Colorado Springs home of future Asian Heritage Center, Chinese Tea House and Botanical Gardens

Lan Su Gardens and Tea House in Portland, Ore., is the inspiration for a proposed Chinese tea house project in Colorado Springs.

The Golden Lotus Foundation is a local nonprofit that celebrates Asian traditions and heritage through diverse educational programs as well as scholarships and grants related to the arts. Its founder and chief executive officer, Cynthia Chung Aki, has always pursued this vision passionately, and she has some big dreams that are starting to become a reality.

The Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services completed purchase of the Stratton/PEO Chapter House in December for Golden Lotus Foundation to fulfill their vision for the Colorado Asian Art and Culture Heritage Center, Botanical Gardens and Tea House.

“The background is Golden Lotus Foundation was selected by the seller, PEO Chapter Board, and Golden Lotus Foundation in partnership with the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services requested and received city of Colorado Springs City Council approval to purchase the property for $2.3 million,” Chung Aki said. “So we now have a new park in the west side of the city which truly addresses the ‘cultural’ in the parks program.”

She is working on plans for the foundation to build three venues: an Asian cultural heritage center and museum, botanical gardens and a teahouse. The first step has already been taken: In September, the foundation purchased 8.48 acres on West Cheyenne Road in Stratton Park with a 15,000-square-foot dwelling. Once final plans are drawn up, the next step, fundraising will begin in earnest.

“I am looking at $40 million for the entire remake on the property,” said Chung Aki.

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The first venue scheduled to be built is the teahouse, which will be designed as a three-tiered pagoda. Golden Lotus hopes to partner with Colorado Springs’ sister cities Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Fujiyoshida, Japan, to bring this to life.

There’s plenty of work to be done.

“The existing kitchen is tiny, and I need to redo it for commercial use,” she said. “It lacks a dishwasher as well as other commercial equipment. We are thinking the entire project will need to be planned in phases due to raising funds or architecture constraints. So until we get through this exercise of nailing down all our needs and use for the property, it is anyone’s guess when the final project actually opening will take place. I’ve heard estimates of up to five years.”

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Other cities have accomplished such projects. Portland, Ore., has the Lan Su Gardens and Tea House, which the foundation admires and is using as a model.

“It took the community and their sister city Suzhou, China, 18 months to build it for $12.5 million,” Chang Aki said. “We plan to raise the funding through donations.”

If you’ve been to Boulder, you may have seen the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was a gift to the city from its sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The Teahouse now stands for global friendship and cultural exchange. It’s a stunningly beautiful building with award-winning dining.

Chung Aki wants the public to learn about the Golden Lotus Foundation’s plans. An open house will be held Feb. 5, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so that people can view the property and hear more about the three future venues. Reservations required at tinyurl.com/vytmd7a4 or with an email to info@GoldenLotusFoundation.org with your name, email and contact telephone number.

Visit goldenlotusfoundation.org to learn more about the foundation, upcoming events and how to donate to the effort.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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