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By Libby Smith

CENTRAL CITY, Colo (CBS4) – Central City is undergoing a transformation in an effort to expand its economy. City leaders have approved new historic preservation guidelines, a new land development code, and won an enterprise zone designation, all with an eye toward becoming a destination location.

“This place has been boom and bust since it was discovered,” said Pat Pearce, the General/Artistic Director of the Central City Opera.

central city colo Central City Working Toward Economic Expansion

(credit Denver Public Library)

Central City boomed in the day of gold mining, and then again, when the casinos moved in. Through it all, Central City Opera has been a steady presence.

“We think we’ve proven that this kind of performance and this kind of revenue stream for the city is something that can be ongoing, and is something that can be expanded,” Pearce explained.

central city 2 Central City Working Toward Economic Expansion

(credit CBS)

The Opera is also a seasonal presence. It owns about 30 properties in town including the Teller House and the Opera House itself, all of which closes at the end of the summer season.

“We’re open to the idea of both the Opera House and the Teller House and these properties being used for a longer stretch of the year.

Opera officials are thinking about putting some of the houses on Airbnb as a way to attract more visitors.

“It would require us to upgrade it, so it can be occupied outside of the summer,” Pearce added.

central city 1 Central City Working Toward Economic Expansion

(credit CBS)

“One of the things we wanted to do was stabilize our economy,” said Central City Mayor Kathryn Heider.

The city has its own plans to attract new businesses and tourists. It bought the Belvidere Theatre and got grant money to renovate it.

“We’d like to see small conventions and different kinds of activities there that would bring in business to the town,” Heider told CBS4.

central city 3 Central City Working Toward Economic Expansion

(credit CBS)

City leaders also bought a parking lot. They hope to build a hotel on it to house all those new visitors. The goal is to make what was once a summer escape from Denver, into a year-round attraction.

Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.

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