Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ambitious ski plan for Pikes Peak calls for 350 condos

The top of my story in tomorrow's Gazette:

By Dave Philipps

It has been 17 years since the last local ski area closed and many have predicted that ski lifts would never turn in the Pikes Peak region again. But Wednesday a local investor said he plans to open a small ski resort on the back of Pikes Peak.
John Ball, former C.E.O. of Eller Industries, a Boulder-based broadband company, has a contract with local climbing legend Harvey Carter to buy 320 acres of land just south of The Crags on the west side of Pikes Peak. He plans to build “The Resort at Pikes Peak,” a small, renewable energy-powered ski area with slopeside condos.
He envisions it as a community hill used mainly by people in El Paso and Teller Counties. It could eventually include five chairlifts, 33 ski trails,three restaurants, a 300 room hotel and 350 condos.
It is one of a growing trend in niche family hills that survive in the shadows of coporate giants like Vail by being closer and more convenient.
“It would be like Eldora, just above Boulder,” Ball said Wednesday. “People don’t necessarily come from out of state to ski it, but the community loves it because its so close. My kids can take the bus up to Eldora in 30 minutes.”
The Pikes Peak plan is still in its infancy. It needs approval from the Teller County Commissioners, who are not yet aware of the plan, including detailed plans for road access, water and sewer lines. Since the road would cross Pike National Forest, it will also need approval from the U.S. Forest Service.
The talk of a ski area on Carter’s land may have some longtime local skiers saying “not again.”
Harvey Carter, 77, who, among other things, worked for 22 years as an Aspen ski patroller and founded Climbing magazine, has been trying to build a ski area on the backside of Pikes Peak for the better part of 50 years.
“It’s the only place on the peak you could do it,” he said Wednesday. “It gets the most snow. It has private land right where it would need to be at the base. And it’s high enough.”
Carter’s long-term measurements on land, which is at 10,500 feet, show the area gets an average of 12 feet of snow — almost twice that of other slopes on Pikes Peak.
He has been courting investors since the 1960s,<>


zen said...

Yeah good luck with that one. No way he's going to get approval for 350 condos + 5 lifts and 300 room (?!?!?) hotel up there. Not with the road punching through the heart of a kid's camp. Not unless he brings some serious commercial and residential water rights.

And there's no way he'll survive unless he can make snow.

12 feet isn't much - though as an NWS spotter, I'd say Carter's measured average of 12 feet a year seems low for that side of the mountain (WP's long term average is ~100 inches at 8465 feet).

One lift + a good sledding hill, and a small base is not only doable, it would most certainly be welcomed by locals. But this big of a plan is sure to set people off. I smell a Red McCombs in the making!


Super G said...

Dave, can you put a link to show what precisely this encompasses on Pikes Peak?

Dena Rosenberry said...

I'll hunt around for Dave's docs and get them posted if he can't. He'll be headed out on assignment soon.

JB said...

Hi Dave, Please introduce us as a smaller operation, not a developer going in for 350 condos on Pikes Peak. That is an absolute Blue Sky figure for starting out. From page 36 of the Private Placement Memorandum that I sent you this morning, “STAGE TWO: This phase will closely follow the initial year of operation. The second phase will include construction of one 27 unit condominium facility, featuring an average of 1020 square feet per unit.” That is only one. Total 27 condominiums. We will be courting Teller County and the Forest Service by FIRST being good neighbors. Please do not use the proposed headline I saw in your blog for tomorrow’s story. We just want to make lower priced, close-in skiing available to Colorado Springs families. Thank you. url for YouTube video:

Dave Philipps said...

Sorry John, by the time you posted your comment, I was already gone and the story had been posted. Also, I feel if the development number you sent me are what you are giving to investors, than its a fair and accurate picture of what the place could eventually encompass.

JB said...

Thank you Dave. I had tried calling you on the phone first before posting on the blog. I left a couple of voicemail messages. In my investor presentations I always show the small 27 number of initial condominiums and we discuss the potential political and economic ramifications. The 350 number is similar to the idea that one day the Forest Service might entertain utilization of the upper peak for skiing. A hope, a Blue Sky projection of what might be possible if all things worked in our favor. Similar to a hotel build out. All we really can plan for is a very small skiing area to benefit a few slopeside residences until the Forest Service and County approve any plans presented. To date, no plans have even been submitted for their review. The Plan is still being developed and a long way from being ready for presentation. I called you to determine if you wanted to go backcountry skiing with several of us based on your previous articles. I think we share the same appreciation for Colorado's beauty.

bill_brown_cmc said...

The approximate corners are:
13 S 489344 4301947
13 S 490954 4301926
13 S 490843 4301110
13 S 489231 4301138
This is not precise, but should give a pretty good idea of the boundary.

LS Labriola said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Soap Opera Fan said...

Wow, a soap opera right here on daytime.

judge judy said...

What? Does anyone care to elaborate on these allocations or defend themselves?

Dave Philipps said...

The post above was deleted because it was potentially libelous.

We allow comments on the blog to share ideas and opinions, but we - and you all - are bound to standards.

We need to follow the guidelines set on regarding comments on any stories, which ends with:

"We want our site to be a place where people discuss and debate ideas that foster stronger communities. We built this for you. Please take care of it. Tolerate broad thinking, but take action against obscene or hateful material. Make it a credible and safe place worth preserving and sharing."

Feel free to e-mail directly with your comments or concerns:

LS Labriola said...

1. My post has been erased.

2. No one has contacted me regarding the veracity of my statements despite the fact that I posted my telephone number.

3. I find that interesting.

Today I left another voice mail for John Ball, so I will see if he responds. My hopes are not high however, as he has yet to respond to dozens of voice mails, emails, and even registered letters since March 2004.

I would invite the blog manager to call me at my office as well, 303.652.1555. It is the same telephone number I have been leaving for John Ball since early 2004.

In the interim, anyone can Google

"leonard s labriola" "john ball"

and see what comes up.

They say that the truth will always come out. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but eventually the truth will always come out.

You know, that just might be true!

judge judy said...

Can you remove my last post? It should have read "allegations"... or even "accusations"...

The Judge has surpassed her allocation of cough syrup today.

But that guy did bring up a good point - what if this guy is trying to bamboozle a bunch of dumb townies out of land and money. It could happen. I saw a TV show where a guy did that by convincing the entire town to invest in a Monorail - same as he did in the towns of Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway.

I don't think a ski resort would fly in the Springs anyhow. It's more of a Boulder idea...

Dena Rosenberry said...

Yes, the truth rules. But Dave's on assignment right now and I'm busy with the daily, so for now, the post remains removed.

I doubt much further will be written about this without background info on all parties involved - and details about the plans.

But let's keep the conversation going.

As we've noted, many people have dreamed dreams of opening small resorts or reviving small resorts or expanding small resorts in recent years. Not much has happened, however.

Mayor Lionel Rivera said...

Now wait just a minute! We're twice as smart as the people of Boulder! Just tell us your idea and we'll vote for it!

zen said...

As journalists assigned to this story, I encourage you to investigate Leonard Labriola's claims.

We're talking about plans for a multimillion dollar resort that will irrevocably alter the west side of the peak - an area which, outside of Harvey Carter's 320 acres, has also been proposed for wilderness designation.

Now I for one am willing to listen to John Ball's plans. I'll grant him that courtesy.

But I think we also should investigate just who John Ball is.

Now maybe we're talking little more than sour grapes here. To be honest, I know nothing about either party or Eller Industries which Leonard Labriola claims to have co-founded, and John Ball claims to have led as CEO.

But I did read Leonard Labriola's post before it was deleted. And the claims he makes concern me greatly, and I do encourage you to follow up with both Leonard and John.

As a resident of Woodland Park, I have spent a lot of time in the Crags / Banana Rock area hiking, snowshoeing, photographing, studying the ecology, picking up litter, pulling invasive species, dismantling illegal firepits, caring for the peak. A lot of my spirit is invested in the area, and John's buildout plans directly affect some of my favorite areas.

I for one definitely want to know who he is.

LS Labriola said...

Fair enough Dena. But I did call the Gazette today and leave a message hoping for a call back prior to posting on the blog.

For the record, everything in the removed post was absolutely true - I (painfully) dug up many of the old letters and emails today. I expect that folks will find them most interesting.

But for now, we will just wait for Dave to return or for John Ball to call me at 303.652.1555.

My STRONG recommendation - do NOT do a thing until you review the record.

John Ball got involved with Eller Industries in late February of 2004. Get him on the record... ask him what happened.

Dena Rosenberry said...

I couldn't agree more, Zen. Even if the money is there and the desire is there, this is a LONG way from becoming reality.

We have a LOT of work to do - here and in the community - before anything happens to that land.

Anonymous said...

A monorail to Pikes Peak Ski Area. Now there's an idea.

Anonymous said...

I for one would be very excited about this idea. Travel and expense to Summit County to go skiing is not feasible for people who truly want to ski but can't make it up there. Plus, maybe - if done right - a few more jobs in this area. We're headed to a recession and I think it would be good to encourage business here. I do have sympathy and understand the concern over preservation of Colorado's beauty, but also know that Summit county shouldn't be the only area to ski in Colorado. C'mon - I think this is exciting news adn my family and friends would have so much fun - AND spend more money in the CS area afterwards in the restaurants and such!!!! C'Mon - lets build it!!!

William Hearst said...

Wait a minute -- Dena writes: "I doubt much further will be written about this without background info on all parties involved."

Last time I checked journalists actually researched stories.

This is a good old fashioned Texas He said, He said and it seems like there is a bit of slime and history involved.

Last time I checked that sold papers.

Dena Rosenberry said...

Well, Mr. Hearst, that's why I said I doubt much more will be written about this until a lot more is known about everyone involved and how the planning process will unfold.

You might be surprised about how few papers are sold based on news covered. The days of the daily newspaper wars ended long before most of us at The Gazette were born.

Brian said...

Also, I think it's fair to mention that William Randolph Hearst ended long before most of us here were born- could explain his thinking here a bit.

As for Mr. Ball & Mr. Labriola, I think everyone would be interested to see come background on this in the paper. This is the largest number of comments I ahve seen for a post on this blog.

LS Labriola said...

I apologize if it appears as though I am using this blog for other than Gazette business.

It is my personal experience however, that if you are considering a project conceived, headed, designed, or promoted by John Ball, this is of interest to you.

Good morning John Ball. I left you another voice mail yesterday and will leave another message here. Please call me at 303.652.1555.

You should also contact Mark, Ron, Stu, Scott, Lou, and many of the others associated with our efforts in 2004. I know they each have more than a few thoughts that they would love to share with you personally.

Dr. Phil said...

OK, it is time to get 'Real'.

I'm actually not sure what John Ball did, but to me it seems like Leonard got strongarmed out of his own company. I googled what I was told to google and all it said was 'the founders had stepped down.'

I'm sure there are hard feelings and all that, but I'm sure Steve Jobs wasn't all that keen on being shuttled from Apple in the late 90s. That was his company too. Of course now he's back. Maybe Leonard can mount a comeback too and become the Steve Jobs of Broadband again....

...ok, maybe that's not as sexy as an iPod.

Seriously, there seems to be some bitterness here, but it is just bitterness and wanting closure or was somebody actually wronged. I imagine there would be civil or criminal charges if there were really anymore to this story.

And for Ms. Rosenberry's comments regarding selling papers I agree, BUT if you look through the headlines of the Gazette the past few weeks there is hardly anything titilating or compelling. This sounds like an interesting backstory at the very least. I think if both sides were told and an objective report were put out it would be quite interesting and readable.

Dena Rosenberry said...

That's the plan. We'll talk to all parties involved that we can talk to and see if there's a story there -- a story that's pertinent to what is going on now.

Readers are sending in information and names and telephone numbers, which is helpful.

Dave and I will chat about where to take this when he's back Monday. I'm a believer in getting things right above getting things first.

In the meantime, it's a good idea to keep voicing concerns, what you'd like to see, questions you want asked, etc. It can only help us share a full report in the end.

LS Labriola said...

For the record,

1. I have no interest in your issues down there.

2. I resigned from Eller in September 2003 as the press release states, long before John Ball came on board in late February of 2004.

3. As you can see in the press release, along with many other additions to the Eller team, John Ball was announced as the new marketing VP on March 1, 2004.

4. He was gone prior to May, 2004. Yes, that is correct. March then April then May.

5. Yes, it does sting to remember that we lost tens of millions of dollars in financing from the top investment bankers in the country because of one man's selfish ambitions. I suspect that you would sting as well.

6. Initiating civil action against a party with no assets is a waste of energy, time, and money.

Vanessa said...

I'm a new resident in Teller County and the idea of having a local ski resort 20 minutes from home is wonderful! I would love to spend my money here instead of Summit County. So I'm excited about the opportunity if done right. My teenage son is also excited and would make his life much easier -- so instead of trying to get a job at KeyStone he could work at a local resort! :)

I vote YES!

LS Labriola said...

I thought for sure I would have received a telephone call or an email from someone.

Have not heard from anyone - no reporters, no John Ball...

Of course, that John Ball won't respond is no surprise.

And if the property owner gets his $1 million in 30 days he'll be happy.

But who is John Ball getting the $1million down payment from? That is the question.

Couldn't be his own bank account.

Couldn't be a bank or experienced investor. I'd have heard from them as they sought to verify the "broadband executive" story. I am still astounded over the gall it took for him to make that claim.

But if so, caveat emptor.

My best guess however, is that he is going after a bunch of unsophisticated mom and pop investors.

Well, all I can do is run up the red flag. I called your local newspaper directly and knowing that they follow this blog, I have pretty much done all that I can.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff! I recall riding lifts with Harvey on Ajax 25+ years ago and sharing his vision of banning skis under 205cm. Ha!

What is the potential vertical drop of this proposed ski area?

LS Labriola said...

Dena Posted:

"That's the plan. We'll talk to all parties involved that we can talk to and see if there's a story there -- a story that's pertinent to what is going on now."

For the record - it has now been many weeks since that was posted and while I think I am one of the parties involved, no one has ever made an attempt to talk to me.

So the only impression that could be left for those following this blog is that the Gazette looked into the details of this situation, an affirmative evaluation has been made by the Gazette, and that they have determined that either there is no story here or that it is not pertinenet to this current situaion.

Well, as it sounds like Ball has 22mom and pop investors ready to pony up $70,000 a piece, I cannot imagine that this would not be of interest to at least those 22 mom and pop investors.

Wow! Whose looking out for them? Clearly not the Gazette.

Even if I am full of hot air with an ax to grind for some imagined slight against John Ball - which i assure you is not the case - that no one from the paper has even bothered to make a phone call or send an email to check it out is an amazing deriliction of duty in my view - that is, if even a shred remains of the duty of the press to truthfully and objectively inform the public.

Well - good luck to the 22! Clearly they are on thier own!

Dena Rosenberry said...

I've been out of the office for a week, but to my knowledge Dave hasn't done any more reporting on this story. If you haven't received a call, that's why. As far as I can tell, this resort is a long way from happening, and there's plenty of time to figure out who the parties are and their track records.

LS Labriola said...

Well, according to the report only a week or so ago in the Gazette, the promoter John Ball is late on his $1 million down payment and is claiming to have $1.5 million committed from 22 investors.

Since he is trying to cash $1.5 million in checks from who I suspect are unsophisticated investors, how can you say that anything happening is a long way off?

Or, if what I am saying is true, will this not become a news story until after 22 possibly inexperienced investors possibly lose $1.5 million?

Hey - maybe John Ball has turned over a new leaf and has become a model citizen - but what if not? At least ask him some questions for crying out loud and talk to some folks who have had prior experience with the man.

Only then can you make a knowlegeable decision and report responsibley - at least in my opinion.

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