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Good Article on Stowe, VT

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I chose to post this here, this way, because the Burlington Free Press does not keep their articles up long. A link would prove to be broken after a week. This way, all that want to read about the changes this summer can.

From the Burlington Free Press:
Stowe construction under way

By Leslie Wright
Free Press Staff Writer

STOWE -- Construction traffic was so heavy at Stowe Mountain Resort this summer that employees were given a driving protocol -- yield to all heavy equipment coming downhill.

The reason was pretty simple. Loaded heavy equipment can't stop very well, said Mike Colbourn, vice president of marketing. That was the tenor of summer and fall at the resort. Rumbling and lumbering construction vehicles loaded with the raw materials of change streamed up and down Mountain Road like so many ants on an ant hill.

A helicopter dropped lift towers in place with remarkable precision. All of the activity is the harbinger of the first major change at Stowe in 13 years.

"It's incredibly exciting," Colbourn said.

After years of delays and compromise, Stowe has embarked on a $250 million development. The 35-acre project includes homes, duplexes and a 95-room hotel along with underground parking, restaurants, shops and a golf course.

Real estate has moved swiftly, with home lots and million-dollar "mountain cabins" nearly all under contract. What was billed as a 10-year plan might be on track to wrap up much sooner.

"If pre-sales are any indication of how the project will proceed, it will probably be closer to six or seven years," Colbourn said.

The resort, which credits it existence to the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps crews that cut its trails, is about to be transformed from a ski area to a destination resort.
Breaking ground

This summer's construction tab was $50 million. The landscape around the base of the resort has been dramatically altered. Dirt roads were smoothed out from hardscrabble ravines and gullies. A massive snow- making pond was dug. The $4 million, 112-million-gallon pond stood empty this fall, resembling a lunar crater.

Four holes of an 18-hole golf course have been chiseled out of a side hill.

"This will be like playing golf in the sky," Colbourn said driving up a steep construction road to a golf hole with a breathtaking view of the resort's trails and Mt. Mansfield.

The first pieces in a plan are in place to put Stowe back on the map as a premier resort, set to compete with the likes of Mont Tremblant to the north in Quebec, Deer Valley in Utah, or Stratton Mountain right here in Vermont.

As construction wrapped up for the winter, Stowe's parent company -- insurance giant American International Group Inc. -- became embroiled in controversy over bid rigging in the insurance industry in a case brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Other states have followed suit.

AIG Spokesman Joe Norton would not comment on specifics of the allegations, but said construction at Stowe should not be affected.

"We don't believe there will be any impact whatsoever," Norton said.

To Stowe officials, the activity is a welcome sight after six years of permitting, negotiating and compromise.

There is no doubt the village, whose architecture features rock walls and timbers, bringing to mind a fusion of European Alpine village and Adirondack design, will change the dynamics in the Stowe area. Whether that's good or bad depends on whom you ask.

"I'm pessimistic for the long-term health for the existing community of Stowe," said Lyndall Heyer, a Stowe resident who grew up in the innkeeping business in the mountain town.

Heyer was also active in an environmental group called the Regional Pure Water Protective League, or RIPPLE, that fought for changes in Stowe's plans. Heyer worries that the resort will become walled off from the rest of the town. With shops, restaurants and lodging on the mountain, visitors won't come to town. The symbiotic relationship between the town and the mountain will suffer, she fears.

The Stowe Area Association has a different take.

"Initially, in the first year or two, there will be some shifts of people here and there, but I think that opening up a whole new market of ski-in ski-out simply expands our market base," said Valerie Rochon, executive director of the association, which includes the chamber of commerce and a central lodging booking system for members.

Real estate sales

Demand for Stowe's slopeside real estate has been high. All 10 of the resort's initial offering of single-family home lots are under contract. Ten more will be offered at a date as yet undetermined, Colbourn said.

Eleven of 12 duplex units being built in phase one of the development are under contract. Plans call for 19 duplexes with 38 units.

The duplexes are 3,000 square feet on each side. Prices range from $1.6 million to $2 million.

There has been high interest in real estate at the mountain because buyers know this is the one and only opportunity to buy ski-in, ski-out lodging at Stowe, Colbourn said. Stowe is permitted for 400 housing units. The rest of the land surrounding the resort is permanently protected.

Next year, additional lodging will be under construction with a 95-room hotel and new base lodge, Colbourn said.

This winter, skiers and snowboarders will notice changes to Spruce Peak. Spruce is the smaller, easier half of Stowe. More challenging terrain is found on the Mt. Mansfield side of the resort.

Changes at Spruce Peak were made with the aim of appealing to a wider audience in mind, which is part of the vision for Stowe, Colbourn said. Stowe has had a reputation for the steep, challenging, and narrow trails on the Mt. Mansfield side of the resort, which have given the resort it's image as a skier's mountain.

"There's a market segment, whether you're a beginner or a family, that we simply haven't served," Colbourn said.

Here's what's new at Spruce for the winter:

-- Sunny Spruce quad, which carries four people per chair, replaces a double chair.

-- Adventure triple, a new chair that carries three people on a chair and is designed for beginner skiers and snowboarders.

-- Inspiration, a new trail designed for novice skiers and snowboarders served by the Adventure lift.

-- A new 112-million-gallon snowmaking pond will boost the mountain's snowmaking capacity significantly.

Contact Leslie Wright at 660-1841 or

New at Stowe

Mount Mansfield Co. and Spruce Peak Realty embarked on a $250 million development this summer. The project is expected to take six to nine years. Here's what happened this summer:

CHAIR LIFTS: Sunny Spruce detachable "quad" to carry four people per chair. Cost: $4 million; Adventure a "triple" to carry three people per chair Cost: $800,000. Both lifts are at Spruce Peak.

TRAIL: Inspiration trail on Spruce Peak served by the Adventure lift is designed for beginners.

SNOWMAKING: Snowmaking improvements including a 50-foot deep, 112-million-gallon snowmaking pond. Cost: $4 million.

GOLF: Four holes are complete on an 18-hole course designed by Bob Cupp.

LOTS: 10 slope-side single-home lots at Spruce Peak are under contract.

DUPLEXES: 11 of 12 duplexes, called mountain cabins, at Spruce Peak are under contract.

Here is that link also http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/b...ness/1000h.htm
post #2 of 2
Interesting article, thanks for sharing. I don't know if its good news or bad...
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