City leaders are seeking donations to cover a $7 million shortfall in building the new Pikes Peak Summit House.

Mayor John Suthers said Tuesday that he is starting the “My Mountain” campaign to cover the balance due on the visitors center, envisioned as a magnet that will draw more tourism to the region.

“Together we can reach the peak … of raising that additional $7 million,” Suthers said.

The entire Pikes Peak project will cost $60 million. So far, $45 million has been covered by admission fees to the Pikes Peak Highway, and $8 million has been donated.

That leaves a $7 million hole that Suthers hopes generous locals will fill.

But even without the money, the complex will open on time in mid-2021, city officials said.

Some features could be cut temporarily though. “The interactive exhibits ... would suffer,” said city spokeswoman Vanessa Zink.

The cuts wouldn’t be permanent, though. Whatever isn’t contributed now will be raised by more Pikes Peak Highway entrance fees, Zink said.

The new complex’s design commands a high cost. Its innovative architecture will protect it from high winds and extreme cold at the 14,115-foot summit. And its shatterproof glass allows for huge windows with sweeping views, something the old Summit House lacks.

The existing Summit House is “a bunker for the most part,” Suthers said.

City officials said they want the new 38,000-square-foot visitors center to be an “iconic world-class destination.”

The walls are rising now, and watching that construction is like seeing a dream play out, organizers said.

“It’s just absolutely thrilling,” said Karen Palus, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

“What a feat it is to see a building go up at 14,115 feet.”

People can donate money for the project on America’s Mountain at any Ent Credit Union or at givetopikespeak.org.

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