GMF Firehouse Development Project Clears First Hurdle

A historic revival. The rebirth of the old firehouse building in Green Mountain Falls, which is being converted into an events venue as part of a re-development project, passed its first major regulatory hurdle last week. The GMF Planning Commission gave the go-ahead for two variance requests, submitted by property owner Sheri Hopper. A final hearing will be held on March 1 before the GMF Board of Trustees.

New Events Center May Open This Summer

Rick Langenberg

Plans for revitalizing the old fire station building in Green Mountain Falls, as part of a bold effort to turn the historic structure into a two-story events venue and community hub, have cleared their first major hurdle.

Last week, the GMF Planning Commission signaled the green light and agreed on several variances for the nearly 8,000-square-foot project, proposed by Sherri Hopper and her daughter, Alex Hopper. It is being referred to as the Firehouse Development.

The project plans will now fall into the hands of the GMF Board of Trustees on March 1. “Everything is set to move forward,” said Nate Scott, the GMF clerk and treasurer.

In fact, no opposition was expressed by any residents or adjacent neighbors at last week’s hearing. And the planers easily granted approval for the variances and indicated much support for the venture, which has captured considerable attention in the last few weeks with the placement of old bricks onto the building and initial construction efforts. The building is located next to the lake on Ute Pass Avenue, in the downtown district.

“People are going to stay in town,” said Sherri Hopper, when addressing the commission last week, in describing the benefits of the project. Both she and Scott agreed that the development should generate much revenue for the town.

“We really want this to be part of the community,” said Hopper. She said they plan to partner with other local business, like the Black Bear Distillery, located directly across the street from the firehouse building.

But in order for the project to move forward, the property owners need to receive two variances from the town of GMF, dealing with the minimum space required for a commercial building in the business district and the parking regulations. In both matters, the Firehouse Development fell short of the current codes.

Scott, though, conceded that with current projects being planned in GMF, the 10,000-square-foot minimum requirement will probably be changed.

As for the parking regulations, the staff believes that plenty of local parking will  be available.  And with the town’s paid-parking system, he noted this could provide more revenue for the town.

The Hoppers, who also own a number of short-term rental properties in town, including the Lake Side Cottages, plan to shuttle guests from many of their units to the firehouse venue.

If  the construction proceeds on schedule and the project clears all regulatory hurdles, the firehouse venue could  open later this summer, according to Sherri Hopper.

Both she and her daughter are realtors in Colorado Springs, who have ties with the community.

Hopper believes the project could be ideal for wedding receptions, reunions and other gatherings and community events.

“The plan is to turn the building into an event center for boutique weddings or events. The façade will  be a brick front and stucco on the other three sides. The glass garage doors have already been installed. Eventually, we will have a local artist to create a mural featuring landscapes unique to Colorado,” stated Sherri Hopper, in a letter to the commission.

Other plans for the building include a rooftop bar, and playing off the firehouse theme, with possibly a fire truck-like bar assembly. The building will house two main event areas, with an open area in the main section and a staging area upstairs.

Following last week’s meeting, the Hoppers expressed much excitement about the project. “We really want the building to look historic,” said Alex Hopper.  She said they have changed some of the original plans that looked too much like an “Old Chicago”-like structure.

They hope to do more with Victor Matthews, owner of Black Bear Distillery, with the featuring of signature cocktails, for certain events. And they can offer lodging at a number of their neighboring properties. The Hoppers own 14 short-term rentals and can lodge 76 people, according to a letter sent to the GMF Planning commissioners.

The project proponents see this as a way to bring the community together more and to tie in with some of the new projects planned in town, and to make GMF more into a destination hub.

“The reaction we have had so far has been outstanding.  People want to know when we are going to open,”’ said Sherri Hopper.