Recent business development in the Tri-Lakes area is a result of the number of houses being built in northern El Paso County.
“Residential growth is like music to businesses’ ears,” said Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “With more locals, we will have a greater chance of attracting even more of the businesses we want up here.”
Hayes told attendees of the 2019 State of the Tri-Lakes Region on Friday at Great Wolf Lodge the area could be described with one word: growing.
“We kicked butt in growing this year, and I don’t really think that is going to slow down much,” she said. “What prompted the increase of all the businesses are the rooftops.”
Hayes cited the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations, stating the Monument zip code, 80132, is projected to have 32,000 people by 2022 — a 38 percent increase from its population in July 2017.
“We are still a large commuter community with families having one spouse headed north and one headed south for work,” she said. “That makes us a great area to live in — and then you throw in our fantastic school district and you have a recipe for why northern El Paso County is desirable.”
Additionally, 1,184 single family home permits to be built in the Tri-Lakes area, Hayes said.
“We also have a 194-unit new apartment complex that is in the review process in Monument,” she said. “For those of who live up in this area, we know what a great area it is. It’s a smaller community feel but we have such a close proximity to Interstate 25 and what some would call larger civilizations both 20 minutes north and south of us.”
Hayes said the recent economic growth is a result of business owners “finally” bouncing back after the recession.
“In 2016 and 2017, it seems people started waking up and going, ‘Maybe I want to start a new business. Maybe I want to open a new location. Or maybe there are new franchises that I want to help come to the Tri-Lakes area,'” she said. “They all seemed to have that conversation and then they seemed to execute at the same time in 2018.”
Examples of recent development included a new wedding venue in the old post office in downtown Monument in addition to the new Jackson Creek Senior Living on the eastern side of Interstate 25.
“That’s filling a niche for independent senior living that we haven’t had up here before,” she said. “And those are just one example on each side of the freeway. We are really growing like crazy on both sides.”
El Paso County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, who also spoke at the event, said the northern part of the county is experiencing more growth than other areas.
“The county has been in the process of approving and working on several major development projects with some of those up here in the north end of town because there is an enormous amount of growth up here,” he said. “The fact is it is essentially the largest area of growth in the entire county right now.”
Of course, all the development does bring challenges for the Tri-Lakes area as well, Hayes said.
“Obviously water is the big one,” she said. “The Town of Monument is looking hard at what their next steps are going to be, including re-use, additional water tanks, or other options, but the nice thing is they are having a conversation about it.
“Then, there is Palmer Lake that took steps this summer to protect their water supply, and El Paso County also just updated their county-wide master water plan.”
Palmer Lake’s Mayor John Cressman briefly spoke to attendees about the state of town, including International Stoneworks’ plan to expand and how the number of Airbnbs tripled locally last year.
However, he also said Palmer Lake is facing a new challenge with its sewage that could cause development delays.
“But, that does give us time to update our guidelines and fees for future development,” Cressman said.
Meanwhile, Monument’s Mayor Don Wilson spoke about his optimism for the town after dealing with challenges with its governing body in 2018.
“We are fully staffed up now and there new consensus efforts being made,” he said. “Even with the struggles the town faced in 2018, we still had a successful year with new businesses coming in, and I think 2019 is going to be a great year for us.”
El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams also gave attendees a brief update on the Interstate 25 “Gap” construction between Monument and Castle Rock.
She urged commuters to be patient with recent news from the state that the project is now expected to extend into 2022 as opposed to an initial completion date in late 2021.