As of June 2018, EPIC and the Town of Estes Park have signed a memorandum of understanding to locate the Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center within Stanley Park on land donated by F.O. Stanley.
The town is commissioning a new Stanley Park master plan study which will include the addition of the performing arts complex, and is expected to recommend the specific siting. Once the revised master plan is reviewed and accepted, EPIC can move forward with finalizing the new design and cost estimates. With those components, EPIC will launch the capital campaign--now expected in early 2019.
WHY STANLEY PARK?
The EPIC board voted unanimously Nov. 21st to withdraw from negotiations for the previous proposed site at 116 E. Elkhorn Avenue in downtown Estes Park where the Park Theatre Mall burned down in 2009.
Costs to secure that property became more than the project could sustain in the short and long run. Detailed review showed that nearly 25 percent of the total cost of construction at the Elkhorn location--$8 million--would involve site preparation and structures that did not directly impact the theater building itself (e.g. required utility infrastructure, River Walk improvements, and a structure to connect the theater to Elkhorn).
EPIC convened a site selection committee comprised of local business, arts, and community leaders to identify a new building location. With the assistance of a local Realtor, they reviewed 26 potential locations in detail considering factors such as location and accessibility, size, cost, suitability for construction, existing infrastructure, flood plain, and social factors.
The proposed Stanley Park location, within an approximately 10 acre strip of the park bordering U.S. Highway 36, stood out way above other locations for its many advantages:
o Location: visible, easily accessible from downtown and Hwys 34 and 36.
o Proximity to Town Events Center and Fairgrounds and the potential to partner on events. The proposed theater complements existing facilities and offers a range of capabilities that do not currently exist. Similarly, the new site is within walking distance of Estes Park schools and the new community center.
o Lot size and the ability to include on-site parking that will also be available to augment community and Events Complex events.
o Access to existing infrastructure and a building location already well suited for construction, one that will not require expensive site preparation such as blasting and excavation or flood mitigation.
o Cost: the potential for a ground lease from the Town of Estes Park saves the project millions of dollars which in turn ensures the project is feasible, attainable, and upon construction, is sustainable.
o Availability: lot is essentially construction-ready, and executing a ground lease with the Town--perhaps similar to recent ground lease executed with the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District--offers a short term path to access to the site (in contrast with previous private property negotiations)
o Compatibility with F.O. Stanley’s vision when he gifted the property to the community of Estes Park as a public park, recreation ground, and public entertainment.
o Potential to beautify the Hwy 36 entrance into Estes Park and make a statement underscoring our position as a premier mountain community, while supporting many key outcome areas identified in the Town’s 2018 strategic plan.
o Familiarity: locating the theater within Stanley Park is not a new idea. Earlier attempts to construct a theater were based on the Town’s offer of a one acre site at the southeast corner of the Fairgrounds and was well received by the community. This new site offers all of the advantages of that previous site with additional advantages such as visibility, room for ample parking, and a newly conceived, completely flexible theater building.