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With cost estimate nearing $50M, fundraising key for new Summit House

An imagined "bird's-eye view" above Pikes Peak shows the future Summit House Visitor Center and parking lot. The cog train is on the right. The rendering was made available by the city-led design team. Design goals include fitting the complex into the mountain and making it energy-conscious.
Rendering by Skyline Ink Animators & Illustrators
At the October public meeting on plans for a new Pikes Peak Summit House, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers observed that “we have a big fundraising challenge in front of us.”
       As 2017 begins, that situation has not changed, according to leaders of the effort to replace the facility that's stood atop the peak for over half a century.
       As Suthers noted then, the estimated overall cost is $45-50 million. “We have a sense where half of that will come from,” he said at that time.
       The mayor did not offer details, but a fundraising breakdown was provided in a recent Westside Pioneer e-mail exchange with Jack Glavan, manager of Pikes
During the presentation portion of the Summit House Visitor Center open house Oct. 18, 2016, Stuart Coppedge (left), holds a cake that he and others from the design team presented as a surprise to Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, whose birthday was that day. Earlier, Suthers had noted that the Summit House fundraising effort was roughly halfway toward an overall goal of about $50 million to pay for the project. As the mayor blew out the candles, some wag in the audience commented, "he just wished for 25 million dollars."
Westside Pioneer photo
Peak-America's Mountain (PPAM), the city enterprise that manages the Pikes Peak Highway and the Summit House.
       PPAM is ready to provide $10 million from its fund balance, and there is a “bonding potential” of $10-15 million,” he said. Being sought is $30 million in private contributions that “could come from individuals, corporations, foundations, etc.”
       To address that money gap, PPAM is paying an Ohio company (the Benefactor Group) $61,000 to “complete a fundraising feasibility study as well as develop a fundraising campaign strategy,” Glavan added. The study is to be completed in late spring.
       Regarding construction, Summit House supporters had previously hoped that at least preliminary aspects could occur in 2017, but that is still up in the air. In answering that question, Glavan reiterated the point about funding availability; he also noted the currently uncertain time frame for the city's environmental assessment (EA) application to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
       The USFS "needs to complete formal consultations with the State Historic
A comparison chart created by the design team shows the anticipated reductions in water and wastewater totals, as a result of the technology that is to be built into the new Summit House Visitor Center. The word "trips" refers to how many times trucks need to go down the mountain to pick up fresh water or dispose of wastewater.
Courtesy of Summit House design team
Preservation Office and the National Park Service before releasing the EA to the public for review and comment,” Glavan explained. “After the public comment period, the USFS will complete and approve the final EA. We do not have an exact date for these steps to be completed.”
       In the meantime, the project contractor, G.E. Johnson, is looking at “various scheduling scenarios to determine how much work could be completed during our limited construction season based upon different potential start dates," he said.
      Regardless of funding availability, “if the EA isn't completed before the end of summer, then the project would most likely be delayed until next year," he elaborated.
       The current Summit House Visitor Center, dating back to the early 1960s, consists of multiple buildings that have shown signs of aging, project officials have said. Handling roughly 600,000 visitors annually from the Pikes Peak Highway, the cog railway and the Barr Trail, the facility is operated as a City of Colorado Springs enterprise by PPAM, under a special use permit from the USFS.
Two members of consulting firms with the Summit House Visitor Center design team answer questions about posters on display during the open house in the Colorado Springs City Auditorium Oct. 18, 2016. Halley Fehner (left), is a content developer with History Associates, Inc.; and Greg Matty (talking) is with Gallagher & Associates, a museum planning and design firm. Both consultants are involved in developing the interpretive content of the future Summit House exhibits.
Westside Pioneer photo
The current replacement effort started in 2015, led by the City of Colorado Springs. Partnering with the city - and contributing funds - are the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army and Colorado Springs Utilities, which have at the summit (respectively) a high-altitude lab and a communications facility.
       The overall intent is to build a complex that would be functional and energy-conscious while fitting in aesthetically with its summit location.
       Initial construction estimates ranged between $20 million and $50 million. The higher end has emerged since G.E. Johnson was hired in the past year and began taking closer looks at the complexities involved in building more than 14,000 feet above sea level, including issues of permafrost, heavy snow and winds up to 195 mph.
       Integrated into the design are various technologies and techniques aimed at conserving energy and water. “It will not be an energy hog and it will last a long, long time,” summarized Stuart Coppedge of RTA Architects, one of the design consultants, at the October meeting.
       The environmental push includes an application for an international sustainability certification. Attaining such “green” levels will add to the cost, but no more than $1 million, Glavan estimated.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/25/17; Projects: Summit House)

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