Colorado Springs City Councilors received an update on the development of southwest downtown from city officials during a council work session Monday.
“Thriving cities and downtowns make strategic investments in their future,” said Chris Jenkins, president of Nor’wood Development Group, in a news release from the city. “The revitalization of southwest downtown represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the future of Colorado Springs by transforming this area into a walkable and connected urban neighborhood, elevating the Pikes Peak Center, America the Beautiful Park and the new U.S. Olympic Museum.”
Jason Doyle, community bank president at UMB Bank in the Springs, supports Jenkins.
“I love what’s happening in the southwest corridor with the Olympic Museum; we have $25 million in credit extended to that project,” Doyle said. “I love everything that’s going to happen with Chris Jenkins and Nor’wood. I love what he is doing for the city, his vision for Colorado Springs and what he’s going to develop around that.”
Doyle said it’s good to have new construction set for the Springs.
“I get tired of going to Denver and seeing 20 cranes in the air, so much construction, so much growth,” Doyle said. “As the second-largest city in Colorado, we should have some of that, we should have some growth.
“To me, the Olympic Museum is the first domino to tip over to make Colorado Springs grow,” Doyle added. “We’re heavily invested in that area and everything Chris is going to do around the museum — the hotels, the apartment complexes, the shopping, the streetscaping he’s going to do — it’s really going to change downtown Colorado Springs.”
Jariah Walker, executive director of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority, is excited that the project is underway.
“For more than two decades, the southwest area of downtown has been included in planning efforts as an area ready for revitalization, but has lacked the catalytic spark needed to begin,” Walker said. “Now, with construction beginning on the United States Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, the vision and master plan framework for southwest downtown transforms an underutilized corner of the city center into an extraordinary new urban neighborhood; a place that will offer locals and visitors a vibrant mix of uses while building a bridge, figuratively and literally, between Colorado Springs and its multifaceted heritage.”
Specifically, the multi-phased vision strives to achieve five major goals:
- extend the energy and mission of the U.S. Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs;
- create a new urban neighborhood focused on health, wellness and the outdoors;
- focus on unique, vibrant, memorable and functional public spaces;
- reconnect America the Beautiful Park to the downtown core; and
- provide an economically-stimulating environment where significant downtown investment can rapidly occur.
The museum is expected to become a one-of-a-kind community attraction, spurring more than five million square feet of new urban development over the next 20 years into the heart of the city; including new shops, restaurants, businesses, residences and hotel rooms.
“We are now beginning to see the benefits of the state’s investment in the Olympic Museum and associated infrastructure,” said Jeff Greene, chief of staff for the City of Colorado Springs. “We are very interested in seeing this vision for transformation come to life around the museum.”
The vision strives for seamless connectivity between the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal District and a re-emerging downtown that is being energized by dramatic regional growth.
“We believe this master plan effort for the southwest area of downtown will profoundly impact our region — fiscally and socially — through increased community pride in this transformative vision,” said Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.
During the next several months, the city of Colorado Springs and Nor’wood, operating as the master developer of the southwest area of downtown, will continue to work on infrastructure improvements including a pedestrian bridge, streetscapes, a parking structure and drainage and utility improvements with the goal of completing them prior to the opening of the museum in 2019.
Updates, timelines and additional details will be provided as the effort to revitalize southwest downtown continues.
“Redevelopment of southwest downtown will become one of many economic drivers for Colorado Springs while fulfilling the community’s long-time vision for downtown,” said Bob Cope, economic development manager for the city of Colorado Springs. “Benefits will include the initial investment and job creation associated directly with the project, but will pay economic dividends for future generations.”