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Hines has big-time plans for Big Mountain resort

WHITEFISH, Mont. — Hines Resorts, the lodging division of Houston-based Hines, has been tapped to develop a $300 million base village at Big Mountain Ski & Summer Resort in Whitefish, Mont. The mixed-use development, which will be called Glacier Village at Big Mountain, will be constructed in approximately eight phases over the next eight to 12 years.

Plans call for the construction of at least one hotel, and 700 residential and lodging units. The village also will feature 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a 20,000 sq. ft. conference center, condominiums and townhomes.

Bob Daniel, vice president of Hines Resorts, said the company hopes to decide on a brand for the 100- to 125-room hotel within nine months.

Hines Resorts will purchase property for the project from Whitefish-based Winter Sports Inc. With construction of the base village, Winter Sports plans to turn Big Mountain into a four-season resort.

Hines Resorts is no stranger to developing huge resort projects containing a mix of luxury hotels, condominiums, townhomes, stores and restaurants. In the 1990s, the company developed four projects in Colorado — River Valley Ranch, Aspen Highlands Village, Five Trees and Zephyr Mountain Lodge.

Daniel said the only one of its Colorado projects that compares in scope to Glacier Village is Aspen Highlands Village, which includes 31 single-family homes, 32 luxury townhomes, the 73-unit Ritz-Carlton Club, 22,000 sq. ft. of restaurants and 27,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Infrastructure construction for the single-family homes and townhomes will begin this summer, while ground breaking for the condominiums is scheduled to begin in 2002. Phase I of the condominium portion of the project is expected to be completed in winter 2004.

Designed by Aspen, Colo.-based Design Workshop, the village architecture will be influenced by Glacier National Park, and Montana's ranches and historic towns. The pedestrian-scale village will have streets lined with shops and restaurants that will be open year-round. The resort is located 32 miles west of Glacier National Park and 19 miles north of Glacier International Airport.

According to Winter Sports, the recent $11.5 million renovation of Glacier Airport, a booming local real estate market and the increasing popularity of Big Mountain Resort combine to make this an ideal time to go forward with the project.

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