Colorado Springs’ first shopping center, built in the 1950s, is poised for a vital new life according to Kevin Kratt, local retail developer and leasing broker who will be working with Noddle and Company of Omaha, Nebraska on the project. From improved access and drainage ways to updated architectural theme and new big box tenants, Kratt sees a tremendous opportunity, both as a landlord and an investor, to rehab the project.

Property owner, Univest, Inc. out of Scottsdale, Arizona (Kratt and Univest worked together on a Pueblo Sam’s Club) will rely on Kratt and Noddle and Company to revitalize the Center’s final phase of redevelopment. When Univest first purchased the 63 acres from the Myron Stratton Home in the late 1980s, the deal was subject to two fifteen acre ground leases – one under Sears and the other covering a dozen storefront locations flanking either side of 24 Hour Fitness. The company’s development plans include capitalizing on the Center’s abundant parking ratios, revamping retaining walls and drainage systems, as well as creating more direct access into the popular neighborhood shopping center by moving and improving an existing stoplighted intersection off East Cheyenne Rd. With a location adjacent to the city’s desirable southwest corridor, Kratt expects to attract national retail and restaurant companies looking to position themselves near an affluent and underserved target market.

This fall, Kratt opened half a dozen new stores and outlets – joining Broadmoor Towne Center’s Home Depot, Ross Dress for Less, PetSmart, Famous Footwear, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Michael’s and a number of smaller stores. Broadmoor Towne Center’s restaurant collection, including On the Border, IHOP, Red Robin, and Chipotle Grill, will soon be joined by a new Noodles & Company, located near Verizon Wireless and Great Clips with an in-line storefront spot.

Already Kratt says his newest tenants are enjoying the benefits of high volume traffic and ample parking. “When the International House of Pancakes was operating in its old location (in a freestanding location across from 24 Hour Fitness), they were doing about half a million dollars a year in business. Since their move to a more visible spot near the entrance to Broadmoor Towne Center, they will probably do a million and a half dollars this year – and according to the manager, the new store has become one of IHOP’s top sales locations nationwide.”

Employees at the Borders Books and Cafe affirm Kratt’s enthusiasm for BTC retailer success. “Our customers tell us that we are like an oasis in the desert. There was a lot of pent-up demand in southwest Colorado Springs for what we provide,” said one counter employee as she checked out a long line of Christmas shoppers. Borders opened in November – just in time for the holidays, as did the Veda Salon next door. The chic hair salon, day spa and body products center attracted almost one-third more customers in November 2001 than it did in November 2000 at its former location says Kratt, noting that Veda owner and manager, John Aquila, has been very pleased with the store’s instant growth spurt. AAA also opened last month is already generating more traffic than its Academy Boulevard traveler’s center.

As new storefronts and facades are attracting new customers, Kratt sees the next round of redevelopment as a more challenging project. “The Sears store has done a complete update and interior remodel – it looks terrific,” he notes. “I’m still hoping that management might consider a more extensive exterior update. With all the activity now in the works for the remaining 30 acres of in-line retail, including Sears, a small pawn shop, video store, a thriving consignment clothing store, and thousands of empty square feet of space, Kratt also sees increased opportunity for big box retailers who will create traffic for five new pad site restaurants and services.

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Though an architectural theme for the remaining shops has not yet been approved, Kratt believes it will follow the Broadmoor Towne Center’s overall design. “We’re working on a safer, more accessible and efficient shopping environment for today’s family of shoppers,” says Kratt. “Now that we have a critical mass of retailers, a synergy is created, and they can play off of each other. To illustrate his point, Kratt points to a recent Saturday when he got a haircut, met his wife for lunch at On the Border, bought a phone at Verizon, books at Borders, had coffee at Starbucks, bought shoes for their two-year old at Famous Footwear, stopped by Home Depot and had dinner at Red Robin. “That’s the kind of synergy that makes a center successful – and keeps customers coming back,” he adds.

Broadmoor Towne Center sales activity has exceeded even Kratt’s early expectations – and he knows some customers find interior traffic lanes and intersections a little busy. “We could never have imagined such heavy traffic, but our options were limited by CDOT back when Southgate was first built. As a result, our shopping center roads are almost mini-arterials,” Kratt points out. “We will work with City Planning to solve zoning, traffic and entitlement issues. Our driving force will be to attract new business by creating smooth traffic flow — and an overall environment for retail success and a positive customer experience.”

Kratt expects to tear down certain buildings; to move access points for safer, more direct entrance off Nevada Avenue at Southgate Road; to attract new retailers who complement existing Broadmoor Towne Center businesses; to continue to promote its new anchor, 24 Hour Fitness as permanent member of the BTC community; and to attract more free-standing restaurants. The Amoco station is expected to remain for now.

“The timing is perfect to complete this project,” says Kratt. “For a while the old Southgate was eclipsed by the newness and excitement of Broadmoor Towne Center. Now we’ll play off the an increased demand for services at one of Colorado Springs’ few remaining prime retail locations.”