GYPSUM, Colo. – A new bottled water called Vaspen is to be distributed late this year, playing off the names of Vail and Aspen.
The water will come from neither, but rather from springs at Sweetwater Lake, on the Flat Top Mountains. It’s 60 miles from Vail and 76 miles from Aspen.
The Aspen Times reports that SCC Partners Group has raised $6.9 million and hoped to raise an additional $12.5 million at a meeting in Aspen of potential investors. Steve Miller, a principal in the limited liability corporation, says he and partners hope to compete against other high-end waters such as Fiji, Volvic, Perrier, San Pellegrino, and Evian.
Miller told the Times that Americans have been spending $1 billion annually on premium bottled water, and the high-end segment of the market has been the fastest growing. Just as people are looking with greater interest at craft beers, wines, and spirits, “they’re moving toward craft water.”
Time grows short for settlement
PARK CITY, Utah – The story about what will happen to Park City Mountain Resort has been kicked down the street, possibly until late August.
A district court judge in Utah has signed the order evicting Powdr Corp. from that portion of the ski area owned by Talisker and operated by Vail Resorts. But he also ordered Powdr and Talisker/Vail Resorts to participate in mediation, to see if they can resolve the issue in a way that allows for continued operation of the ski area.
Powdr and its predecessors had leased the top two-thirds of the ski area from Talisker for about 40 years on a deal struck by previous owners of the one-time mining property. Somehow, a perfunctory renewal requirement in 2011 was missed by Powdr, and Talisker promptly announced that it would not renew the lease. Vail then leased Talisker’s local ski area, The Canyons, and also Talisker’s land underlying the Park City Mountain Resort.
The Park Record notes that the hearing attracted a larger number of people from the community than had been the case previously. In an editorial, the same newspaper suggested why: “Many Park City businesses and property owners and employees are living day to day with a shadow over their investments and livelihoods.”
The newspaper noted that “heated rhetoric of the last few weeks suggests the two entities are miles apart from working out a sale or lease that would knit the PCMR-owned base facilities and the ski terrain back together.” But, added The Record, “the two must reach a deal or accept responsibility for creating an unskiable mountain surrounded by empty parking lots and a bitter community.”
Some in the community have rooted for Vail, thinking it more capable of establishing Park City as an intermountain resort. Others worry about Vail’s growing dominance in the ski industry.
“Both PCMR and Vail have told The Park Record they have the community’s best interests at heart,” concludes the Record. “Frankly, we are skeptical.”
Foreclosures down, building up
AVON, Colo. – The real estate economy continues to recover broadly in mountain towns of the West.
In Avon, at the foot of Beaver Creek, a commercial building with offices called Brookside Park is being retrofitted into 16 lofts averaging 1,500 square feet. “It’s going to be very urban, very lofty,” says Frank Navaro, managing principal of Navaro Lowrey, the project’s developer.
Writing in the Vail Daily, another real estate broker notes that the foreclosures in Eagle County, where Vail and Beaver Creek are located, may hit 100 this year—the lowest since 2005, at the peak of the boom.
The Town of Squaw Valley?
SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. – To become a town or not? That’s the question at California’s Squaw Valley, the ski area that Denver-based KSL Partners bought several years ago and has begun pouring money into. Part of a 2011 plan is to substantially expand and upgrade the commercial base, by up to 1,000 new residential units.
That plan has been down-sized, but it sparked a drive to create a municipality, to ensure greater local control, with occupancy and other sales taxes to pay the bills. But KSL opposes incorporation, arguing that the town could not support its own operations. It has reportedly bankrolled $121,000 of efforts to oppose incorporation.
And the Sierra Sun reports that two local lodges, Squaw Valley Lodge and the Resort at Squaw Valley, have also asked to be excluded.
The core argument is whether a local municipality could pay for its own operations. KSL argues that it would not. But the group called Incorporate Our Valley says it can. To that end, reports the Sierra Sun, it has hired a Sacramento-area consultancy called Citygate Associates to analyze the finances of incorporation. The analysis is expected to take five months.
In the ski world, most base area developments have become formal municipalities. Vail, the ski area started in 1962, and the ski-area operator, then called Vail Associates, fully supported incorporation in 1962. Snowmass Village was created after the launch of ski area operations.
But here and there can be found other governing models. Beaver Creek has a special district, but no town. Ditto for Copper Mountain. Teton Village, at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is similarly not a town.