For a number of months, high-level University of Denver administrators had openly discussed the possibility of a satellite mountain campus. Initial discussions hinted at the possibility of a location outside Frasier, Colorado at Devils Thumb Ranch. However, a new Sky High News report indicates DU’s formal interest in buying and preserving the historic Beaver Valley Lodge in Winter Park, Colorado, located in Grand County.
Beaver Valley Lodge is located at the south entrance to the village of Winter Park. Winter Park is exploding with development but the two-star Beaver Valley Lodge, built in 1940, was falling behind surrounding development and requires substantial work to restore and improve the current asset. Brandon Buzbee, Associate Vice Chancellor of Global Networks and special advisor to DU’s chancellor on the mountain campus, is leading DU’s efforts. DU will be working with Roam Development, which owns the Beaver Village Lodge, to develop the property. The University’s project is expected to cost $28 million, with $13 million for the renovation and $15 million to endow the program.
LetsGoDU contributor Tim Healy, with close connections to the village of Winter Park as well as the nearby ski area, said, “I think Winter Park is a great fit for a DU mountain campus. DU has a long history with both the town and Winter Park Resort. DU choosing to renovate the Beaver Lodge is a great way to preserve a historic building that otherwise would’ve been demolished for new development.”
A mountain campus supports the educational pillars that the Chancellor introduced as part of Denver’s strategic thrust. Buzbee introduced three of the four “programming pillars” that DU hopes to bring to life with the project: a student mountain experience, an outdoor leadership program, and an educational partnership.
Per Sky High News, with DU welcoming 1,200-1,500 freshmen a year, the University wants every single new student to visit the Rocky Mountain campus for orientation. The thought is to bring the students on a rotating basis for two-night stays over a six-week period. DU also plans to provide the mountain campus experience to students for free.
There may also be quarter-long stays for certain education programs that require work experience, and the outdoor leadership program would focus on traditional mountain activities.
The timing is particularly keen with soaring development and construction costs in the Rocky Mountains. Winter Park is no longer a minor ski town. Retail development, condominiums, and homes are being built at a record pace, transforming what was once a ‘day-trip town’ to a destination that will compete with nearly all of Colorado’s best mountain communities.
The Grand County Commissioners expressed enthusiasm over the historic lodge being preserved following some rumors that it might have to be torn down. The Beaver Village Lodge opened in 1940, the same year as Winter Park Resort, according to the article by Sky High News.
Photo of Beaver Valley Lodge courtesy of Trip Advisor