Each year about this time, the Downtown Partnership pulls together its business, individual and political supporters for what might best be called a Colorado Springs dreamfest.
In one sense, it’s a report about what has been happening with downtown issues and projects. It’s also an opportunity to influence a large, committed segment of the business community.
That organization’s breakfast took place again recently, as more than 500 people converged on the Antlers Hilton. It always has been a jovial, upbeat occasion. But for those who have been regulars, the difference this time was palpable in terms of energy and anticipation.
The reason? Always before, the optimism came from hope, based on presentations that described what people and groups wanted to do. Their ambitions and dreams were worthy, and their spirit definitely admirable. But those feelings always felt weighed down by one word.
Someday. As in, someday we’ll see that renaissance. Someday we’ll have residential development downtown. Someday we’ll fix Interstate 25. Someday we’ll create new momentum in economic development. Someday, someday, someday.
This time, though, nobody used that word. This time, instead of outlining what might happen, the program revolved around what’s already happening, or starting to happen. And the target date, previously tossed out more as a pie-in-the-sky attempt to keep skeptics at bay, now is solid and realistic.
2018. That’s the year when we’ll be able to see and touch the fruits of true progress. Not hopefully, but definitely.
The first building block came from Mayor John Suthers, assuring everyone the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame “will be built” in southwest downtown, with its doors opening in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Those Winter Games are set for Feb. 9-25, 2018, and nobody is flinching.
Before that, by the end of 2017, construction will wrap up on the new Interstate 25/Cimarron interchange, providing a fresh and modern gateway to the central area.
Also, the new $60 million Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS, with public venues as well as educational facilities, is scheduled to open in January 2018. Not to be outdone, Colorado College plans to open its $45 million expansion of the on-campus Tutt Library as soon as the fall of 2017, but definitely by 2018.
And in case you hadn’t heard, The Broadmoor will celebrate its 100th year in 2018, which will include major sports events on back-to-back weekends. First will be the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday, June 24, followed by the 2018 U.S. Senior Open golf tournament from June 28 to July 1. You have to assume, as well, that with so much else going on, Colorado Springs would host a stage of the USA Pro Challenge cycling tour that August.
As for downtown residential projects, with Blue Dot Place on South Nevada Avenue nearing completion, confirmation came of a long-rumored partnership between Nor’wood Development Group and Griffis/Blessing Inc., for two large complexes totaling more than 350 units — 187 at Rio Grande Street and Cascade Avenue, 170 more at Wahsatch and Colorado avenues. Though specifics weren’t provided, a presenter said the actual number of new units downtown by 2018 would total 500.
That doesn’t count Perry Sanders’ mind-blowing plans, which came out in the Business Journal separate from the Downtown Partnership event, for a high-rise apartment building of at least 30 stories but perhaps as tall as 100 stories. It wouldn’t be done by 2018, but Sanders’ other priority of renovating and updating the Antlers Hilton should be.
The breakfast program included much more, such as the O’Neil Group’s Catalyst Campus expecting to attract more than 1,000 good-paying, high-tech jobs and capable young professionals. For more appeal, the Legacy Loop trail around central Colorado Springs by 2018 will give hikers and bicyclists a 10,000-meter route encircling downtown without crossing a roadway.
Then there’s the renovation of the downtown YMCA, plus another partnership (Nor’wood, Greccio Housing and Springs Rescue Mission) to build 65 housing units by 2018 to give homeless people a new start.
And though it’s not about downtown or within the city limits, Colorado Springs will benefit directly from the campaign to build a new Summit House complex on Pikes Peak, which could be started by 2018. (We’ve also heard since that breakfast of developing plans for the Broadmoor World Arena’s 20-year anniversary — in 2018, of course.)
By the end of that event, more than 500 heads were spinning. But the best part was the certainty — because this wasn’t just a downtown wish list.
All of it and more are in the works, with most coming true in the same amazing year. Without doubt, it’ll be worth the wait.