Amazon distribution center under construction at Peak Innovation Park

For Peak Innovation Park, two major hotels and one Amazon delivery center are on the horizon — and Garrett Baum says that’s just the beginning.

“I expect in the next 18 months we’ll have hotels, we’ll have restaurants,” said Baum, managing partner at Urban Frontier, master developer for the park. “If you start adding four-story hotels, the landscape out here is going to change and the feeling amongst tenants is going to be one of excitement.”

In the long term, the 900-acre master-planned business park at the entrance to Colorado Springs Airport is envisioned as a destination, with retail, parklands, hotels, offices and restaurants.

In the short term, Amazon is expected to open its 66,780-square-foot last-mile delivery center  in the park’s southwest corner by October, the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC confirmed. And two hotels — a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn — are slated for a 6-acre site not far from Northrop Grumman and The Aerospace Corporation, which are already tenants in the northern half of the park. The proposal is for one hotel of about 120 rooms with an approximately 4,000-square-foot conference center, and a second hotel of about 120 rooms.

“We expect to see those break ground likely in the first quarter of next year,” Baum said.

With big names on the books, Baum anticipates waves of development and increased attention from businesses and brokers who’ve previously set their sights on the city’s north side.

- Advertisement -

“With our experience at Interlocken [Business Park, between Boulder and Denver] and some other business parks where we’ve developed, it definitely goes in waves,” he said. “Part of that is driven by the economy; part of that is driven by momentum that you get from doing certain deals.

“My opinion is, should the economy continue to do well here in Colorado Springs — and we’re seeing that … the Springs is definitely picking up momentum —  I see a scenario where we can have many, many deals over the next 18 to 24 months. … Over that period of time, I am extremely excited about the prospects to see a big wave of good quality development here.”

And that, he said, could mark a tipping point: Interquest and Briargate will have to start sharing the spotlight.

“It’s interesting, because the business parks have really focused north … and when you talk to the brokerage community in Colorado Springs, they’ve really focused on that market as well,” Baum said. “So when we first got involved in this project and talked to brokers, it was ‘Well, really more happens in the North Colorado Springs market.’ And I sometimes wondered if it was more the mentality of low-hanging fruit — it’s maybe easier to do deals there.

“Now as we continue to build this momentum on an international scale, I believe we’re going to see more and more companies focusing on this [Southeast] market, and in particular Peak Innovation Park, and all of the good things happening at the airport. We’re going to start seeing maybe that local brokerage community also begin to focus on this southern market growth.”

The vast, airport-anchored park will unfold with segments of retail, hospitality, office space and industrial buildings, Baum said, adding that Amazon “has set the bar that we wanted for the industrial segment.

“From an industrial standpoint, I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Companies that do business with Amazon are going to want to locate around Amazon, and Amazon is a well known and well liked company. People like to work there; people like to be associated with it.

“People also consider Amazon to be a technology company — it’s not necessarily brick and mortar — so for me, and the vision that we have for Peak, it brings not only that industrial and distribution and R&D, but also this technology theme. I can see a possibility where we start getting companies that maybe are more a Flex R&D feel, that want to be in close proximity.”

(Flex R&D is defined as an industrial building at least 25 percent office space, and consisting of either warehouse/distribution or specialty industrial space such as research and development or high-tech space.)

Urban Frontier is planning major site tours for potential office tenants in the coming month, and is in active talks with convenience retail and four restaurants.

While most interest so far has come from national chains, the master planners are already pursuing local businesses — both new Springs companies, and those looking to expand.

Baum said Colorado Springs Airport is actively adding to the park’s appeal.

“The airport is doing some amazing things — they’re increasing flights and they’ve done an incredible job of lowering costs, so that they’re more and more competitive,” he said.

“What was frustrating was that so many people would drive from south of Colorado Springs up to Denver and bypass the airport here in the past, because [Denver] may have been less expensive, or there may have been more options.

“Now what we’re seeing is an incredible increase in options to fly places from Colorado Springs, but at comparable prices. So Colorado Springs — and southern Colorado in general — really has this incredible gem with the airport here.”

Greg Phillips, director of aviation for Colorado Springs Airport, said COS’ air traffic has grown 40 percent over the past three years.

“What we’ve seen with our legacy carriers is incremental growth — some of it’s in larger aircraft, some of it’s in more flights per day on a route, like Salt Lake City. All those things help and build our ability to provide the service that our community would like to have,” he said.

“You know, we’re still working on it, and there’s still lots more routes that we’d love to add. … But the easier it is to fly out of Colorado Springs, the easier it is for business to do business out of Colorado Springs.”

As Peak Innovation Park grows and adds more jobs closer to the airport, Phillips said, that will boost airlines’ interest in adding routes.

“This really is a use-or-lose proposition — but if we’re using the airport, if the demand is there, it may take some time but the airlines will recognize that,” he said. “And I guarantee you we’ll be making sure to beat that drum with them. So the more business that happens at the airport, the easier we can make it for people to get in and out of the airport.

“The hotels will also provide an opportunity for people across the southern Colorado region to be able to come stay near the airport and use the airport. All these things add up to our ability to promote more service out of Colorado Springs.”

Baum said Peak Innovation Park is ideally positioned to attract a desirable labor force, given its ample space and the lifestyle-focused amenities it will provide.

“It used to be that businesses would locate where executives wanted to go and then the labor would follow,” he said. “What we’ve found over the last decade is that the labor is saying, ‘Hey, this is where we want to be. We want these amenities. We want these running trails, we want these bike trails, we want the amphitheater where we can go and see music and eat outside’ — which then makes the companies take a look at where they locate, because the business park of the ’80s or the ’90s is very different than the business park of the 2020s.

“We want to be the business park for the next generation, not the last generation.”