As many people know, Colorado Springs has the honor of hosting the official USA Olympic Museum. Already home to one of just three Olympic training centers and The USA Olympic Committee, “The Olympic City” was an obvious choice for the project. The Museum has been completely funded and ground was broken earlier this year and is expected to be completed in 2019.
While the museum itself has already been the source of some controversy, much of which revolves around concerns regarding the increased parking burden on Downtown, there is another storm brewing around the facility. Several government and private parties are very interested in securing a section of land near America the Beautiful Park and redeveloping the area into 3 high-rise mixed use buildings (street front commercial space and residential apartments).
The plan tentatively places the project on the western most portions of Vermijo Ave. and Costilla St.; a location currently best known for easy access to heroin and its dilapidated industrial buildings.
Early opposition to the project has voiced concern about parking and the potential cost of the project. The City Manager has responded to these concerns by proposing an underground parking facility, and also cites that for the $2 billion project, all but $200 million has been raised from private investors.
Another concern for the project is that it may pull business away from other more established parts of Downtown, like Tejon, thus harming those small business owners.
Concern over a loss of revenue is nothing to take lightly, especially as the bulk of street front businesses in the Downtown area are small, locally owned establishments that are responsible for providing income to many Colorado Springs residents. However, while this concern is understandable, it is unprecedented.
Recent increases in residential living areas in Colorado Springs’s Downtown have proven to be not only lucrative for developers, but also for small businesses in the area. The best example of this success is the Blue Dot complex, located on the south side of Downtown. Blue Dot was the first new apartment building to be constructed Downtown since 1960. Being that this was the first building of its kind in Colorado Springs since the dinosaurs, it was unknown if the development would displace business from Tejon’s main drag, especially since it brought with it a new brewery and Coffee shop. However, the structure has not had a negative impact on Downtown, and since its establishment vacancies for commercial retail space in all parts of Downtown are down.
While the three proposed buildings would bring new street level commercial space to an area not currently thought of as the “main” part of city center, it will also bring with it a tremendous number of consumers. So, while there may be more competition for retailers and eateries, there will also be significantly more demand.
This project will not only bring more economy to local small businesses, it will also help the Olympic Museum achieve more success, thus making Colorado Springs more likely to be a target for other tourism facing development opportunities like this one. Please help us tell local legislators that you want to see more residential real estate opportunities come to fruition in Downtown Colorado Springs.
If you want to express your opinion on the matter and lobby in favor of the proposed project, you can email our local City Council members.