So what do we have to look forward to this year? I’ve learned not to predict what our antic president will do, and whether his actions will harm or benefit the Republic. I do know from long experience that in Colorado Springs we are the masters and mistresses of our own fate.
Recall that we voted for Douglas Bruce’s tax and spending limitations in 1991, thereby guaranteeing decades of straitened municipal budgets, underfunded public safety, parks and street maintenance and political blame-shifting. After a quarter-century of dysfunction, we elected John Suthers to clean up the mess, and suddenly we’re on a roll. Will it last? It sure will. In that spirit, here are some modestly optimistic projections.
After almost four decades of false starts and failed plans, construction of the new Pikes Peak Summit House will begin in June. The current mess on the summit is a regional disgrace, so get to work, guys!
The Ring the Peak trail should be ready to welcome peak circumnavigators within a couple of years, thanks to the unceasing efforts of open space and trails advocates for all these years. It, like Bronco Billy’s planned $70 million resort/casino development in Cripple Creek, will create and enhance recreational opportunities for both visitors and residents.
Only too much is enough! We can’t have too many cool new apartment buildings, hotels, Millennial hangouts, baffling bike lanes, fun events and renovated buildings. If we’re smart enough, we’ll find a way to build a stadium and events center on the Antlers Park site. If not, we’ll likely forfeit a $27 million payday in the form of state sales tax increment funds that could, at no cost to us, be used to help fund it. Are we that dumb? Not if Perry Sanders has anything to say about it.
The arranged marriage of the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College has freed the FAC from the financial straitjacket that kept it from realizing its full potential. Expect brilliant, accessible theater productions like 2017’s transcendent “Annie,” striking arts exhibitions and exceptional creative energy. Across Cascade Avenue, CC’s Cornerstone Arts Center will both benefit from and contribute to the FAC’s revival, but that’s a 2017 story.
This year will belong to the resplendent UCCS Ent Center for the Arts, which will formally open with a black-tie gala on Feb. 3. The striking new building will house a 774-seat theater/concert hall, a 254-seat recital hall, an adaptable “white box” space for the Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater (TheatreWorks), a visual and performing arts interdisciplinary arts lab, a recording studio and rehearsal spaces. It’s an architectural marvel, one that integrates natural light, indoor and outdoor sculpture and beautifully conceived interior spaces. I only wish that the creator of TheatreWorks, the great Murray Ross, could have lived to see this extraordinary building.
Banning Lewis, the ’Burbs and everything else
Like it or not, 2018 will be the year that city council and Nor’wood Development Group agree to a revised master plan that will allow the Banning Lewis Ranch development to go forward. Will it be an undistinguished slice of suburbia, or something more? Let’s hope that planners and developers can come up with an urban/suburban model on the lines of Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood or our own Gold Hill Mesa. Maybe they’ll create a whole new city on the plains, one less automobile-centered than the usual megaclusters of single-family homes.
The stately houses of the Old North End are fine for attorneys, doctors and successful business people, but the Westside is the best side. Where else can you find rickety mansions next to restored tiny houses from the 1890s, a tattoo parlor down the street and Old Colorado City a few steps away? It’s a great place to live.
That’s why my neighbor across the street is building a new house on the vacant lot next door, and that’s why all of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region will grow and prosper in 2018.
A few years ago, we were America’s pothole — run-down and dispirited. But no more. Think New York and Denver in the 1980s: The best is yet to come.