(PIKES PEAK) – According to the City of Colorado Springs, more than 498,000 people visited the top of Pikes Peak in 2017, meaning nearly 500,000 people also visited the summit house atop America’s Mountain.
The City of Colorado Spring is now acting on plans to build a new facility, much larger than the current structure, which was built years ago.
“What we’re doing is right-sizing the summit house,” commented Jack Glavan, the manager of Pikes Peak and head of the summit complex project.
It’s a renovation and construction project, that has been long dreamt about, “Since I can remember,” Glavan said.
In 2018, the dream will begin the process of becoming reality. The city said it hopes to have planning and assessments completed in March, However, the project needs another $25 million to begin construction. It hopes to raise that money will be raised during a fundraising effort that’s expected to kickoff in March.
“When everything looks good for construction, we’ll start that process. So we think we have about $25 million ready to go. The current estimate is about $50 million, so fundraising about $25 million,” Glavan said.
If money is raised, construction could start as soon as June 1, 2018. Right now, there are no plans to increase the prices for cars to drive up the mountain.
The structure is planned to be about 37,000 square feet, with much of that square footage devoted to a viewing area.
The U.S. Forest Service is currently conducting an environmental assessment and hosting talks with various groups, including native tribes, about the project’s advancement.
“There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes,” said Glavan.
The project is anticipated to finish up in the summer or fall of 2020, even with the difficulties of transporting materials up the mountain and building at high altitude.
“When you’re building up at 14,000 feet, you have the challenges of location.”
With those challenges, the management team for the project is considering offering a shuttle service option for visitors, which would start as voluntary if construction starts this summer. As the project moves into its advanced stages, and could possibly be mandatory for visitors in 2019 until construction is complete.
When the summit house is completed, Glavan said the project could increase traffic up the mountain.
“Yeah, it could definitely draw more people from out of state to come sip a coffee at 14,000 feet looking out the window,” commented one visitor.
And management hopes people will be able to continue looking out those same windows for a long, long time.
“The goal is to make that building last, another 50 years or so,” Glavan said.
(Video courtesy of the City of Colorado Springs and RTA Architects/GWWO Architects)