The Albany County Tourism Board, who operates Visit Laramie and other tourism efforts in the county, is starting the process to try to move its offices to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, one of Laramie’s top tourist attractions.
The tourism board and Visit Laramie offices are currently in a building by Second and Custer Streets, which executive director Scott Larson said the group has outgrown.
“Our desire is to relocate to a shared facility with the Territorial Prison State Historic Site given that it is one of the top tourist attractions in the area and well-located near many major entrances to town, including (U.S.) Highway 130, (Wyoming) Highway 230 and Interstate 80,” Larson told the Boomerang in an email.
In a letter to city and county representatives asking for support, Larson said the Tourism Board works closely with the Territorial Prison already “using a variety of marketing mediums on a national and international level.”
Larson told the Boomerang the plan is for the new facilities to be constructed by State Parks on the same grounds currently managed by the Territorial Prison.
The Territorial Prison requested the new facility to have a common lobby area, a shared theater, a shared conference room, a gift shop, two offices and restrooms big enough to accommodate large tour bus groups.
An additional four offices, storage space, a dedicated screen for Tourism Board marketing materials in the theater and a kiosk for tourism materials with after-house availability are additional requests made by the Tourism Board for the new space.
The details of the project are still being finalized; Larson said the proposed transition is still in the very early and initial stages.
“Our ideal timeline is two-three years before we would be fully operational and moved into the new shared facilities,” he said.
Funding the move and new building would come from Wyoming State Parks — who runs the Territorial Prison — as a part of a shared facility and co-location with the Tourism Board, Larson said.
“The Territorial Prison State Historic Site would cover the costs of constructing, managing and maintaining the new facilities as part of the transition and co-location of our facilities,” Larson said. “We feel this makes economic sense and is a win-win for all involved.”
The board currently pays rent for its office space on Custer Street. For the new space, the tourism board “intends to prepay rent for a duration of time of 10 years as part of this agreement to assist in covering our costs associated with the project,” Larson’s letter to the city reads.
The agreement would renew for an additional 10 years at its conclusion, the letter adds, “with an amount to be determined at that time as agreed upon by all parties based on our portion of the facility.”
The Laramie City Council voiced its approval of the endeavor via a letter of support, which was approved as part of the consent agenda at the Dec. 17 meeting.
“Co-locating ACTB’s welcoming center with the Territorial Prison makes sense and will undoubtedly yield even greater dividends given the prison is the top area tourist attraction,” the city’s letter reads.
The city’s letter adds the new location can help “ensure even greater marketing exposure for Laramie-area tourists, visitors and motorists passing through Laramie.”
The tourism board’s board of directors, the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and the Albany County Commissioners have also voiced their support for the transition.
The county’s resolution noted the Territorial prison often sees visitors that end up staying in Laramie overnight, contributing to lodging tax dollars, as well as schools in town for field trips.
Along with the support from local elected officials, the tourism board is working with the state parks office and the Territorial Prison to make the transition a success, Larson said.