Following years of sluggish progress, the city’s northeast side appears to be undergoing a growth spurt.
Development along InterQuest Parkway slowed to a near halt for several years before the spring opening of a Drury Inn & Suites. Since then, several new businesses have committed to InterQuest Marketplace, according to Nor’wood Development Group’s Vice President Fred Veitch. Expected to open before the end of the year, Veitch said, will be several eateries, including Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers; a soup, salad and sandwich restaurant called Zoup! and a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.
Beginning construction the first quarter of next year will be a stand-alone Starbucks and a Bank of Colorado. A Taco Bell is expected to begin construction during second quarter 2016, Veitch said. Work has also started on the $90 million transformation of the unfinished Renaissance Hotel into a Great Wolf Lodge and water park, which is also expected to open in 2016. Veitch said there’s plenty of space still left for development within the 100-acre marketplace.
One interstate exit away, development continues at Northgate Boulevard, particularly at the 200-acre Polaris Pointe, which has seen several new businesses open or reveal plans to open in the near future, according to Colorado Springs City Planner Katie Carleo. Bass Pro Shops is the anchor retail establishment for the development.
Western retailer Boot Barn and SafeSplash Swim School are operational and a certificate of occupancy has been issued to Mikado Asian Bistro, which is expected to open any day. Under construction are a Kneaders Bakery and a three-unit commercial building that will house a bank and an AT&T store upon completion. A Loaf ‘N Jug is also under construction at the east end of the marketplace.
Additionally, a building permit has been issued for an indoor go-kart facility called Overdrive Raceway, and Polaris Pointe has also contracted with Sprouts Farmers Market and Ace Hardware to fill retail space.
The Colorado Grand Resort and Hotel, which will include the second of two regional water parks, has received planning department approval, Carleo said, but has not pulled construction permits.
“There are a lot of infill opportunities in these areas, compared to the city’s central and southern districts.”
– Katie Carleo
“They had some easements to take care of which comes right before the issuance of a construction permit,” Carleo said. “There’s nothing holding them up. It’s just the order of events.”
For the most part, Carleo said development is going smoothly and most concerns have involved traffic increases along Northgate Boulevard, which serves as the visitors entrance for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“A challenge has been collaborating traffic and engineering,” she said. “But we’ve reached out to neighborhoods and been good about notifying them of changes. We want to make sure they have an opportunity to understand what’s coming. We’ve not had a lot of pushback because amenities are what [residents] are looking for and they don’t want to drive far.”
Carleo said large commercial parks are making up much of the development to the northeast, but smaller, multi-tenant opportunities are also under construction along Voyager Parkway between Middle Creek Parkway and Spectrum Loop.
She said the northeastern region of the city has been popular with prospective businesses.
“There are a lot of infill opportunities in these areas, compared to the city’s central and southern districts, which have much smaller sites,” Carleo said. “This area is growing rapidly and there are many opportunities not just for new businesses, but for new neighborhoods. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from [commercial park] neighbors who say the amenities are great.”
Bob Cope, Colorado Springs economic development manager, pointed to the area’s falling under an Urban Renewal Authority as a catalyst for not only commercial growth, but the growth of regional transit as well.
“Urban Renewal is an important tool in support of economic development,” Cope said. “In the case of [Polaris Pointe], the Urban Renewal Plan was very narrowly established. The entire scope of the plan is to build the extension of North Powers Boulevard from [State] Highway 83 to Interstate 25. The tax increment financing created by the project can only be used to build the extension. By providing a financing mechanism to build the North Powers extension, existing retailers such as Bass Pro, Sprouts, Ace Hardware and several new restaurants have been attracted to the site. The North Powers Boulevard extension will be even more important in attracting a future regional mall to the project. If successful, a mall of this caliber would be an additional economic driver and would stem sales tax leakage escaping to Park Meadows and other venues to the north.”