Wed, Jun 6, 2012 03:37 PM
Editor's note: the is the second part in the historical
series about Killington's quest for a village following Lorentz's
initial story, True Obstacles.
With Killington's 1968 revised master plan calling for a
400-acre site to be used for a destination resort village, the ski
area embarked upon building the Edgemont condominiums.
"It wasn't so much a burning desire to get into the condominium
development business, but rather the fact that at the time the
concept of condominiums was relatively new to Vermont, and there
were no other developers who really wanted to experiment with it.
Since we wanted to commence development in the 400 acres, our only
choice was to do it ourselves," recalled Martel "Marty" Wilson in a
1988 interview. Wilson, who had joined Killington as controller in
1966, had been put in charge of Killington's real estate
Built at the periphery of the new 400-acre village so as to
avoid making any mistakes with the village center itself, Edgemont
represented a tentative, first step with forty units built and
The next project was the Killington Village Inn (aka The
Villager) built in 1972-73. Built as a hotel, the company retained
ownership and later used the rooms for the School for Tennis
lodging. Whiffletree (48 units built 1973 to 1975, 24 units, 1978)
was Killington's last venture into the direct development of
The year 1973 saw a national economic downturn with interest rates
rising as fuel prices escalated. Simultaneously, the East
experienced disastrous weather and snow conditions. This made for
drastically reduced interest in condominiums and Killington
experienced a decline in sales revenues.
In 1974, ski business in the East was severely affected by
combined impacts of fuel shortage and increased costs, which were
exacerbated by lean snow and substantial lack of skier days.
Killington found itself with unsold condominium units and $200,000
(almost $1 million in today's dollars) of interest charges. The
unsold units were put into Killington's rental program, and the net
receipts helped offset the interest and other carrying charges.
At the same time, Killington CEO Pres Smith studied what was
happening at Vail and Aspen. He determined that at Vail net profits
lagged in spite of greatly increased real estate revenues, but that
Aspen fared better with its revenues generated by its ski
Hit with the increased costs of operating in 1973 and 1974, Smith
saw that Killington could nevertheless make a profit from its ski
and snow operations. Although real estate sales stagnated, rentals
and property-management revenues continued to increase.
Commenting at the 1974 Annual Meeting on what he saw as "an
undesirable problem with real estate development as a source of ski
company revenues," Smith indicated that Killington would now look
to the recurring sources of real-estate revenues (rentals and
management services) but not to sales and construction of their own
projects. From this point on, Killington would leave real estate
development to others.
This deliberate change was founded on the desire to produce a
steady stream of revenues and delete the risks inherent in the real
estate development field. As such it echoed an important company
objective - to build a record of consistency and dependability not
only on the ski trails but also in terms of overall business
This is a key factor in understanding why a Killington Village
Center was never completed under S-K-I Ltd. leadership. But who can
argue with operating one of this country's most successful ski
enterprises? Still, the intention was to complete the village.
Looking a bit deeper into history we can see why that goal was
Smith felt Killington had demonstrated to area developers that
condominiums would sell and could be profitable. So the decision
was made to have different developers build within the village.
(The 1968 Master Plan suggested that different architectural styles
would produce a more aesthetically pleasing village.)
So after 1977 Killington's policy was to sell or lease land in
the 400-acre village to private developers. The Killington
Architectural Review Board enabled management to maintain control
of village aesthetics while also determining the types of buildings
- hotels, condominiums, lodges - and timetable for
A major step in the development of the originally conceived
Killington Village Center came with the first hotel, the Mountain
Inn, built (1977) on land leased from Killington by developers Bob
Montgomery and Jack Donnelly (opened 1978).
In 1979, in response to the growth of destination resorts in
Colorado and elsewhere and the trend of vacation home purchases,
Vermont Governor Richard Snelling urged ski areas to build villages
with slopeside housing and amenities like sports centers, shops,
and restaurants so the state could compete. Vermont had gone from
skier visits that were even with Colorado in 1969 to well behind in
1979, from the number-one ski state to number three in the nation.
The resulting 1980s' condo boom brought slopeside accommodations to
many mountains and prosperity to some while others got into
In 1982, Killington had developed a new master plan and pursued
disposal of treated wastewater for its proposed Village Center
which required a C-Zone in a nearby river. It was granted, but
opponents successfully appealed, so it wasn't until a July 1990
Supreme Court ruling that upheld the permit that the plan could
However, during the 4.5-year delay, the economy had soured in
1989, and by 1990 a severe recession had set in. Without a
developer to build the Village Center, Killington attention went
Next week we'll look at how this missed opportunity changed
Killington's direction and place in history, once again.