Q & A

Q & A

What makes this plan to build a performing arts center different from the prior attempts?

First it is important to understand the history of this project. There have been two previous attempts by community leaders and supporters that helped pave the way.

  • First Attempt: “Friends of Stanley Hall” (FOSH) was formed to generate financial support to renovate a facility at The Stanley Hotel to provide a performance space for Estes Valley performing arts groups estimated to be 18 in number. The fund raising goal was not being achieved in a timely manner and the project was abandoned. The approximately $500,000 raised from 265 individual donors, was turned over to the Town of Estes Park who would serve as fiduciary until a replacement project was developed.
  • Second Attempt:“The Supporters of the Performing Arts” (SOPA) was formed to raise funds for a more sophisticated performing arts center to be built on land provided by the Town of Estes Park.  This project was to be built by the Town, managed by the Town, and funded primarily from donations. While providing performing space for the local groups was paramount, the plans also focused on attracting some nationally acclaimed presentations.Approximately $250,000 in cash was raised and $675,000 in pledges was received from over 600 individual donors and foundations.  After this effort stalled, there was consensus that the location provided by the Town turned out to be controversial and the dominant role that the Town required was not widely embraced and the SOPA organization’s operational rack record was not engendering confidence from the philanthropic community.
  • The New Approach.  Estes Performance, Inc. (EPIC) evolved and created a new direction.  A new Board of Trustees was formed replacing the SOPA Trustees.  EPIC has merged with SOPA and the SOPA Trustees now participate as non-voting adjunct trustees. EPIC is an organization devoted to making “The Rocky” a reality and here’s how:
  • Self-sustaining Business Model.  They developed a self-sustaining business model, including a 501©(3) and L.L.C. relationship that will serve as a national model for other communities to obtain a financially sustainable performing arts facility. EPIC will raise the funds for the total facility, operate the performing arts center and own 80% of the L.L.C. which will allow EPIC to collect tax-free annual, passive, rental income for the LLC. With its non-profit focus and unique structure, it is expected that the EPIC Board of Trustees will attract and be populated by major philanthropists who invest in this project. This broad scope will change the fund raising program from being locally based to being nationally based.  The expanded business plan, while continuing to serve the needs of all the local community performing arts groups, now focuses on presenting a significant amount of nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.

Self-sustaining Business Model. They developed a self-sustaining business model, including a 501(c)(3) and L.L.C. relationship that will serve as a national model for other communities to obtain a financially sustainable performing arts facility. EPIC will raise the funds for the total facility, operate the performing arts center and own 80% of the L.L.C. which will allow EPIC to collect tax-free annual, passive, rental income for the LLC.

With its non-profit focus and unique structure, it is expected that the EPIC Board of Trustees will attract and be populated by major philanthropists who invest in this project. This broad scope will change the fund raising program from being locally based to being nationally based.  The expanded business plan, while continuing to serve the needs of all the local community performing arts groups, now focuses on presenting a significant amount of nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.

How is profitability handled in this business model?

The Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center will be managed and operated through the formation of a limited liability company (LLC).  The LLC will serve as a dynamic endowment, relieving EPIC from the need to operate the facility while providing it with a preferential return of 5% of the value of the real property and construction costs.This dynamic endowment will provide for ingoing financial support of the performing arts center and its programs.  If there are excess profits after commitments are made to EPIC, operating expenses are paid, and the capital reserve is funded, then 80% of the excess is paid to EPIC and 20% may be paid to the three member management group of the retail complex.

The site is without controversy.  EPIC has received a pledge in the form of a Gift Annuity essentially transferring the Park Mall Theater site ($2,300,000) located in the center of town for the location of a performing arts center.  The location in midtown is privately owned and donated by Sharon and Robert Seeley.  The land was donated by the current owners, contingent upon EPIC reaching certain milestones of its fundraising campaign prior to March 2014. The new complex will be built in the 100 block of East Elkhorn at the previous location of the Park Theater Mall.  It will cover the entire footprint of the vacant lots extending from Elkhorn, crossing Fall River, and on to Rockwell Street. The construction and operation will be provided by private, professional management.
– For History of the property please click here to learn more.

Town Position: Two other locations have been considered for the performing arts center. Originally, the Town of Estes Park and the Supporters of the Performing Arts (SOPA) partnered to build the theater at the Fairgrounds at Stanley Park once SOPA completed fundraising. In 2011, an alternate location was suggested at the Elkhorn Lodge property, as part of the proposed Elkhorn Adventure project. Both of these options have now been set aside in favor of the new proposed downtown location at the Park Theater Mall site. The Town of Estes Park will proceed with utilizing the Stanley Park location for fairgrounds-related redevelopment.

Community Impact: The Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center will provide a central gathering place and shared experience that will enrich the lives of both residents and visitors of Estes Park. In addition to attracting national performances, this project will provide local performing arts groups with both immediate and long-term financial support to help finance their need to rent performance space. The state-of-the art theater will be more than just a facility, it will also offer local artists a resource for professional lighting, sound, concession, staffing, and ticket sales support. The cache of Estes Park and attraction of The Rocky Mountain National Park provide every opportunity for the Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center to take its place among similar communities, such as, Aspen, Vail, Saratoga Springs, etc..  The plans call for a state-of-art facility designed to rival any performing arts center in the country.  The professional management team will lead this Center to national prominence through creative programming and the hosting of major meetings and seminars.

Who is Estes Performance Incorporated (EPIC)?

EPIC is an organization devoted to making “The Rocky” a reality. The donated property is large enough to allow for a commercial area to complement the performing arts center. By developing a self-sustaining business model, including a 501c(3) non-profit (The Rocky) and a Limited Liability Corporation, (the commercial component), EPIC’s plan will serve as a national model for other communities who strive to create a financially sustainable performing arts facility. EPIC will raise the funds necessary for the total facility; operate the performing arts center and own 80% of the L.L.C., which in turn will allow EPIC to collect tax-free annual, passive, rental income to support the 501c)(3).

Who are the key players for Estes Performance Incorporated (EPIC)?

Estes Performance Incorporated (EPIC) is currently managed by the following Board members:

Stanton Black, President
Bob Gunn, Vice President
Jerry Rutledge, Vice President
Dick Zellner, Secretary & Executive Director
Tom Dority, Treasurer
Curt Gleaves, Assistant Secretary
Teresa Maria Widawski, Assistant Treasurer
Jim Pickering

The former SOPA trustees are expected to still participate as non-voting adjunct trustees.

When will construction begin?

No later than September 2014.

Will the River Walk continue through the complex?

The river will run through the structure and allow for completion of the final segment of the river walk.  Even though the river walk will pass through the new building’s atrium, it will be open for public use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Town will be offered an easement along the river to allow it and the public access to the full river.  The Town may decide to improve the river through this area.

Where will parking be located?

Remote parking facilities will be serviced by the Fairgrounds Park-n-Ride.

What companies are getting the construction contracts?

No contracts for construction have been awarded; however, EPIC is using Roger Thorp as the design architect, with input from Hensel Phelps Construction Company during the predevelopment planning and cost estimating.

How much is the complex going to cost?

The capital campaign for the Rocky Mountain performing Arts Center has
targeted $20 million as the fundraising goal. The funds will be driven through:

  • The Supporters of the Performing Arts (SOPA).
  • Individual gifts and donations.
  • A gift annuity that essentially transfers the Park Mall Theater site.

What is the complex going to cost the Town?

This is a private development with no cost to the Town for development or ongoing operation.

Who is investing in the complex?

With the new LLC structure for the Performing Arts Center project, it is expected that the EPIC Board of Trustees will attract and major philanthropists who invest in this project.

What benefit will this have for Estes Park?

We believe that this project is one of the biggest economic development and urban redevelopment projects to come to Estes Park in many years.  The project will directly benefit the Town through increased sales tax revenues from the creation of retail space and increase in the business of neighboring properties, particularly in the winter and shoulder seasons. This will provide local performing arts groups with both immediate and long-term financial support to help finance their need to rent performance space.

The state-of-the art theater will be more than just a facility, it will offer local artists a resource for professional lighting, sound, concession, staffing, and ticket sales support.  The expanded business plan, while continuing to serve the needs of all the local community performing arts groups, now focuses on presenting a significant amount of nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.  This will elevate the community’s cultural exposure and hopefully enrich the lives of those that live in Estes Park, as well as those who are visiting.

What does this mean for other downtown businesses?

The downtown location will be a magnet attracting an upscale clientele that businesses will want to target.  It will also bring a significant number of “cultural tourists” who may not have otherwise been attracted to the Town.

When is the complex set to open?

Spring 2016

What is specifically going to be included in the complex?

Current plans call for The Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center to include a state-of-the-art performing arts theater, retail shops, a restaurant, and a covered winter garden area permitting year-round outdoor dining.  The professional management team will lead this Center to national prominence through creative programming, and the hosting of major meetings and seminars.

What type of performances will take place at the theater?

We anticipate a mix of local performing arts groups and a significant amount of nationally and internationally known performers.

Who is expected to patronize the complex?

A mix of local residents, vacationers and cultural tourists, certainly representing a diverse cross-section of people but ones who would fit well with the traditional image of Estes Park.