Moes eye ‘big but doable’ project that could become an economic driver for the area
Frank and Kerry Moe were supporters of Craig’s energy economy. Now, they want to bring a new economic driver to the area.
“We have mined coal, oil and natural gas,” Kerry said in a news release. “Now is the time we mine our other natural resources.”
Frank, who served as a county commissioner, and Kerry, his wife and business partner, want to build the Yampa Valley Adventure Center, a visitor’s center and dinosaur, wildlife and nature experience. If it sounds like Jurassic Park, well, that’s kind of what the Moes have in mind, at least in scope, especially compared to what other tourism spots Craig offers. He and Kerry believe running the Best Western Plus hotel, plus 30 years of marriage, give them enough experience to develop the adventure center as a way to help Craig diversify its energy-based economy with tourism and the outdoors, something the city’s already somewhat known for with its elk hunting.
Frank calls the project “big but doable” and believes it could be finished in 18 months. Just how big? Well, take a deep breath: The 90,000 square-foot center would feature an indoor gun and archery range and pro shop; an indoor climbing center; a tag arena, mini bowling, golf and a Top Golf swing suite; a pool hall and trampoline park; an outdoor retail and rental store; a visitors center featuring all the dinosaur stuff; a restaurant and ice cream, candy and chocolate factory. Oh, yeah, the Moes also want the place to be the “gateway” to 3.5-million acres of outdoor reaction in Moffat County and would offer tours, some featuring wild horses, to help, in addition to all the other services. The Moes hope to seek out other investors and partner with private businesses to fill all those services, and they also want all of it to be ready in the 18 months.
“We would like the public to know this will not be a plan like those in the past that sits on a government office shelf,” Frank said in a news release. “This will truly be a ‘road map’ produced for a private business that is committed to its goal of being the spark that ignites the rebirth and reinvention of a resilient and growing diversified Craig and Moffat County economy.”
That kind of commitment, in addition to the 75 full-time jobs and a $6 million project that includes a pledge to use local businesses to build it, led the Moffat County Local Marketing District to approve a $40,000 grant on Aug. 13 to find a place for the center as well as determine if Craig and the surrounding towns would support it.
“Moffat County and the City of Craig have invested in numerous studies over the years,” said Chris Jones, president of the marketing district board. “Each study provided recommendations and action plans. Typically that is where the action stopped.”
This project, however ambitious, seems possible because of the Moes’ commitment, Jones said, which included a willingness to invest right away if the feasibility study was supportive of their plans, rather than a pie-in-the-sky dream fairly typical in development, especially tourism projects on a large scale.
“A common complaint of this community is that we always commission a study but never move forward with action,” Jones said. “In the past, we haven’t had businesses, entities or individuals willing to take the next step financially.”
Frank said he was looking at properties across Craig and wants to buy an existing one, but he’s also open to new construction.
Frank wants to retire soon with Kerry, he said, and hopes the project would help meet that goal.
“We want to retire in a vibrant place, with a strong economy,” Frank said in an interview.
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The price tag for Xcel Energy closing all its Colorado coal-fired plants will be $1.4 billion spread over decades — a sum that will be paid exclusively by the utility’s residential and commercial customers.