EAGLE — When most people see the unfinished space above Eagle Ranch’s Dusty Boot, void of flooring, paint or even electrical wires, they see exactly that — an empty room. But a handful of parents, youth leaders and teachers see the space as much more — a vibrant meeting place and a safe hangout for local youth.
Scott Leonard, a teacher and field supervisor with Vail Valley Young Life, points to The Basement in Edwards as proof that there’s a need for a spot for high school kids to congregate. The Basement is a spot in the Riverwalk that has been converted from an office into a coffee shop/game room/lounge where high school and sometimes even middle-school students can find a fun, safe place to hang out on weekends. Kids crowd in for game nights on weekends, and Christian youth group Young Life uses it for its weekly meetings. The space can also be rented out for parties and other functions.
The spot was rented and renovated completely with the help of volunteers and contributions from parents and local community, and Leonard would like to see the same kind of opportunity for youth who live downvalley.
“So many people got behind The Basement,” he said. “We know that this community has a lot of what we need for our kids.”
Design for a Difference
Plans are in the works this summer to finish and decorate an 18,000-square-foot space located in downtown Eagle Ranch called The Loft. The space needs a lot of work — at the moment it’s a raw space that will need not only to be furnished, but painted, insulated, wired — the whole works. Leonard hopes to get the work done through contributions and volunteers, and local designer Terry Mutter is already on board.
Mutter heard about The Basement through her daughter, a youth leader, and wanted to help out. However, she and a few other business owners saw a chance to contribute an even larger amount through the Design for a Difference contest.
The contest, held through the International Design Guild, was spearheaded by celebrity designer Mark Brunetz and offers the winner $25,000 in goods and resources to makeover a space at a local charity of choice. There will also be four regional runner-ups, who will receive $2,000 each.
Mutter, along with the owners of Select Surfaces (an retail showroom for interior finishes) in Avon and architect Beth Levine, hope the winning project can be The Loft.
“I want to turn it into a place with brilliant colors that is inviting. My hope is that we can create a space in Eagle for kids who might not know what its like to be in a space where they’re loved and accepted. It’ll be a safe, fun place to go,” Levine said. It also has to be really durable and adaptable because it will have to meet the needs of a lot of different groups.”
Winners will be announced on Aug. 1.
Leonard said that regardless of the outcome of the contest, he hopes to have The Loft ready to receive kids by fall.
“Honestly, I don’t even know if $25,000 can do what we want to do. It might just help get a big chunk of it started,” said Leonard. “We need donations of manpower as well as the fixed finishes.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org.