USOC bldg. open, but easy to miss

space on the USOC building’s lower floors at $30 per square foot.
Now available: space on the USOC building’s lower floors at $30 per square foot.

Not even McDonald’s moves in without a sign.

Renovation plans for the six-story U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters called for a number of impressive exterior features, any of which would have trumpeted the USOC’s presence.

Among the building plans was a pedestrian bridge across Colorado Avenue to the city parking garage, Olympic-themed entertainment or retail on the first two floors and Olympic rings that would signal the USOC’s downtown presence.

Some of the flashier design elements were dropped long ago.

For example, the pedestrian bridge, which had not been popular with downtown merchants in the first place, was  eliminated to save money.

The USOC moved in about two weeks ago but the bottom two floors of the building remain vacant, available to any “acceptable” tenant willing to pay upwards of $30 a square foot.

There is no other signage on the building aside from the address — 27 S. Tejon St. — which is numerated in modest white letters on opaque black glass doors. At some point, we may see those rings but just when is uncertain.

In short, if you didn’t know it was the USOC building, you could walk right by without noticing it.

While the USOC does not own the bottom floors, it does have the right to deny potential tenants that are deemed unacceptable. Bars and restaurants were listed as unacceptable tenants under the original deal.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun this week said there are no firm plans for tenants.

“We’ve been told by the leasing agent that there’s some interest in the space,” he said, “but there’s nothing definite.”

Real estate broker Tim Leigh, who has shown the space, believes no one has moved in because the rent is too high.

He said the $30-per-square-foot price is a substantial premium above comparable downtown space.

Blackmun also said he doesn’t know when the Olympic rings might go up.

“Nothing would please me more than that,” he said. “We want to see that.”

Blackmun said the USOC has been talking about the issue with the Downtown Partnership and that he has a meeting with the mayor next week.

USOC Communications Director Patrick Sandusky said that the delay has nothing to do with funding, but is about agreeing on the overall design and placement of the rings.

“It’s about getting something that fits the area, that works strategically and that works for everybody,” he said. “We don’t want to just plop some big rings on the sidewalk.”

Downtown Partnership Executive Director Ron Butlin said talks so far have been aimed at creating appropriate art for the building’s exterior.

The hope, he said, it to create “something that would give the building a little more character.”

The USOC moved into its new space May 4. The organization selected the building as part of a package offered by the city and LandCo Equity Partners, the city’s development partner at the time.

After the deal collapsed in March 2009, LandCo exited from the agreement and the city eventually assumed responsibility for funding the building’s renovation.

The USOC has leased the building for the next 25 years at no cost, providing that organization retains its headquarters in Colorado Springs during the term of the lease. At lease expiry, the building will become the property of the USOC.

  • Jason H

    “We don’t want to just plop some big rings on the sidewalk.”

    I agree, but what about doing something to highlight Olympic athletes and strengthen downtown? What if small monuments or even stars, rings, etc were placed throughout downtown? Similar to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

    Why not build the relationship beyond tenant and landlord? It would also be great for the athletes in my opinion.