Copper Mountain Resort floats proposal for new boutique hotel, housing in coming years

Kevin Fixler
Summit Daily
A map shows the site of the proposed A-Lift Neighborhood at Copper Mountain Resort west of Frisco. A reimagined version of the development comprises 50-room hotel, 10,000-square-foot conference center and a blend of market-rate housing.
Courtesy Continuum Partners |

The look and variety of offerings at Copper Mountain Resort could be changing considerably in the next five yeas, and the development of a new neighborhood near the Alpine Lift on the ski area’s east side may very well be at the forefront of its transformation.

During a Tuesday afternoon work session with Summit’s Board of County Commissioners, the resort and county staff each laid out the early stages of a forthcoming application with a 50-room hotel featuring a restaurant, bar and spa, and approximately 10,000-square-foot conference center as its key fixtures. The proposed $30 million project at the site of the Powdr Corp-owned resort’s existing Triple Treat parking lot would also include a blend of nearby for-sale housing, in addition to a three-level underground parking area and small snack station for skiers and golfers, depending on the season.

“This has been an exciting project for us to work on,” said Gary Rodgers, the resort’s president and COO. “We think this is an important part of the overall economic model for the resort, but by no means the only thing we’re planning to do.”

While still in its conceptual phase, the development has an ambitious goal of breaking ground as early as next spring. Should the A-Lift Neighborhood receive the necessary county rezoning approvals in the next six-to-eight months, it could hypothetically hit that mark en route to an estimated two-year project completion once shovels are in the ground.

The undertaking is a joint business venture between Utah-based Powdr, which has owned Copper since 2009, in addition to other ski areas across the country such as Killington in Vermont and Mount Bachelor in Oregon, and real estate developer Continuum Partners. Among others, the Denver-based group has previously overseen projects like the reimagining of Union Station as the capital city’s transportation hub and the Belmar entertainment district in Lakewood.

The A-Lift Neighborhood is presently zoned for 12 single-family homes, each up to 2,500 square feet, or 30 duplex equivalents spanning 3 acres of land. Aside from the boutique hotel and attached conference center, the new design would comprise 15 condos, eight duplexes and three single-family homes across an additional 5 acres, and require alteration to the Copper Creek Golf Course — specifically shortening and realigning the 15th hole.

As presented, the application would request nearly doubling the area’s height restriction, from 35 feet to 65 feet for the hotel. The condos, which would also act as part of the hotel stock when not occupied by their owners, would stand at 55 feet, and the duplexes and single-family dwellings would remain at 35 feet.

Tuesday was the first chance for the three-member county board to see the new vision of the A-Lift Neighborhood and provide feedback. Beyond those potential visual impacts, the commissioners and county staff both raised concerns over the effects to wetlands on what is considered private open space land and the purpose of the three high-priced homes situated on steep slopes.

“I love the idea of this,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “I’m not so comfortable with the wetlands impacts and question the value of those single-family lots. I guess those would have to sell for a lot.”

Connectivity issues for pedestrians, bicyclists and shuttle services within the property had yet to be hashed out in the preliminary proposal. Questions about commuter safety and access points to the area, most likely off the State Highway 91, operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation, are still unsettled for now as well.

The meeting functioned as the project’s official public unveiling, too, and the reception was mixed among the Copper Mountain residents in attendance who commented. Critics of the project underscored the possible environmental worries and uncertainty for how it might impact the adjacent Colorado Trail, while some noted the probable marketing for the hotel as ski-in, ski-out off the Alpine Lift would be misleading because the two-person chair is the resort’s oldest and only services black-diamond expert terrain.

Others, meanwhile, were optimistic the development could enrich the Copper community as a whole and be part of a longer-term stimulus to draw more people and opportunities to the resort in the ever-competitive ski industry market. Rodgers agreed, stating the A-Lift Neighborhood was never envisioned as a main portal to the resort, but rather a unique offshoot, and is the first of several new collaborative commercial and residential developments just down the road.

“It’s easy to have ideas,” said Rodgers. “To get them to contract — especially the financing in the mountain communities is a challenge — but we think we’ve got the right development partners, not only here but elsewhere in the resort.”

In an unrelated item on the commissioners’ Tuesday agenda, the privately owned Lodge at Breckenridge, located off Overlook Drive in the Upper Blue Basin, received unanimous approval Tuesday to transition roughly 7,000 square feet of under-utilized recreational space into 14 more rooms and two “dorm-style” employee units — the latter of which will contain five bedrooms for up to six workers. The complex, which currently maintains 45 rooms, was built in 1968 and the partial redevelopment of the property was branded as a modernization of the inn.