Hardworking Huebinger helped build region | PostIndependent.com

Hardworking Huebinger helped build region

John Huebinger stands on the balcony of his home overlooking Westbank, a subdivision he developed. It was only one of many developments he had a hand in across Colorados resort region.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Look around Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Snowmass and Vail, for that matter and the results of John Huebingers career as an architect, builder and developer are everywhere.Huebinger, 72, developed the Westbank subdivision and golf course south of Glenwood Springs, and built the shopping center at the base of the Colorado Mountain College turnoff on Highway 82.And back in 1981, when the concept of quick lubes was not even a concept, Huebinger created the Pit Stop, Glenwood Springs first express oil change, and later, the Rifle Super Lube in Rifle. In Vail and Aspen, Huebingers accomplishments are even more vast. As one of the original founders of Vail, hes responsible for building dozens of lodges, condominiums and private homes.And in Aspen, Huebinger was the man behind the Aspen Square, the Silver King apartments (now known as Hunter Creek condominiums), and dozens of private homes. In Snowmass Village, Huebinger was on the ground floor in the 60s, building many of the core inns and condominiums there. But it would be hard to know that Huebinger has created so many familiar landmarks. Huebinger refers to himself instead as just an old country boy from Texas.From a young ageHuebinger was born in Marion, Texas, population 300, circa 1933 a long way from developing ski resorts, businesses and housing subdivisions in the mountains of western Colorado. From a young age, Huebinger was an entrepreneur. I was always trying to figure out a way to make a nickel, Huebinger said.Quite literally, that is. As a boy, Huebinger set up bowling pins by hand for 10 cents an hour at the local bowling alley.Id make 50 or 55 cents on a good night, he said with a grin. After high school, Huebinger spent a couple years roughnecking in the Texas oil fields and joined the U.S. Army before getting a degree in architecture from Texas A&M. After college, young Huebinger, married to his wife, Dolores, and with a growing family, found himself in Colorado. After hooking up with a Houston contractor who was part of a new ski resort development called Vail, he oversaw construction of the Vail Village Inn in 1962. The Huebinger family stayed in Vail for a couple years, then headed back to Houston. But Colorado kept calling, especially when Huebinger had a business lunch with Buddy Bornefeld, a Houston developer who was working on a project in Aspen called the Aspen Alps. By the end of that lunch, we had made a deal and I was headed back to Colorado, said Huebinger. He started his own business called Aspen Construction Co., and packed up the family once again for the Rocky Mountains. From Aspen to GlenwoodFollowing the Aspen Alps project, Huebinger worked with legendary Aspen architect Fritz Benedict, developing a new resort down the road called Snowmass-at-Aspen. His company developed many of the resorts first structures such as the Stonebridge Inn, the Silvertree Hotel, the Pokolodi Lodge and the Lichenhearth condominiums. Although Huebinger was intricately involved in the ski resort business, skiing wasnt necessarily what kept him in Colorado.We skied, but Dolores stopped after she broke her leg skiing in the early 70s. I skied after that, but once I realized I was too old to qualify for the Olympics, I quit, Huebinger said with a smile. In 1968, Huebinger was inducted into the Young Presidents Organization an invitation-only international program for business leaders under 40.All the while, the couple raised five kids Sheryl, Stacy, Sonya, Shawn and Johnny III. John volunteered at the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as president for three years, and was a charter member of the Aspen Rotary Club. He also was a member of the Elks and the Eagles, and volunteered for the Western Colorado Boy and Girl Scouts. The year 1969 was a very good year for Huebinger, who at the time had 900 employees working for him. Besides all the work in Snowmass, Huebinger had projects in Aspen and Vail. He also created a subsidiary that developed an area called Pueblo West just outside Pueblo, and bought the Geiser Ranch, a 550-acre working cattle ranch outside Glenwood, for $1,000 an acre. I just started talking to Mr. Geiser one day at the local Cadillac dealership, and he told me I should come out and take a look at his ranch, Huebinger said. In 1974, the bottom dropped out of the economy, Huebinger closed all of his companies by 1976, and he and his family left Aspen and moved to Glenwood Springs. Huebinger started developing the Geiser Ranch, which he renamed Westbank, dividing the subdivision into 100 lots. He sold all of them by 1978. The upper portion, called Westbank Mesa, contained 62 lots, which were sold out by 1996. In the meantime, Huebinger built 16 houses at Westbank, got his real estate license and started his own real estate company so he could broker his own properties. His share of reunionsNow that the kids have grown and are scattered from here to California with their families, Huebinger is pretty well retired. It took me 10 years to get out of projects that took me 10 minutes to get into, he said with a laugh. Hes been involved in lots of reunions such as the 40th anniversary of Vails founders and the Aspen Volunteer Fire Departments 50th anniversary last summer. Not much can slow Huebinger down, but in 2000, he had some health problems, and in January 2001, he contracted cancer. Im all over that, he said, though in 2002, he dealt again with some health issues, but got those resolved as well.Now, he and Dolores take the occasional trip a cruise last year, and this year, Cancun is coming up.Its easy to gear up, Huebinger said, a twinkle in his eye. Its harder to gear down.Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.com

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