Otis Moore doesn’t have to check his schedule on Thursdays, because the Denver developer knows he’s driving to northern Colorado Springs to meet with workers at Victory Ridge.
Moore is a principal with Westside Investment Partners, along with Andy Klein and Kevin Smith, the group that purchased the failed Colorado Crossing mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Interquest and Voyager parkways for $22.1 million in September 2016.
They renamed the 153-acre property, sold the partially completed 14-screen theater that is scheduled to open Thanksgiving week, and are in the process of selling two parcels of land that will house townhomes and apartments. In a few weeks, GE Johnson workers will begin tearing off the damaged façade of the unfinished 110,00-square-foot office building that is next to a parking garage containing 1,100 spaces.
Moore also envisions a “restaurant row” for sit-down diners, two separate retail areas that could accommodate fast-food establishments and two hotels. He expects some retail space to be ready to open in 12 months.
“Things are starting to come together and we’re seeing a lot of progress,” Moore said. “For the last year, it’s been a lot of background stuff with the city and homework that had to be done. Now it’s starting to look like a construction site instead of abandoned buildings and blight. It’s satisfying but there is plenty of work left to do.”
About 55 acres of the project will accommodate what was initially called the Scott Hall Field of Dreams, a youth sports facility that will feature eight multi-use baseball fields and three multi-use soccer fields. The Field of Dreams was to be located at Powers Boulevard and Ranch Road, but is now part of a city of Colorado Springs land swap that will make it a part of Victory Ridge.
“This whole [Victory Ridge] project is a great thing for the city and should become a commercial hub for this part of town,” said Craig Ochs, who oversees the Field of Dreams project. “With the Field of Dreams, we can help bring thousands of people to the area for youth tournaments. And this is a great need for our city because we have a shortage of fields.”
Ochs is executive director of the Scott Hall Foundation. Scott Hall was a youth sports coach who died of cancer in 2012.
Ochs, who played quarterback for the University of Colorado and University of Montana, and signed NFL contracts with the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, is looking for a three-year commitment to sell the naming rights of the youth fields and also hopes for more funding to eventually build an aquatic center and indoor facility.
Nine years in mothballs
Moore predicts a “five-year build-out” for the entire Victory Ridge project, which would create a span of 14 years since the Colorado Crossing workers walked off the job when developer Jannie Richardson ran out of money.
“It was one of the first suburban mixed-use projects I’d seen, definitely in the Springs, and even nationwide,” said Colorado Springs Economic Development Manager Bob Cope. “Usually mixed-use projects are in an urban area.”
Because the buildings were partially completed — and then left to sit for years — Cope said developers have their work cut out for them.
“It was blighted, with graffiti and everything else you get with unoccupied buildings,” Cope said. “Before the project was even sold [to Westside], we had our planning staff, our engineering staff, regional building and utilities, and myself out walking the property and getting ready for when it changed hands. It took longer than I thought it would to find a replacement buyer. We knew the chances would improve as the economy got better. It happened about the same time [the] Great Wolf [Lodge] came along across the street and national economics were improving.”
Westside sold the theater to Sam Snell for $1.75 million.
Snell, the owner of three theaters in Texas and New Mexico, put $8 million more into finishing the cinema. He moved his family to the Springs from San Angelo, Texas, and plans to add a 106-foot screen, the largest in Colorado, in a 15th theater in January.
Moore is finalizing contracts with two unnamed companies to sell 15 acres for 208 townhomes to be built across from the theater and an 11-acre tract that would eventually house about 250 apartment units.
Westside expects to make an initial presentation before the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority board in December, which could allow the development to capture a portion of the new taxes that are generated by the project.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of investment in that [area] — and it’s going to be quality stuff,” Cope said. “A lot of newer retail developments around the country are about experiences, and sports fields and parks are more common in retail development, so I think the Field of Dreams is a critical component. In that location, I think Field of Dreams can become a regional draw for youth tournaments.”