Keystone to get new year round theater

Date: Feb. 2nd, 2010
Contact: Julie Sutor at Summit Daily Phone: 970-668-4630

KEYSTONE — Keystone Resort's River Run area will soon be home to a new, year-round cultural arts center. The 7,200-square-foot building will host concerts, weddings, community events and theatrical performances.

The new facility will replace the Pavilion at Keystone, an 8,000-square-foot tent in River Run that has operated for only two or three months each summer since 2002.

Keystone resident Stephen Straight said the new facility will inject energy and activity into Keystone's main base area.

“What we lack at Keystone is a critical mass,” Straight said. “We don't have enough people walking around. We want an excuse for people to stay at Keystone when they're done skiing.”

For many years, the Keystone Neighbourhood Company (KNC) has hoped to build a permanent events facility near the gondola — next to the Silver Mill Condominiums and adjacent to the Quaking Aspen Amphitheater. But the recent economic downturn left the organization unable to come up with the estimated $8 million needed for such a project. The summer tent, however, didn't meet the community's desire for a year-round, climate-controlled facility.

As a compromise, KNC — a master homeowners association at the resort — will instead spend $1.8 million on a semi-permanent “sprung structure.” The building will have a tent-like appearance, but it will have two PVC membranes sandwiching a thick layer of insulation to keep out the cold in winter months. The facility will also feature in-floor radiant heating, restrooms, a state-of-the-art bar and removable stage. It will seat about 300 people.

“It's not as beautiful as the $8 million building will be, but it's a heck of a lot better than that tent,” said Bob Follett, president of the Snake River Community Association.

The Neighborhood Company will operate the new cultural arts center for no longer than 14 years, as it continues to raise money for a permanent building.

“We fully intend to move forward with a permanent facility as soon as we're able, but it's hard to know when that would be,” KNC executive director Tim Baker said.

The semi-permanent facility will be disassembled and could be reassembled elsewhere.

The Snake River Planning Commission approved the project Thursday night, noting that the facility does not meet the design guidelines applied to permanent buildings.

According to Baker, construction will begin as soon as the facility receives final approvals from the county's building and planning departments. The Neighbourhood Company aims to have the facility open in early July.