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BOZAR approves expanded Big Mine Warming House plans

New building will nearly double in size

By Kristy Acuff

The Crested Butte Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) quickly approved plans for a new and improved Big Mine Warming House at its January 22 meeting. Now the hard work of fundraising and eventually getting shovels into the ground begins.

Estimates for the new building hover around $3.5 million, based on rough square footage.

“One of our next steps is to solicit real construction estimates. Right now, our number is based on an estimated square footage cost, and we need to know if that is grounded in reality,” says Christie Hicks, director of Crested Butte Nordic.

In addition, the town of Crested Butte, Crested Butte Nordic and the West Elk Hockey Association need to solidify lease agreements and memorandums of understanding to forecast future costs.

“This is a unique situation where we have a town-owned building that is leased and used by two separate non-profits. Before we can begin fundraising for the new building, we need to know what kind of future costs we are facing,” continued Hicks.

“It’s not like we are putting in granite countertops in a luxury home,” says Karen Stock of the West Elk Hockey Association (WEHA). “The hockey locker rooms are concrete walls with rubber floors, so we are hoping that $3.5 million figure decreases when we get some real estimates.”

What to do with the existing building is another question in the balance, says Jessie Earley, assistant design review coordinator for the town. “There has been talk of re-locating the existing building but that has yet to be finalized,” she says. “That will be another decision for BOZAR should we get to that point.”

Earley says plans for the new building were “very well received” by BOZAR committee members, who suggested no revisions or modifications were needed.

The new building will be nearly double in size from the existing 3,800-square-foot structure, to accommodate the growing number of both hockey and Nordic athletes and users. Measuring 6,900 square feet and containing locker rooms, a fireplace lounge and a small retail center, the new Big Mine warming house will expand into the vacant land just north of the existing building, resulting in four fewer parking spaces. The Nordic teaching area will remain in roughly the same location with the new building.

Once the construction estimates and lease agreements are in place, fundraising efforts by both the Crested Butte Nordic and the West Elk Hockey Association will commence. “Our biggest capital campaign to date has been $120,000,”says Hicks. “So we are looking for committed folks to be a part of this capital campaign committee to help make this building a reality.”

Stock echoed those sentiments, saying, “WEHA is a young non-profit, only three-years-old, and this is a daunting task. We have no experience with this kind of capital campaign. We will be looking to our community for in-kind donations as well. A lot of our hockey players are experienced construction professionals.”

The impetus for the new building came in 2010 as part of the town’s Parks and Recreation Regional Master Plan, which concluded the existing structure, built in 1993, was far too small to accommodate demands at that time.

“Center facilities are far too small to support optimal usage for hockey teams, especially for any tournaments or multi-game events. Often hockey games are occurring during prime Nordic activities as well, creating even more demand for these limited facilities during peak usage times,” states the town’s report.

To view plans for the new building, go to

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