Downtown Partnership hands out honors, touts future

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Downtown Partnership’s president and CEO, Susan Edmondson thought she would be doing the presenting of awards Thursday morning at the organization’s annual breakfast.

Instead, the first honor of the program at the Antlers Hilton went to Edmondson herself.

Mayor John Suthers, wrapping up his planned brief remarks to start the agenda, presented Edmondson with a Spirit of the Springs Award for her years of civic leadership, eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd of about 500 people.

“Thanks for your passion and your commitment to downtown,” Suthers said. “Our downtown is positioning itself as the center for boundless opportunities.”

Next, the Partnership gave out its annual Downtown Star Awards in three categories: individual, civil servant and business or organization.

Individual: Allen Beauchamp, a tireless leader, activist and advocate for the cycling community, was honored for his efforts to make cycling more a part of the city’s identity.

Civil servant: Karen Palus, head of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department for the past three years, was recognized for her leadership in the campaign to finish the Legacy Loop for hikers and bicyclists around the downtown area, as well as her role in making Acacia Park more of a year-round attraction with the Skate in the Park temporary ice rink each winter.

Business or organization: RTA Architects, whose work has included University Village Colorado, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, Springs Rescue Mission and now on the forthcoming new Summit House complex on Pikes Peak, was honored for a different program. For two years RTA has offered a free 10-week introduction to architecture for area high school students with an interest in the field, with more than 20 teens currently participating.

The program ended with a segment called Countdown to 2018, with reports from various community sources on projects and plans in the works for the next few years. Some of those are ongoing, such as the Catalyst Campus, the I-25/Cimarron interchange, the Olympic Museum and the Legacy Loop.

Larry Yonker, Springs Rescue Mission president and CEO, announced plans to open a full-service day center to serve the area’s homeless population, projected for the fall of 2016. He also said the mission will partner with Nor’wood Development Group and Greccio Housing to build 65 housing units by 2018 to help homeless people find a new start.

Another announcement was the public confirmation of a partnership between Nor’wood and Griffis/Blessing Inc. to build two downtown-area residential complexes totaling more than 350 units. One will be 187 units at the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Cascade Avenue, while the other will be 170 units adjacent to Wahsatch and Colorado avenues.