Summit County's most-lived-in place seeks its civic soul.
Little-known fact: of the 4,749 people who own or rent a home in Breckenridge, only 30 percent are permanent residents. Yet at the other end of the Blue River Parkway, just the opposite is true: 70 percent of Silverthorne’s population (4,271 as of 2014) lives there year-round.
The distinctions hardly end there. As it transits Breckenridge, the parkway morphs into Main Street, a handsomely landscaped boulevard alive with the pedestrians. cozy cafés, and spendy boutiques that define downtown Breck. In Silverthorne, it’s State Highway 9, a commercial strip anchored by outlet malls, auto dealerships, and big-box stores that cleaves the community in two, with a ratio of pedestrians to automobile traffic roughly equivalent to that of Canadian lynx to Front Range skiers on Peak 6.
But that’s all about to change. Just before Thanksgiving, as storm after storm blanketed the county, excavators began digging into an earthen berm at Fourth Street and Highway 9, relocating a water line for a yet-to-be-named town center redevelopment that Silverthorne’s council approved in 2014. It’s scheduled to finally (and officially) break ground in the spring.
“We have fantastic parks and destination retail that’s very attractive, but what we’re lacking is a sense of place,” explains Joanne Cook, Silverthorne’s recreation and culture director. “Our residents want somewhere where they can gather, to linger and just hang out. … We also want to incorporate arts and culture and give people an elevated experience, something that challenges us and makes us feel like this place is our home.”
Filling that role will be an $8.5 million, 17,000 square-foot Center for the Arts, which, come spring, will begin to sprout next door to the Silverthorne Pavilion, the 12,000-square-foot music and dance hall on the banks of the Blue River at Fourth Street. At the epicenter of Silverthorne’s nascent Town Core development—a pedestrian-oriented nexus of shops, cafés, and residences running north to south along Highway 9—the Center of the Arts will be the new home to Lake Dillon Theatre Company. When its move is complete in 2017, the theater group will quintuple the size of its current cramped quarters across the Interstate, where each season limited seating and sold-out performances leave as many as 1,500 patrons out in the cold.
Then there’s culture in the most literal sense of the word—as in yeast. Just across the parkway at Fifth and Adams, Silverthorne residents A.J. and Darcy Brinckerhoff will break ground in spring on the core’s first commercial business, Angry James Brewing. When the taps start flowing next summer or fall, Angry James will be the community’s second brewpub after Baker’s Brewery, which Dillon Dam Brewery’s former brewmaster opened on the Town Core periphery this past March. With two other brewpubs nearby in Dillon and another in Frisco (Backcountry, where A.J. currently works as a brewer), the Brinckerhoffs hope Angry James will provide the critical mass Silverthorne needs to become a destination for craft beer aficionados, as well as become a home-away-from-home for locals thirsting for connection.
“It goes beyond bricks and mortar,” says Darcy Brinckerhoff, an Avon accountant. “Some brewers refer to pubs as the third place, and I really like that. It’s where you go to see people and gather with friends, and hopefully have a beer or two.”
In other words, a public house: the heart of Silverthorne’s new civic core.