The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge are trying to buy the former Sikh temple at 17681 W. Alameda Parkway for use as either an addition or replacement for the existing visitor center at Dinosaur Ridge.
The owner is listed on the Jefferson County assessor’s website as Colorado Sabha Singh.
The building is about a mile away from the existing visitor center and is on Alameda Parkway, which is used by many to access Red Rocks Amphitheatre. A one-story structure built in 1961, it has about 2,000 square feet on the main level and 45 parking spaces.
The building has been for sale for about a year since the Denver Sikh community moved into a spacious church near Denver International Airport.
Joe Tempel, executive director of the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, a nonprofit organization that operates the visitor center, said the building would add visibility because thousands of people pass it on the way to Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
“It captures a market of about 1 million people who don’t know anything about Dinosaur Ridge. If we can get one out of 10, we think it just enhances our operations,” Tempel said.
The building could also be a fallback option in case the visitor center has to leave its current building when the lease is up in November 2018. The county owns the existing visitor center building on 1.5 acres.
“We don’t want to have to face that possibility, as small as that may be,” Tempel said.
The prospect of moving stems from the presence of encroaching development.
“The county may want to sell our property to the development because they need to widen the roadway to get access to (the developers’) 38 acres behind and all around us,” Tempel said.
The Dinosaur Ridge visitor center is at the intersection of C-470 and Alameda Parkway, near 25 acres of former Rooney Ranch land zoned Planned Development to allow for a mix of retail, office, multi-family and open space.
The Friends of Dinosaur Ridge need to raise about $112,000 to cover the renovation and down payment for the new location. The remainder would be financed. The total cost of the project is estimated at $390,000, Tempel said.
Friends of Dinosaur Ridge operates the popular educational and tourist attraction featuring dinosaur tracks and dinosaur lore.
Agreement in the works
The group is currently making progress on a new license and management agreement with Jefferson County, which owns the dinosaur tracks area as open space.
Under a proposed agreement, the Friends would have a lease directly with the county. The town of Morrison, which currently holds the lease to the existing visitor center, would no longer be involved.
The latest changes to the agreement include a requirement that Dinosaur Ridge must first obtain approval from the director of parks and open space, Tom Hoby, before applying for grant funds for the center.
Hoby described some of the changes to the county commissioners at a weekly meeting Oct. 30.
The nonprofit landed a couple of Great Outdoors Colorado grants in 1995 and 2005 that required the grant project be maintained for 25 years from the date of the agreement.
GOCO staff agreed to limit the length of the obligation until November 2018. Once the current lease is terminated and Morrison is no longer holding that lease, GOCO will require that the county assume Morrison’s grant obligations.