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An artist rendering of the proposed Fourth Street Crossing in Silverthorne

Can Silverthorne Become More than Just a Pass-Through Town?

The Summit County town—largely known for its outlet mall—has big plans to revamp its city center.

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Silverthorne is often seen by travelers as little more than a rest stop on the way to their mountain destination. But the town’s leadership wants to change that, and some big improvements are on the way.

In June, Silverthorne opened a brand-new, $9 million Performing Arts Center, which will house the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. The town has also hired a developer to start planning out an area they’ll call Fourth Street Crossing, intended to be a mix of residences, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.

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Often, cities and towns grow around a core downtown area, expanding over time. But Silverthorne, a fairly young city at just 50 years old, has found itself in the opposite position: It has an outlet mall and a large number of chain businesses, but it lacks a pedestrian-friendly downtown corridor.

“People are really looking for that opportunity to go downtown and dine and relax,” says Ryan Hyland, Silverthorne’s town manager, adding that residents have long felt like this has been missing from their city.

Fourth Street Crossing will cover a full city block and feature dining, drinking, and shopping opportunities, as well as residences. The town hopes it will attract visitors who come specifically to Silverthorne rather than just stopping for gas or outlet shopping, as well as new residents.

Milender White, the Denver development firm designing Silverthorne’s new downtown, is envisioning a Pearl Street Mall-like atmosphere, says Tim Fredregill, the firm’s development executive. An artist’s rendering of what Fourth Street Crossing will look like includes a festival plaza, a hotel, residences, a 20,000-square-foot market hall with a variety of food and drink offerings (similar to Denver Central Market), and space for boutique retailers. The firm is already soliciting letters of intent from retailers and restauranteurs, with a groundbreaking slated for next summer.

Silverthorne has long needed options for people looking for a night out or a family-friendly restaurant, Fredregill says. A new brewery, Angry James, will open in the area this fall, but residents have typically had to drive to Breckenridge or Frisco for a night out. “There’s a gap in the market for restaurants and bars—essentially, a nightlife option,” Fredregill says. “With the Performing Arts Center going in, the dream is that you can go out for dinner, walk across the street to the Performing Arts Center to see a show with your family, and then walk home to your residence, and maybe go out for dessert after.”

Giving visitors a reason to stay in Silverthorne is also good for the town’s bottom line: More tourists means more sales tax revenue. But Hyland says this project, which is expected to open in 2020, is more about place-making. The goal is to create a vibrant downtown community that will be a long-term asset.

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Hyland says he hopes pedestrians will outnumber cars in just a few short years, and that the town will offer much more to both residents and visitors. “I think we’re already a great mountain town,” Hyland says. “But I think we have a great opportunity to bring a whole new dynamic to the county. We have an opportunity to create that history today.”

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