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Winter Park and other Grand County interests had lobbied for decades to widen the highway. The pass had been the original highway from Denver to the Western Slope, and it was also the first Continental Divide crossing in Colorado to be kept open through winter, beginning in 1938. A ski area at Berthoud Pass and then another at Winter Park were among the first in Colorado.
But the profusion of new ski areas in the 1960s, combined with the construction of Interstate 70, combined to dull the luster of Winter Park. Summit County became the easy-to-get-to destination from Denver, and in anticipation of the easier access, it had four ski areas operating by 1973 and a bumper crop of condominiums and other vacation lodging. Just beyond, Vail and the Eagle Valley also burgeoned.
With the I-70 corridor now both expensive and crowded, developers have turned their attention to the Winter Park-Granby area. Intrawest is expanding the base-area condominiums and shops at the Winter Park ski area.
The broadest changes, however, are 19 miles down the road at Granby. Described by Denver cartoonist Kenny Be several years ago as Colorado’s least interesting mountain town, it is a service centre and home to 1,400 people.
But Granby officials have annexed 7,000 acres of land into the town in recent years and approved 5,300 housing units, most of them geared to the middle and upper-middle classes. One of the projects, Orvis Shorefox, also aims at the extreme high end of wealth with a mixed array of golf and flyfishing in conjunction with skiing and other nearby amenities.
Wolf Creek project on hold
WOLF CREEK PASS, Colo. – No dirt will fly for the planned real estate development at Wolf Creek Pass until at least next summer, after a lawsuit between the developer and the ski area operator is settled.
The project, called (what else?) the Village at Wolf Creek, proposes up to 2,000 homes, most of them in a time-share configuration, and up to 260,000 square feet of commercial space.
The argument about broken promises between the ski area and the developer is scheduled for Durango in May. A settlement expected to be approved by Federal District Court Judge John Kane bars any ground-disturbing activity until after that case has been decided.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service has awarded permits for the developer to build two roads across national forest land to service the project. In response, Colorado Wild, a non-profit group, has sued the Forest Service, arguing that the agency approved the roads without fully considering the environmental consequences of the roads. Without the new roads, the development would have no winter access — tough in a place where winter lasts seven to eight months a year.