Driven by rising prices, available land and high demand, real estate development in northern Colorado Springs is percolating at a record pace and helping to drive the city’s economy.

“We continue to see large growth in all sectors of development — single family, multifamily and commercial,” said Catherine Carleo, principal planner for the city of Colorado Springs.

Although it’s difficult to quantify the impact of development in the northern area as an economic driver, “clearly it is contributing greatly to our gross metropolitan project from an economic and fiscal standpoint,” said Bob Cope, Colorado Springs’ economic development officer. “A large percentage of retail sales is generated in that area as well.”

Residential construction is moving faster north of Woodmen Road due to vacant land available for development.

“Some of the bigger master-planned areas — Flying Horse, Cordera, North Fork and The Farm — are seeing physical development of those lots happening at a pretty quick pace,” Carleo said. “Some of the larger master-planned areas have been around since the 1980s. With the economic upturn, we’re seeing a lot of these really start to fill out. In the next few years, some could be complete, depending on the economy.”

According to data from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, 162 building permits for single-family homes were pulled in January in the area composed of ZIP codes 80908, 80920 and 80921. That comprised 35 percent of the 459 single-family home permits pulled throughout the city, and those northern homes represent a total valuation of more than $63 million.

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“Residential development is happening because of the quality of residential developments such as Flying Horse,” Cope said. “They offer people really good value and great quality of life.”

In addition, the area is attracting people who are commuting to Denver on a regular basis.

“Anecdotally in the economic development community, we believe there are many people in northern El Paso County who are employed in Denver and priced out of the Denver home market or not satisfied with what they can get there,” Cope said.

Holly Trinidad, owner and managing broker of Hoff & Leigh real estate, said she expects the north end to continue to be a major residential market.

“A lot of people would prefer to live in Flying Horse and commute than to buy a home in Denver,” Trinidad said. “They get more bang for their buck here, and it takes almost the same amount of time to get there than some places in the Denver metro area.”

Residential real estate prices have soared in the city, particularly in the northern region, according to data from MetroStudy.

In January, the average closing price for a home in the three northern ZIP codes was $451,055, compared with $422,578 in the city as a whole. Of 99 closings recorded in the city in January, 35 were in the northern region.

One unusual feature of residential development in the north is single-family homes on smaller lots, Carleo said.

“We’re seeing a trend coming from Denver of small-lot planned unit development” such as that occurring in the Wolf Ranch area, Carleo said. “Traditionally, in older parts of the city, a lot would be 50 to 60 feet wide. Some of the products we’re seeing up north are 30 to 35 feet wide. Developers are looking at a denser product that puts people in proximity to commercial entities. There’s a different taste and feel to those neighborhoods.”

Multifamily housing also is growing at an aggressive pace.

“It focuses on some portions of Woodmen [Road] east of Powers [Boulevard], a portion of Briargate [Parkway] and Union [Boulevard] east of Powers, and the Interquest and Voyager [parkways] corridor,” Carleo said. Among the new developments are Crown at Cordera, the 243-unit Watermark at Briargate complex, Falcon View and The Lodges off Woodmen, and Elements at Briargate.

Commercial follows rooftops

With more families moving into the northern area of Colorado Springs, “retailers want to follow those rooftops,” Cope said.

Commercial development is happening in three major areas: Polaris Point, formerly Copper Ridge, at Northgate and Interstate 25; Interquest Marketplace; and Victory Ridge, the former Colorado Crossing, at Interquest and Voyager parkways.

Westside Investment Partners’ Victory Ridge is one of the hottest commercial development spots in the city, Cope said.

Victory Ridge recently gained an anchor tenant: In-N-Out Burger, which plans a distribution center and office building on a 22.4-acre parcel in the development.

Victory Ridge also will house Colorado’s first In-N-Out Burger restaurant, and the West Coast company’s distribution center will support future restaurants as it expands in the state.

“That’s a really good example of what’s occurring in northern Colorado Springs,” Cope said. “It illustrates the strength of that market area and the quality of what’s happening.”

About a dozen new retailers opened in Polaris Point last year, he said, and Interquest Marketplace “continues to build out with quality retail. All indications are that retailers there are doing very well.”

Commercial development also is growing in the Powers Boulevard corridor, especially near Union, Briargate and Woodmen.

“We’re seeing smaller, inline, commercial development, a lot of retail and restaurants, and some offices,” Carleo said.

The north is the preferred location for some of the city’s largest employers, Cope said.

“In the past, we have had major employers there such as the new Walmart data center, the FedEx data center, Progressive Insurance and USAA Insurance, to name a few,” he said. “They want to build major facilities where there are amenities and they can be close to retail and dining.”

Future growth potential

Cope sees the north’s growth pattern continuing in the future, with quality residential development attracting new families and new rooftops attracting retail development.

There are challenges associated with this growth, Cope said: “How do you pay for capital expenditures for infrastructure, fire and police services, desirable parks and that sort of thing? Economic growth helps us to meet those challenges. We also have tools such as metropolitan districts and business improvement districts to help fund that infrastructure.”

Cope notes that the state demographer has said Colorado Springs will be the largest city in Colorado by 2050.

“One of our advantages is that we have the capacity for future, reasonable growth,” Cope said. “We’ve got land and water for the next 50 years.

“I think we’re looking at an average 2 percent annual growth,” he said. “That’s very sustainable and good for our economy, and a significant amount of that growth will be up north because of our city’s physical barriers to the west and south.”