Editor’s note: The article below has been updated to correct that the owners of Mary’s Lake Lodge in Estes Park are open to selling the property, but have not listed it for sale and that resumption of reconstructing the fire-damaged building is not contingent on its sale. It also has been updated to include more comments from a manager of the property.
The reopening of a fire-ravaged historic lodge on the south end of Estes Park, once scheduled for next month, remains uncertain because reconstruction that was paused last fall has yet to resume.
Tina Harlow, the homeowners’ association manager for the Mary’s Lake Lodge property, said “we’ve had some interest” in “multiple aspects of the property.” But in a letter published Thursday by the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, she clarified that the property is not currently listed for sale.
Owners Morgan and Ashley Mulch “were rebuilding the lodge, construction had begun, when the pandemic hit and hit hard; and everything came to a halt. Construction had to stop. Things have not gotten back on track at this point,” Harlow wrote. “It is true that the Mulches are open to selling the property, but it is not listed at this time.”
The main building of Mary’s Lake Lodge, 2625 Mary’s Lake Road, was gutted in June 2018 by a fire that reportedly started in the lodge’s boiler room.
“Morgan’s grandmother from Kansas vacationed in Estes Park in the late 1920s, hence the restaurant name, Tavern 1929. His great uncle started Estes Park Realty in the early ‘70s,” Harlow wrote to the Trail-Gazette. “This is family to him and therefore the fire was a loss greater than just financial.”
Twenty months after the fire, in February 2020, the Mulches revealed their plans to rebuild the lodge, including architectural details from the early design of the original building as well as a grand staircase, air conditioning, an indoor pool, and elevators to meet Americans with Disability Act standards. The plans also included increasing the number of hotel rooms from 16 to 49.
By last October, footings and foundations for the new structure had been laid, but the Mulches said they were forced to put the project on hold because of obstacles to construction linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a delay in receiving the full payment they felt they were owed through their insurance policies. They also cited a delay in receiving money they said they were owed by the manager of some condo units.
“Our attorney has advised that we are looking at two to three years before we can get resolution on our coverage,” the Mulches said in a written statement in October. “This is not what we wanted and not what we planned. We were on such a great track getting footings and foundations in, and then COVID-19 happened, and everything changed.”
The dispute over insurance and fees led the Mulches and their corporate entities — EP Resorts Inc., ML Properties LLC and M Squared Properties LLC — last August to sue Travelers Casualty Insurance Co. of America and Estes Park Vacation Rentals LLC, doing business as SkyRun-Estes Park Vacation Rentals.
The two defendants were named in the same lawsuit because “the damages are intertwined,” said the Mulches’ attorney, Stewart Olive, of March and Olive LLC in Fort Collins. However, in late January, the suit against Travelers was shifted to federal district court in Denver, while the suit against SkyRun remains in the Larimer County court system. Olive said he expected the SkyRun case to be heard by a Larimer County judge possibly as soon as this fall, but that the suit against Travelers would require a jury trial — and “who knows” when that might happen.
Greg Rosener, owner of SkyRun Estes Park, told BizWest that there is “no substance to any of the claims” against his company and that “Morgan got all the money that he was supposed to get.
“When the fire hit, he didn’t have a backup for his records. All the reservations had to be reconstructed and it was very incomplete.”
Repeated calls to Morgan Mulch for comment went unanswered.
The lodge, listed on the state register of historic places, dates back to 1913 when it was Estes Park Chalet. A fire destroyed the Chalet’s south wing in 1978, but it had been rebuilt.
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