Edney and O’Brien: New performing arts center a boon for Silverthorne (column)
Special to the Daily
For more than 20 years, the development of a recognizable downtown core in Silverthorne has been studied, discussed and researched “ad nauseam” with little to show. In response to several town-wide surveys in recent years, the council and staff of the town have been working diligently to put in place the necessary tools, including rezoning, to enable the development of a lively and pedestrian-friendly downtown.
Every successful downtown development requires a catalyst of quality and recognizable value to a town’s residents. So in 2013 when the opportunity emerged to form a partnership with The Lake Dillon Theatre Company (LDTC), the town council, staff and residents enthusiastically embraced it, leading to the concept of the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, with the theater being the core component.
What are the benefits to the town of this project?
• LDTC is a statewide and nationally-recognized, professional live theater company. It is very well-managed — both artistically and operationally — and supported by an enthusiastic and dedicated board and patrons across the county and Front Range. It creates a cultural anchor to bring significant additional identity and sense of place to Silverthorne.
• The Performing Arts Center is not just about live theater but will provide opportunities for many arts and culturally-related activities including musical performances (for example, the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival would love to have a local “home”), dance and practice studios, educational workshops for children’s programs and, later, outdoor concerts and movies in a wonderful setting adjacent to the Blue River.
• Patrons spend money; the center would generate revenue in its own right by attracting people to town, eating in local restaurants, overnight stays in local hotels and shopping in the outlet stores.
• Of enormous longer term significance is the catalyst effect of such a facility in “kick-starting” downtown development. The center will provide an anchor to the whole downtown concept and already, since the formal announcement of the partnership to construct the Performing Arts Center, the town has seen more than $21 million of private investment, with more in the pipeline. The town has also seen a significant increase in interest from potential developers who recognize that the town is serious about creating a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly core.
Turning to costs: There has been some misunderstanding about the cost to the town and possible negative effects on other important projects. After the contribution of some $2.7 million by LDTC, the town will contribute approximately $6.3 million, of which $4.5 million will be funded by debt. To the best of our knowledge, no other projects — such as the completion of the bike path or exploration of workforce housing opportunities — have been put on hold. On the latter, the town has spent $3.7 million on purchasing land at Smith Ranch, which is designated for workforce housing. In addition, Section 5A funding is available on an ongoing basis.
Over the years, the town has shown great vision and foresight in providing residents with excellent facilities, such as the Recreation Center and the Pavilion. The Performing Arts Center is in line with this tradition. The center provides not just a wonderful addition to the arts and cultural aspirations of the town but acts as the catalyst, finally, for the building of a real downtown core which all the citizens of Silverthorne will be able to enjoy for generations to come.
Brian Edney lives in Silverthorne. Eddie O’Brien resides in Hamilton Creek.
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