Monday, October 20, 2008
Hidden Valley: Luxury Homesites or Ski Resort?
There's a showdown unfolding in the upscale West County suburb of Wildwood. The owner of the Hidden Valley ski area is threatening to close down the resort if he is unable to work out some issue with local government.
I'm not familiar with all the facts of the case, but from news reports, the owner doesn't like something going on in Wildwood, whether its high taxes or other local regulation, so he's talking about shutting the resort down altogether.
I've never skied at Hidden Valley, and have heard mixed reviews of the place. So one time, I checked it out, just to see it in person. The ski area is in the middle of a high priced housing development, more like a private golf and country club than a ski resort. In fact, during the summers, Hidden Valley is a golf course.
The homes around Hidden Valley must approach a million dollars in sales prices. They are large, estate-styled homes, with large wooded lots and lots of stone and brick. Narrow roads lead through the development, until you reach the entrance to the ski area. The ski area feels authentic, with a cozy lodge, and lots of people bundled up in ski wear. From inside the lodge, you don't feel like you're in St. Louis at all. A ski lodge in St. Louis? Yes, indeed.
But maybe not much longer? Wildwood officials do not want the popular attraction to close, so it appears the owner has some room for negotiation with the city. However, if Wildwood offers an incentive to Hidden Valley, will other Wildwood businesses seek the same assistance?
The owner has another option. The land under Hidden Valley is valuable. Presumably the site could be developed with more luxury homes. Luxury homes or a local ski resort? If you're a West County resident, which is you're preference?