has been somewhat of a teeter-totter so far 2018, down 10.1 percent in January, up 6 percent in February and down 1.52 percent again in March.
Overall, Breckenridge is trending almost $1 million over 2018 budgeted revenues in the excise fund with estimated sale tax receipts coming in $636,000 over budget and $627,000 over the previous year, according to the town's latest financial report.
Year to date, retail, restaurants and bars, lodging, grocery and liquor are all trending more than 10 percent ahead compared to the first three months of 2017, while construction, utility and other have been off the pace.
FRISCO'S ROSY FINANCIALS
In Frisco, the town's three biggest sectors are still chugging along, and Frisco saw 7.8 percent growth in its taxable sales in March compared to March 2017, the third straight month the town has seen growth above 6 percent.
As a result, Frisco is trending 8 percent ahead through the first three months of 2018 in a year-to-date comparison.
Like other Summit County towns, most sectors in Frisco saw growth in March, including arts and crafts (126.5 percent), hotels and inns (16.7 percent) vacation rentals (13.9 percent), recreation (11.1 percent), liquor (9.2 percent), gifts (8.8 percent), marijuana (4.3 percent) and office (0.5 percent).
At the same time, health and beauty (-12.7 percent), home improvement (-9.3 percent) and utility (-6.8 percent) sectors were behind their totals.
Despite those losses, however, Frisco's big three most impactful sectors — general retail (15.5 percent), restaurants (7.7 percent) and grocery (5.9 percent) — were also up month over month, and March came as the third straight month they have been that way, which comes as good news considering those businesses account for the majority of Frisco's sales tax receipts.
DRAMATIC RISES IN DILLON
Dillon continues to see blockbuster growth through 2018, posting double-digit, month-over-month gains for the third straight month, putting the town farther ahead, by percentage, than any others in Summit County.
After seeing wild growth in January (31.1 percent) and February (15.3 percent) Dillon was 17.3 percent ahead in March, leaving the town up 21.1 percent year to date.
Finance director Carri McDonnell tied some of the growth directly to new businesses that opened within the last year but were vacant the year before that.
With that in mind, McDonnell said she expects the growth to level off somewhat in May, when one of the businesses opened last year, and the town could see reductions in the wild growth rates in July and November because new businesses opened in those months last year as well, boosting the town's sales tax receipts.
"We've had some changes," McDonnell said, while adding the town has also benefited from a strong economy, and March was another big month for a lot of local businesses. Also, March will be the last month that the town sees a boost of the ice castles, which were taken down the second week of March.
Silverthorne had its best month of the year in March with estimated sales taxes eclipsing $1 million. However, that was only 1.9 percent more than what the town saw in March 2017 after posting much more dramatic rises in January (8.2 percent) and February (12.9 percent).
Year to date, Silverthorne is up 7.2 percent, and the town has posted growing sales taxes in month-to-month comparisons in 47 out of the last 51 months dating back to 2014.
In March, sales at the outlets were up 9.6 percent, while the service industries were up over $142,000, or 105 percent compared to March 2017. Lodging (8.85 percent) and food and liquor (5 percent) also saw gains while consumer retail (-2.5 percent) and building retail (-9.5 percent) were down compared to March 2017.
Still, consumer retail and the outlets tied in March for being Silvethorne's highest sales tax categories, each accounting for 23 percent of the month's taxable sales.
On the horizon, Silvethorne could see a boost from last week's opening of Christy Sports in the outlet mall and a late April homecoming for local Olympians and Paralympians, in which stores at the outlets saw 30-38 percent increases in sales the day of the event, according to the town.
In February, no one on Breckenridge Town Council would offer a motion for development agreement for a branded luxury hotel and 100,000-plus square feet of wholly owned condominiums at the base of Peak 8, essentially rejecting the proposal without a vote.
The development team pursing the project, however, feels like the town won't see a better offer, and that miscommunication and misunderstandings played major roles in the proposal failing on its first try. Now, they're trying not to make the same mistakes a second time as they prepare to resubmit the proposal and recast the project as Breckenridge's best opportunity to "finish the base of Peak 8 the right way."
The wrong way, according to Mike Dudick, co-owner and chief executive officer of Breckenridge Grand Vacations, would be to deny his company the opportunity and allow some other developer to take over. Under that scenario, he said, the community could face much more dramatic social impacts, while losing out on the benefit package he and his team have worked so hard to put together.
"That's what we're after," Dudick said of the project. "We never really articulated that before, and I think that's a really important thing for people to understand — this is about finishing the base of Peak 8 the right way."
A QUESTION OF DENSITY
At the heart of the matter is a question of density, which really boils down to square feet.
Breckenridge Grand Vacations is pursuing the project with the Miami-based firm Lionheart Capital. Breckenridge Ski Resort, owned by Vail Resorts, isn't a part of the development team, but the resort does own the land on which the hotel and condos would be built and has agreed to sell it under the condition its subsidiary, RockResorts, manages the hotel once built.
The developers previously sought to buy $5.2 million worth of transferable density rights — an unprecedented ask — from the town through a local program designed to preserve open space in the backcountry.
The proposal first surfaced in November, and even though council voted in favor of a sharp increase in the price of transferrable-density rights during the ensuing back-and-forth negotiations, the developers scrapped every one of their requests holding up the project except for that one, which they said is necessary to make the project financially viable.
At the mayor's suggestion, the developers have since worked a deal with Vail Resorts, in which the added density would come off the resort's in-town parking lots, thus negating the purchase from the town. As a result of that, there would be no net gain for the allowable density in town, Dudick said.
Rather if the town will approve his request for additional density this go-round, he thinks the bigger question is what could happen with the density that's already there.
'A BINARY CHOICE'
Echoing Councilman Gary Gallagher's statements from last week's State of the Town address, Dudick thinks the land at the base of Peak 8 is far too valuable for Vail Resorts to sit on it. If only for the view, it might be "the best parcel at the base of Peak 8," he said.
The issue came up at the State of the Town after someone in the gallery posed a question about why Breckenridge "needs" a four-star hotel, but it's not so much about the need as it is about private property rights.
The way that density works, the parcel at the base of Peak 8, currently has all the density rights a developer would need to build a hotel with up to 300 rooms at 325 square feet per room, Dudick said.
The rooms would be much smaller than what he's proposing, and there wouldn't be any condos, but the potential impacts could be much greater without any of the benefits.
"In the binary world of what you get vs. what you don't get," Dudick explained, Breckenridge could end up seeing more traffic on Ski Hill Road, a cannibalization of other business's employees and no new workforce-housing units. What's more is that as long as they stay within the town's building requirements, there wouldn't be a development agreement for the town to leverage any of the public benefits.
ABOUT THE BENI'S
The developers are guaranteeing the hotel and condos will come with a host of community benefits, and that might be their strongest selling point.
Listing them off, Dudick said they're going to guarantee the project won't exceed a "red line" for height. Breckenridge planning code is somewhat flexible regarding height requirements but Dudick said the hotel project won't go any taller than One Ski Hill Place, the tallest building at the Base of Peak 8, even though a developer could likely get one approved through the town's planning process.
Dudick also said they plan to abandon Sawmill Run Road, which cuts through a residential neighborhood to access Vail Resorts administration building, which currently sits on the site. The route is trafficked by hundreds of cars every day, but being "a good neighbor" means "listening to what those folks behind this property would like" to see in the project, according to Dudick.
In addition to that, they're also proposing a $125,000 donation for the preservation of Cucumber Gulch or to be spent at the town's discretion. They've also worked out a deal with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center to offer the center's guests use of ADA parking spaces inside the facility, giving disabled skiers better access to the mountain than ever before.
Furthermore, Dudick said the hotel is expected to generate about $1 million annually in incremental sales and lodging tax revenue and provide professional advancement opportunities for young people looking to come to or stay in the community.
"There may be some people in the community who don't like (the idea of a hotel), but given the choices — you can have a laundry list of things that are good for the community vs. zero from another developer — I think we're the clear choice that benefits the community," Dudick said.
A PATH TO PASSAGE?
If the developers can secure Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe's support, they could see a clear path for approval of the development agreement as at least three other elected officials have offered statements suggesting they could be "yes" votes, too.
Another voting member of town council, Mayor Eric Mamula, pitched the idea of the development team approaching Vail Resorts about stripping the added density off the resorts' parking lots. Initially, Vail Resorts rejected the idea, but the developers have since worked out a deal with the resort to buy the density, and that could help earn Mamula's support.
Detailing exactly what it would take to get her vote, Wolfe has laid out three stipulations she said must be addressed before she can favor the development agreement. She wants guarantees that Ski Hill Road won't be further degraded by the project and that any workforce-housing units will be new ones and not cannibalized from somewhere else in town. Other than that, Wolfe said the project must be fully vetted by the community.
To answer Wolfe's calls, Dudick said they will commit to buying additional shuttles and offset any traffic impact over what they're projecting as "a backstop for the town."
Addressing concerns over employee housing, Dudick offered that Breckenridge Grand Vacations signed a lease last week to have his company participate in the construction of 24 new workforce-housing rental units, and his goal is "to go into town council on June 26 with 112 new workforce-housing bedrooms on the table."
To give the community a chance to vet the proposal, there will be two upcoming open houses, one from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 4 at the South Branch of the Summit County Library in Breckenridge and another from 4-7 p.m. June 12 at the Grand Colorado on Peak 8, in addition to mailers and a new informational website, Finish8.com, that's underdevelopment.
Talking about where he thinks he might get the necessary votes, Dudick sidestepped the question and expressed his hope it will be unanimous.
"I understand that, technically, we need four votes in order to approve the development agreement," he said. "But from a community standpoint, I think it's more important we have broad-based support on town council and broad-based support in the community. That's what we're after. I'm not just going for four votes; I want them all."
The U.S. Forest Service has announced that many campgrounds in the White River National Forest are open for the season as of May 18. However, some open later in the season depending on weather and conditions. For a complete list of campgrounds in the forest, opening and closing dates, and reservation fees, visit the Forest Service website at bit.ly/WRNF2018Camping.
With the opening of campgrounds and the arrival of spring, there is the potential for visitors to cross paths with other visitors, wildlife and Forest Service personnel. The Forest Service would like to remind visitors to be responsible when visiting the forest by demonstrating camping etiquette, adhering to Forest regulations, being bear aware and practicing Leave No Trace principles. Campers are asked to observe general camping etiquette including following all posted rules in campgrounds, respecting quiet hours and leaving campsites clean for the next visitor.
Additionally, within the next few weeks, seasonal trail and wilderness crews will again be out and active in the forest clearing trails and beginning to work on summer projects. Visitors can expect to encounter crews working around the forest and near recreation spots. If you come across a downed tree or other issues on a trail, campground or overlook, report it to your local Ranger Station.
The Forest Service also reminds visitors that White River National Forest is bear country, and mandatory food storage order is in effect for all visitors to decrease the likelihood of bear-human conflicts. All food must be stored in a bear-resistant manner by using a food locker in campgrounds, approved containers or inside a vehicle in a sealed container. All food and attractants must be stored where bears can't access them at night and during the daytime when unattended. The Forest Service adheres to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee standards for bear-resistant containers, trash receptacles and coolers. If a bear gets accustomed to finding or receiving food in a campground or recreation area, it may become a danger to humans and be euthanized.
For more information about camping and recreation in the White River National Forest, call the Glenwood Springs Supervisor's Office at 970-945-2521 or contact your local Forest Service District office.
After bypassing the county last year, the second annual Mavic Haute Route Rockies cycling tour will make a stop in Summit County, which will serve as the "Queen Stage" seven-day event in June.
From June 23-29, hundreds of cyclists will complete seven stages — including one time trial — over seven days, riding on high-altitude pavement passes and hardpack dirt roads. This event in Colorado is one of a dozen races across the globe the European-based company OC Sport is putting on this summer.
"It's focused on providing a pro-level experience to amateurs," said race ambassador Jaime Brede of Breckenridge. "Some of the classic road stages, now they are providing that same experience here in North America."
"It's super grueling," Brede added. "It's 55,000 feet of climbing over the course of the week and you are doing at least 65-110 miles a day. So you really need to be trained up for it. That being said, anybody can do it, it's just a matter of when you start training."
The tour begins with a loop on the first day to and from Boulder before subsequent stages traverse to Winter Park and Avon before cyclists arrive in Breckenridge at the end of Stage 5 on Wednesday, June 27.
In describing that "Queen Stage" on Day 6 that will depart and return to Breckenridge, Brede said the 113-mile cycle will be the toughest test of the full seven days.
"It's going to be the biggest day, for sure," Brede said. "It's going to be really grueling."
On Day 5, cyclists will enter into Breckenridge after traversing over Tennessee Pass and Chalk Mountain as part of a 94.1-mile day. Then Day 6 in Summit County will not only be the longest cycle of the seven days, it'll also require cyclists to climb up and over Swan Mountain, then Loveland Pass, then Guanella Pass and, finally, Hoosier Pass, before returning to Breckenridge.
The final Day 7 will require cyclists to top out above 14er Pikes Peak. That'll be after a shuttle from Breckenridge to Woodland Park, where Day 7 will depart.
Brede added that anyone interested in competing can email her at email@example.com to utilize a 10 percent discount to register for the race, which is currently priced at $2,295. The cost covers a complete rider's pack, course marshals, escorts, security and medical staff on the road, food, mechanical assistance on-course, daily massages and other amenities. Accommodation fees during the event are at an additional cost, starting at $845. Racers also can enter via a charity option through the Team Type 1 Foundation, the event's official charity partner. Race organizers say entering via the charity option could include a full reimbursement of hotel accommodations, the entry fee and more.
Brede added that the event is offering training plans including one with the Boulder-based company Training Peaks for $50.
"The person who would have the most fun doing this is somebody that is up for an adventure," Brede said, "Someone well trained who is ready to spend seven days in the saddle. It's going to be an unparalleled experience as far as beauty and fitness and getting that pro-level bike race experience as an amateur."
At the annual State of the Town address on Wednesday night, Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula offered an update regarding negotiations between town officials and Vail Resorts over building a parking garage on one of the resort-owned properties in town.
Vail Resorts owns Breckenridge Ski Resort and maintains three parking lots in the town: the Gold Rush, North and South Gondola lots. Meanwhile, the town has been pursuing a plan to build a 400-space parking garage on the town-owned surface parking lots at Tiger Dredge and F Lot since last summer, when town council decided that was the town's best available option.
Most everyone in town agrees that the parking garage would be better suited on the ski resort's South Gondola Lot, but it's unclear if the two parties will be able to reach an agreement that could land it there.
Responding to questions posed by the members of the public on Wednesday, the mayor said talks remain exactly where they were in the first week of April, when the potential agreement fell through, and the two sides haven't spoken since. However, Mamula expressed optimism the silence could soon break and discussions will be resurrected.
"We still hope that there will be some conversation with Vail over the use of South Gondola," he said Wednesday. "While as of right now we're not talking to each other, I always hope there is some thawing."
After deciding that the Tiger Dredge and F Lot would be the best available option, the town spent much of last year planning and designing the parking garage there. Officials with Vail Resorts offered a lukewarm response to the plan, saying that Breckenridge was taking steps in the right direction but they fell well short of living up to what the resort has characterized as a broken town promise, made in 2015, to build up a 900-space parking garage on the F Lot property.
It's since been revealed that building such a large structure at Tiger Dredge and F Lot could trigger a Colorado Department of Transportation highway widening project in downtown Breckenridge that nobody wants to see, according to town staff.
After the discussions to build on the South Gondola Lot surfaced and failed, town council put its construction plans at Tiger Dredge and F Lot on hold, a move that gives the two sides, however far apart they may be, significantly more time to try to work a deal.
Mamula said he and town manager Rick Holman "had some great discussions for a couple of weeks" with officials at Vail Resorts, and they got "very close to an agreement" before talks got hung up on some of the details and the potential agreement fell apart.
"That's just how these things go," Mamula said. "We're hoping to get back on that sooner than later."
Mamula's updates regarding parking garage talks with Vail Resorts were offered at the beginning of the State of the Town, and he reiterated his comments at the end of the address, as well.
"We've decided to put the parking structure on hold … in order to potentially engage Vail Resorts to put the parking garage where it belongs, which is South Gondola," he said at the end of the address. "I think most people in the community agree that is where it belongs, and if we don't get there, maybe we end up building it on property that we own."
But he's hoping that won't be the case.
"Honestly, South Gondola is where it belongs," the mayor conceded before asking for the public's help. "If you, as a citizen, have anybody you know who works for the resorts up high, send that message."