Bronco Billy’s $300 million Expansion Project Granted Another Permit Extension

Chamonix Outdoor Parking Lot and Drainage Cited as Main Stumbling Block

Rick Langenberg

The Chamonix casino and hotel, Bronco Billy’s much touted $300 million expansion that actually had its genesis in 2018, is nearing the finish line as far completing all necessary building and infrastructure improvements for a final sign-off from the city.

But the timing is a little too tight to meet a forthcoming July 15 deadline to comply with the specific street vacation requirements and in completing remaining portions of the project.

As a result, the city council at its May 15 regular meeting unanimously decided to grant the owners of Bronco Billy’s, Full House Resorts, another extension.  The latest one, though, is only good for six months.

To date, the Chamonix project has received a slew of extensions.  And city officials have approved these with little hesitation due to the magnitude of the work that has occurred, and with the remaining infrastructure improvements and additions that must get completed in order to receive a permanent certificate of occupancy designation.

If the city didn’t act, then it would be forced to take back a major thoroughfare and alleyway that it had earlier surrendered to allow the project, the biggest lodging and expansion ever proposed in Cripple Creek’s history, to move forward.

The decision was described by city officials as pretty much a no-brainer unless it wanted to retake these roadways.  One of these includes a good portion of Second Avenue.

Full House officials have stated that the main hold-up is drainage work and details associated with the project’s outdoor parking lot. At issue is a drainage and infrastructure study the gaming company has sought to fully address these issues. This would be handled by the company’s engineers and the findings would be shared with the city.

At their most recent meeting, the council was advised to grant another extension.  City Administrator Frank Salvato cautioned against forcing the company to move forward without completing a necessary drainage study. He indicated this  could provide quite a risk for Full House Resorts

In a letter sent to the city, Bronco Billy’s stressed the benefits of the project to the city and just asked for more time to get the necessary work completed.

“I hope that the city and city council are pleased with Chamonix,” said Baxter Lee, general manager of Bronco Billy’s, in a letter submitted to the city, prior to their May 15 session. “It has been a challenge to build a project of this magnitude and this quality in the post-pandemic world, but we are now nearing the finish line. The most obvious, uncompleted part of the project is the surface parking lots, which are yet to have curbs, landscaping, storm sewers and appropriate lighting. We appreciate that the city has allowed us to use these as-is on a temporary basis and we are eager to complete them as they are designed, bringing them up to the quality of the property itself.”

Lee also cited some future aspects of the project that have not been completed yet.  “Although we have opened and are accommodating guests, we are also still completing some aspects of the interior of Chamonix, notably the spa, the employee dining area, the speakeasy bar and the jewelry store. We are confident that we can complete everything in the second half of the year, which should satisfy the requirements for the Certificate of Occupancy. We are suggesting a new target completion date of January 15, 2025, so as to leave some cushion in the timeline and not have a potential issue during the Christmas holiday period,” he added in his letter.

No problem, replied the council at their most recent meeting, in promptly granting this request. But can you tone down the temporary parking lot lights so they don’t impact adjoining neighborhoods so much? This was the only concern registered by the elected leaders during the Bronco Billy’s permit extension hearing.

Lee assured the council these issues would definitely get addressed as it makes the current lot more permanent.

Based on Lee’s letter, there are still some issues regarding infrastructure-related permit fees that need to get ironed out, with mention made to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

But immediately following the May 15 meeting, the Billy’s general manager cited the outdoor parking lot as the main stumbling block to meet the July 15 deadline. He said all other aspects of the project are moving ahead quite well.

Master Plan Moving Forward

In another big development issue, the city is moving forward with a $300,000 master plan project, officially called a comprehensive plan update.

The city is well behind the suggested timeline for updating this plan. The city has set a June date for requests for two proposals regarding key phases of the master plan, including an economic development and tourism study aimed at revving up the town’s engines as a destination area; and a strategic plan that would update the city’s codes and zoning. Both plans would work together with the goal of giving the city a roadmap for the next decade.

But the first one (the economic development and tourism plan), is being funded mostly by Dan Lee, chief executive officer of the Full House Resorts, which is investing $100,000 into the project.

City leaders have indicated they want to move full-speed with the project, which will only cost taxpayers about $11,000, with most of the project’s estimated $300,000 in costs for the master plan coming from grants and donations. No shortage of consultants will be on hand to direct the city through this effort.

According to their proposed schedule, a draft plan for both phases would be due in late September.  The entire process, though, is expected to take at least a year.