Winter Park, CO Feb. 10-- Winter Park Resort recently bought three parcels of land adjacent to their base area for a gondola terminal. The gondola will connect the town with the resort, much like that in Telluride.
"This is a very exciting purchase for us," said Gary DeFrange, president and CEO of Winter Park. "This transaction allows us to consider a variety of options for creating a link between the town and the resort that would improve the community's transportation while making life more convenient for our guests in town."
The idea for a gondola system to connect the resort with the nearby town has been in Winter Park's Master Plan since 1980. Results from a transportation study conducted by Sno-engineering in July 1995 showed that an alternative form of transportation was necessary to relieve traffic on US Highway 40 between town and the resort.
The 3.46 acres cost just over $1.1 million and was selected for several reasons. The site offers an excellent potential alignment with the town and the top of Cooper Creek North, it is close to existing and potential parking, and it is within walking distance of existing lodging, shops, and restaurants.
"The resort bought the land with hopes of sparking more interest in the project," said Joan Christensen, communications director for Winter Park. "Now that the resort owns the land, it will make it easier to move forward with the plan."
A timeline for the project is still undetermined, but resort officials speculate that ground could break within three to five years. The cost is estimated to be in the $20 million range.
The project is still in its very preliminary stages and cannot move forward without the proper reviews of environmental impacts, US Forest Service approval, and right-of-ways from the railroad, private landowners, and the Denver Water Board. The resort must also explore financial options for the project.
The gondola is just one of several improvements the resort is undergoing. This season, Winter Park added a base village anchored by the two building, 230-unit Zephyr Mountain Lodge that offers ski-in, ski-out condo access. An additional 100 units are slated in the near future along with other on-mountain improvements.