At its northernmost point, Powers Boulevard is met with a juxtaposition. By now, InterQuest Parkway was supposed to be a vibrant strip of hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants, offices and residences. Instead, semi-finished buildings left vacant for 10 years stand mere feet from new construction. Stymied by a stagnant economy and developer bankruptcy, associated players are looking for a turnaround, and may see some progress in 2015.
Following a sealed bid auction in August, GE Johnson Construction Company and partner, Stresscon, a Colorado Springs-based concrete fabricator, still maintain ownership of the nonfunctioning Colorado Crossing project.
According to GE Johnson CEO Jim Johnson, he and Stresscon representatives “didn’t like the auction numbers,” subsequently filed for a reorganization plan and “prevailed.”
Five partially completed buildings have sat vacant for a decade. They total 190,000 square feet on nearly 10 acres and are surrounded by 134 acres of undeveloped land at the southeast corner of Voyager and InterQuest parkways.
Johnson said he wants nothing to do with it.
“We don’t want to become a developer,” he said. “We want to sell the land, pick up our toys and go away.”
GE Johnson and Stresscon took ownership after a 2010 Chapter 11 bankruptcy by SRKO Family Limited Partnership, which was set up by Colorado Crossing’s original developer, Jannie Richardson.
The mixed-use development was to include 153 acres of stores, restaurants, offices, a 14-screen movie theater, water park and 1,600 residences.
Johnson said, since the beginning of the year, “We got our feet on the ground, cleaned up paying off all tax liens and administrative costs. We are current on taxes and getting metro districts structured correctly. During that time frame, people have called and expressed interest in buying the parcel. We’ve met and exchanged information.”
He said he’s met with four “qualified” groups, including representatives from a data center and multi-family housing, but GE Johnson is going to list the property and create a request for proposal from brokers.
“Our desire is still to sell it in bulk,” he said. “But there is nothing concrete at this point.”
Johnson said similar regional projects with momentum, including Polaris Pointe near Interstate 25 and Northgate Boulevard and the Nor’wood-owned InterQuest Marketplace shouldn’t scare off buyers.
“The argument is: Now we have synergy,” he said. “We’re not hearing [competition] as an excuse. People still like the property, and the market is good.”
Johnson said Cinemark expressed interest in operating a theater at that location as recently as January.
Regarding an acceptable sale price, Johnson said, “We still have to answer to our subcontractors. But if you look at cost per square foot … and the neighborhood it’s in, it’s comparable [to that market.]”
Aside from the Drury Inn and Suites currently under construction, future development at InterQuest Marketplace remains largely a mystery. Nor’wood Development Group’s Vice President Fred Veitch, when asked for specifics, was mum.
“We have some plans,” Veitch said of the development, “but I can’t talk about them yet.” He said Nor’wood will disclose upcoming projects as they are finalized in the next few weeks.
Meggan Herington, principal planner with the city of Colorado Springs, was able to offer a bit of a sneak peek, however.
Herington said the last building permit issued for the InterQuest Marketplace was for the 180-room, seven-story Drury Inn and Suites, which began construction last spring. Messages left with representatives from Drury Inn’s corporate office were unreturned, but according to the InterQuest Marketplace’s Facebook page, the inn is expected to be completed in May. The St. Louis-based Drury Inn and Suites has a northern presence in the city, with a location on North Academy Boulevard. That Class C, four-story motel has 118 units and was built in 1983.
“We want to sell the land, pick up our toys and go away.”
– Jim Johnson
[/pullquote]Herington said several development permits, which precede building permits, have been filed with the planning department for the InterQuest Marketplace. Those include a 12,000-square-foot mixed commercial permit request at the northwest corner of Federal Drive and InterQuest Parkway.
Veitch said to expect progress on an inline retail development in the next two months, and added there are talks of additional restaurants, but nothing has been finalized. He did not offer specifics.
“Business has been good and is continually getting better,” he said of the marketplace, which includes a Brunswick Zone XL bowling and entertainment center, a 14-screen Hollywood Theaters, Cheddar’s Casual Cafe, Colorado Mountain Brewery and a Kum & Go convenience store and gas station in addition to the partially constructed Drury Inn.
“The area is still green, yet,” Veitch said. “But we’re seeing more rooftops overall and the economy is picking up.”
Regarding Polaris Pointe, a commercial park under development one interstate exit north of InterQuest Marketplace, Veitch said, “It is what it is. Competition is a good thing.”
Herington said the land south of InterQuest Parkway between Federal Drive and Voyager Parkway is zoned PBC, or Planned Business Center, and is roughing-in utilities for a market pad site, but a development plan has yet to be approved. There is a 350-unit apartment complex that has been approved, however, for the Southwest Corner of New Life Drive and Voyager Parkway and another multi-family development of similar size planned for the area north of New Life Church.
According to Herington, a single-family housing development called The Farm is expected to break ground this year. The 141 homes are planned for north of InterQuest Marketplace.
A planning department description of the development issued last year read: “This project includes concurrent applications for a major master plan amendment to the 475-acre Allison Valley Master Plan (now known as The Farm), a PUD zone change for 26 acres and a 75.65-acre development plan. The property is located east of Interstate 25, west of Voyager Parkway and north of InterQuest Parkway.
“The master plan amendment modifies the land use of approximately 129 acres; reduces and reconfigures residential densities, reconfigures major access points, relocates the 15-acre school site, expands the parks, trails and open space, preserves drainage areas, and illustrates areas of the plan that have been previously implemented …”
The Farm is a La Plata Communities development. Other La Plata developments line the city’s northern edge, including Cordera and Pine Creek.
Herington said the development plan approval process requires applicants to provide the city with a site layout, planned utilities hookups, landscaping, access points, grading and building elevations, to name a few.
“[The development plan] is their entitlement piece,” she said. “With that, they can move forward to pull a building permit.”
Herington said the cost to file for a permit varies, depending on acreage, and the development plan can take six to eight weeks to process. Once a development plan is approved, it’s good for six years. n CSBJ