Chris Smith admired the mountaintop view of Casper recently as he stood on the concrete patio outside the new lodge at Hogadon Basin Ski Area.

“It’s actually more stunning at night when you can see the lights from the town,” he remarked. “It’s very beautiful.”

The lodge was peaceful and empty on Friday, but that’s about to change, according to Smith, the ski area’s superintendent.

After more than a year of construction, the building is now complete — minus a few finishing touches — and Smith said an open house is the works for September.

The venue’s already been rented for a wedding on Sept. 17, he added.

Much of the furniture has yet to arrive, but the modernistic, two-story facility, which features floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace and an elevator, is fully-functional, said Smith.

Although Smith said people who tour the structure are impressed, everyone in the community wasn’t on always on board.

The new lodge received mixed reactions when its $5.3 million price tag was approved during tough economic times last spring, but Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said Friday that the controversy has mostly died down.

“I think the community has accepted it and part of the community has embraced it,” she remarked.

The mayor added that the new facility was sorely needed.

“Hogadon really just kind of started falling apart over the last decade,” she explained. “It actually reached a point where the building was structurally unsafe.”

Humphrey, who recently toured the lodge, said she thinks it will appeal to more than just skiers or snowboarders, and Smith agreed that that’s one of the goals.

“We’re going to offer something to the entire community of Casper,” he said.

Hikers and mountain bikers can use the facility in the warmer months, and the venue can be rented out for holiday parties, weddings or other events all throughout the year, he said.

The lodge also includes a restaurant and bar space and Smith said he expects that area will soon be leased.

“We would like them to run [the restaurant and bar] year round,” he added.

Bruce Lamberson, the owner of Mountain Sports in Casper and the operator of the lodge’s equipment rental shop, said he thinks the athletic community is most excited that the new lodge will offer a streamlined process for purchasing ski passes, lessons and paying for rentals.

“It’s just going to be so much easier for people,” he said.

Katie King covers the city of Casper