Starting on this issue’s front page, senior writer John Hazlehurst reports that the idea of a dynamic new Summit House atop Pikes Peak has progressed from a dusty concept to the brink of reality, with a request for proposals going out for design in a matter of weeks.

When you look at renderings, not just for the Summit House but the entire space atop America’s Mountain, you can’t help but imagine the possibilities.

This is yet another important step toward a real-life renaissance for Colorado Springs and the entire region. It’s rare enough to have such easy access for visitors to the top of any Fourteener in North America, actually the world. But it’s beyond monetary value to have that kind of opportunity on a mountain as famous as Pikes Peak, so well-known throughout the planet.

We’ve always felt the top of Pikes Peak was simply a wasted opportunity, an under-utilized gold mine for tourism and promoting the region. Given all the history, not just about the mountain but “America the Beautiful” and so much more that could be showcased, having a new Summit House would open the door to so many event options.

How many companies and organizations, for example, might embrace the idea of an annual retreat: Everyone rides up on the Cog Railway, spends a day of meetings, planning and brainstorming in a facility built with pressurized air to neutralize the altitude’s effects. Add in catering from an adjacent, first-class restaurant, and you have the full package, perhaps even for multiple days with transportation each way on the Cog.

The appeal of that could reach far beyond Colorado Springs, and even Denver. Any upscale hotel in the region — starting with The Broadmoor, obviously, but including others and many in Denver — could use the Summit House as an enticing package deal.

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But the hundreds of thousands of tourists who either take the train or drive up Pikes Peak will be the main beneficiaries. They’ll have so much more to do, inside and outside (weather permitting, of course), and they’ll enjoy an educational experience as well as the remarkable scenery.

Obviously the new Summit House will provide a unique boost to the region’s tourism marketing potential. We can envision national advertising campaigns and a top-notch video that immediately would become ammunition for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, city and county governments, and even for the sub-destinations such as Manitou Springs and Woodland Park.

One last point: Many people have shared in the effort to bring the Summit House project this far, notably Karen Palus, director of parks, recreation and cultural services for the city of Colorado Springs.

But also among those community heroes should be John Hazlehurst, who has made the push to build a new Summit House his personal mission, using his columns in the Business Journal as well as the Colorado Springs Independent to keep the idea alive. As a former City Council member from the 1990s, Hazlehurst knew the importance of never letting up on a crusade that he clearly believed could have an impact on the region for generations to come.

We’re proud to have given Hazlehurst that platform. And now we hope the project can come to fruition as soon as possible.