Colorado Springs and its private partners in the City for Champions suite of projects have received a one-year extension to show substantial progress on some of its components.
The five-year period for beginning substantial work on two downtown sports facilities and the Gateway Visitor Center at the U.S. Air Force Academy was due to expire Dec. 31. At its November meeting, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved the extension until December 2019 — a deadline that must be met in order for the city to spend $120.5 million in state sales tax increment financing provided through the state Regional Tourism Act.
The other two projects, the U.S. Olympic Museum and the UCCS William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, are well under way.
“I feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Mayor John Suthers said. “There’s a very high likelihood that we will be breaking ground on the [downtown] stadium and indoor arena in late spring or summer.”
The extension does not change the project completion timelines, Colorado Springs Economic Development Manager Bob Cope said.
“We’re currently negotiating with the state a predetermined set of milestones for each project that will automatically constitute commencement of substantial work,” Cope said.
Funds allocated through the state Tourism Act have already started flowing.
“The Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority is holding those funds, but there are conditions that have to be met,” Cope said.
Besides commencement of substantial work, the C4C business plan the city has already submitted must be formally approved.
“There are various conditions attached to all of the projects,” Cope said. “Most have already been met. The main ones are for the sports and event center. That’s what we’re focused on.”
Here’s a rundown of progress on each of the City for Champions projects.
Weidner Stadium, Robson Arena
The outdoor Weidner Stadium will be built in tandem with the indoor Edward J. Robson Arena at Colorado College. Together they constitute one component of the City for Champions project originally called the Colorado Sports and Event Center.
The Weidner stadium will seat about 10,000 people for sports events and could seat up to 20,000 for concerts. The stadium, located on a tract of land at Cimarron and Sahwatch streets, will be the home base of the Colorado Switchbacks soccer team.
The architectural firm Perkins+Will has been hired to design the stadium and is in the conceptual design stage, Cope said.
“The thing that has really made the big difference is the level of private investment,” Suthers said.
Weidner Apartment Homes and the Ragain family, owners of the Switchbacks, have partnered with the city to build the stadium. The stadium itself is expected to cost about $20 million, and Weidner has committed to investing $40 million to develop adjacent residential, commercial and retail projects.
The 3,000-seat indoor arena that will be the new home for the CC Tigers NCAA Division I hockey team will be built on a block bordered by Nevada Avenue. Colorado College is providing $30 million of the estimated $39 million cost.
JLG Architects, a leading designer of hockey arenas, has been hired and is working on conceptual drawings, Cope said.
“We have formed a committee on campus and … have given the architect some ideas,” said Robert Moore, senior vice president, finance and administration at CC.
The college will be hosting a series of community meetings to gather feedback on plans for the arena.
“We are going to reach out, but we do want to have some more facts before we do that,” Moore said. “We’re still very early in the process.”
Both projects also will have to go through the city’s land use approval process, which includes traffic and parking analyses and provides further opportunities for public input.
Cope said he expects the Weidner stadium to open in 2020; Moore said the Robson arena is projected for completion in 2021.
Sports Medicine and Performance Center
Ground was broken Oct. 18 for the 104,000-square-foot, four-story Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center that will become part of the Health and Wellness Village on Nevada Avenue. It’s located adjacent to the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences/Health Circle Clinics.
Centura Health, which will operate an interdisciplinary sports medicine clinic at the center, is providing about $20 million toward its estimated $61.4 million cost. UCCS has issued bonds that will be repaid with about $16.8 million in state funds.
JE Dunn Construction has contracted with the university as the design-build lead for the project, said Brad Johnson, UCCS planning, design and construction manager. RTA Architects of Colorado Springs is the architect of record for the project, and St. Louis-based HOK is the design architect.
The project has been through schematic design and design development process and has been greenlighted by the CU Design Review Board.
“We are moving from 100 percent design development drawings … into 100 percent construction documents,” Johnson said. “That package will be issued in late January.”
JE Dunn is mobilizing with construction fencing and plans to start parking lot grading and site utility work toward the middle of this month, he said. Foundation work will start in January, and the steel structure of the building will begin rising in April.
The new center, the first of its kind, is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and is expected to become a nationally recognized leader in caring for injured athletes, Paralympians, military veterans and injured first responders. The building will also house lecture halls, labs, classrooms, conference rooms and offices.
Substantial completion is expected in April 2020.
U.S. Olympic Museum
The most visible City for Champions project at this point is the $75 million, 60,000-square-foot U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame. Ground was broken June 9, 2017 at the site — land donated by local developer David Jenkins at Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street. Construction reached the halfway point in April of this year and is about 65 percent complete.
Denver-based Anderson Mason Dale Architects is the architect of record for the 60,000-square-foot project, which was designed by New York City-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro. GE Johnson Construction Co. of Colorado Springs is the construction manager and general contractor.
The museum’s swooping exterior design was inspired by athletic motions such as a discus thrower would make. The fully accessible interior will steer visitors along a pathway of circular ramps that mimics the journey of young athletes.
The museum’s exhibits, from the history of the Olympic Games to the contemporary Olympic movement, are being designed by Barrie Projects of Cleveland, Ohio. Interactive, immersive displays will let visitors experience what it’s like to train as an athlete and walk in the Parade of Nations.
Construction is expected to be complete in May 2019. It will take months after that to install the exhibits and state-of-the art technology. The museum is expected to fully open to the public in early 2020.
Gateway Visitor Center
The 32,000-square-foot visitor center is envisioned as an exhibit space that will showcase the honor and contributions of the Air Force Academy and a welcome center for visitors to the Pikes Peak region.
According to a release from Air Force Academy Public Affairs, the Air Force is in negotiations with a privately owned company to begin development on about 57 acres by the academy’s North Gate.
A proposed lease includes an agreement between the Air Force and Blue and Silver LLC, to develop and construct the new visitor center.
The development proposal also includes hotels, office and retail space, an indoor skydiving facility and a Santa Fe Trailhead Center.
Construction could begin as early as 2019 if lease negotiations are successful.