A Look Into 2024!

(Editor’s Note:  This week, we continue our look into key issues and events facing communities in Teller County throughout 2024. For our current issue, we examine the Cripple Creek and southern Teller area, Green Mountain Falls, sports, along with the impact of a spree of new laws).

“The Times They Are A-Changin’” in Cripple Creek.

Rick Langenberg
Nope, we don’t need a Bob Dylan cover song performance to attest to this current reality for the Teller gaming community and our infamous county seat.

Just look around and even the most unobservant visitor will notice dramatic changes, courtesy of an Ice Castles attraction that is attracting record winter crowds; the first stage of a $30 million casino hotel with the landing of the Chamonix; and red-hot housing pursuits, aimed at vastly increasing the population base. In addition, the town will take its first wager in the recreational marijuana arena, with the opening of High Stakes Leafery, located just outside the business district, this week.  Plus, the non-gaming business drums are expected to pound away later this year, with the opening of the District Saloon, and other retail and service operations.

In other words, Cripple Creek is headed for some major changes in 2024, as the town takes its first real stab at becoming a destination resort area.

The year will kick off with a new mayor, Annie Durham, taking charge of the town government. Durham, the CTE director of the Cripple Creek/Victor RE-1 School District, will become Cripple Creek’s first new mayor in some time. Durham was sworn into office on Jan. 3 during the inaugural council meeting (see related story).

The new mayor will have little time to celebration her new position, as elected leaders face a hectic scheduled, fueled by record-breaking development activity.

The city must oversee the completion of the new Chamonix Casino and Hotel, which made their initial debut recently. This $300 million project, though, still has to put the finishing touches on its grand resort-like amenities, featuring a rooftop pool, spa, a jewelry store, new deluxe steakhouse, parking enhancements and the remainder of their lineup of 300 rooms. The project, the brainchild of Dan Lee, the chief executive officer for the Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts, has a mid-July deadline for completing the bulk of their work.

The initial response has been quite favorable, as the Chamonix, named after a French resort that hosted the first-ever Winter Olympics, represents a game-changer in local development activity in Cripple Creek, according to most civic leaders. The town also must welcome its first retail marijuana dispensary, High Stakes Leafery, not to mention many more housing developments.

The city has to complete one of its most ambitious annexation pursuits, near the Mt.Pisgah Cemetery, with the Gibraltar development project, expected to provide a mini-jackpot of commercial and residential activity, action that could address the community’s housing crisis.

However, the big elephant in the room deals with the subject of infrastructure, infrastructure and infrastructure. Many of the town’s housing projects are contingent on an expanded network of water and sewer lines.  And in order to tackle this challenge, Cripple Creek must generate about $10 million-plus in grants.

To date, the town, under the reins of City Administrator Frank Salvato, has been quite successful in meeting this goal. But the prospects of planning for a new or improved wastewater treatment plant, which could run in the millions, poses the main question mark.

And 2024 could be another positive year on the special event front, as the current cadre of elected leaders are more receptive towards having more festivals, similar to past years. The big unknown deals with whether its mega event of the past, the Salute to American Veterans Rally and motorcycle ride, will return. to Cripple Creek.  The current council is much more Rally-friendly. But the main question mark persists over funding and treating all special events in an equal manner.

In any case, this winter will mark must more activity due to the addition of the Ice Castles, and a stronger cooperative attitude towards funding the Ice Fest. The city has opened up its wallet to the tune of $50,000.

At the same time, the city has to watch its spending habits. Since the advent of COVID-19, the city has suffered from depleting revenue dollars, with the gaming community operating with fewer devices and games.

All in all, 2024 will mark a busy year for Cripple Creek, with no relief in sight for those government observers who prefer a light council agenda.  Recent meetings have featured a full slate of items, mostly attributed to the hefty number of development projects. Look for this trend to continue.

And down the road in Victor, the City of Mines has captured more attention due the latest addition of the Thomas Dambo troll exhibit, Rita, the Rock Planter.  This exhibit will further accelerate Victor’s reputation as a town of unique events. Victor has recently been giving Manitou Springs a run for its money for unusual festivals. Look for this trend to continue.

Local politics could get more interesting too, as the town sports a newly-appointed mayor, Barbara Manning.

Actually, the outlook for both communities in southern Teller is positive. The big question, though, hinges on Newmont, with speculation still mounting regarding the possible sale of the giant company’s CC/V mine to finance other pursuits.