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ABOVE: Attached to a vehicle in the parking lot, a concrete pump rises above the second floor of the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center on a recent wintry day as part of the stairwell replacement part of the continuing renovation project. BELOW: Demolition work on the old stairwell left a large gap for a time in the middle of the center. That work has been unseen by the public, blocked from view by temporary sheetrock walls. BOTTOM: Pikes Peak and a Garden rock formation are reflected in a new first-floor door allowing wheelchair access to the elevator.
Courtesy of Dolores Davis (above and below); Westside Pioneer photo (bottom)

GoG Visitor Center opening daily again; renovations continue

       Major renovations are moving forward at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, though not quite as speedily as once hoped.
       Nonetheless, the center went back to opening daily May 16 and will stay that way during the summer, said Linda Carter, the center's director. The overall completion target is May 15, 2015, in time for a planned celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the non-profit facility that faces toward the Garden at 1805 N. 30th St.
       Since January, when the work started, the center had only been open Fridays through Sundays, closing the other days of the week to give the construction team more maneuverability.
       It would be hard for the center to
be open part-time during tourist season, considering that the 1,300-acre-city park is the most popular visitor spot in the region, with hundreds each day dropping by the Visitor Center.
       The original hope had been that the bulk of the job, mainly the stairwell, could be done this spring, but weather delays and construction-related issues cropped up, Carter explained.
       Adding to the summer challenge for center staff and volunteers, construction needs are likely to tie up varying portions of the parking lot. Also, the first floor will have to be closed, except for elevator access (through a newly built door), and second-floor space will be limited because of remodeling and an addition.
       The main access for now is the south entrance, which can be reached via steps leading up from the parking lot. The entrance leads to the second floor. Handicapped access is possible from the first floor, where an elevator is provided.
       Despite the construction limitations, the plan this summer is to provide substantially the same kind of service to visitors as in the past. Volunteers and staff will be available to provide information, certain exhibits will be on display, the gift shop and cafeteria will be open, and the theater will be temporarily relocated to the Red Rocks Room.
       “We'll try to make it business as usual,” Carter pledged. She added that she is pleased with the prospect that enhanced visitor services will eventually result from the work.
       The contractor is Art Klein Construction, which built the center 19 years ago, according to Dolores Davis, a staffer specializing in communications.
       The center is owned and operated by the Garden of the Gods Foundation, a nonprofit entity that donates a percentage of its customer revenues to maintenance of the park. The anniversary improvements are being funded through a private donation.
       The following is a list of the major improvements being implemented:
       - A broader stairwell (from 4 ˝ to 7 feet wide) through the center of the two-story building.
       - A consolidation of what used to be two gift shops (one on the first floor, one on the second) into one shop on the second floor.
       - The theater's relocation from the second floor to the first.
       - Renovation of the first floor for the theater and handicapped access leading to the elevator.
       - An addition near the old north door that will allow more exhibit space.
       - A revamped information kiosk.
       - An expanded volunteer office.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/12/14; Outdoors: Garden of the Gods)

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