At its 2010 inception, city officials anticipated the 200-acre Polaris Pointe retail complex in northern Colorado Springs would impact the city’s economy to the tune of $800 million over the next 25 years.
In February 2019, the city ratcheted up its estimate to roughly $4.2 billion over a quarter-century, also creating about 3,600 permanent jobs, said Bob Cope, economic development manager for the city.
“Polaris Pointe is going to be one of the premier commercial retail developments in the city,” Cope said. “It already is, and it will continue to do that.”
City council agreed last March to increase its contribution from 1 percent to 1.75 percent of the city’s general fund sales tax in order to meet the development’s goal of connecting Powers Boulevard to Interstate 25, Cope said.
Developers have yet to secure funding to build the second part of the Powers Boulevard connection between Voyager and Interquest parkways, according to the project website.
However, Cope said, funds from the 1.75 percent sales tax will be available for the second phase of the project.
“We’ll just have to determine whether or not it generates enough revenue to build the second phase,” he said, “but it should.”
Wildcat Construction began work in late November on Phase 1 of the $65 million project — a new interchange and a ¾-mile section of state highway that will connect I-25 to Voyager Parkway.
Completion is anticipated in spring 2021, said Tim Mitros, district manager for the Copper Ridge Metropolitan District.
This project is the first part of a two-part plan to eventually connect I-25 directly to Powers Boulevard at Colorado Highway 83 (Interquest Parkway). The initial project includes the construction of a four-lane divided highway between I-25 and Voyager Parkway, south of Northgate Boulevard.
“That development is really divided into two areas: about 100 acres north of where Powers Boulevard will connect with I-25, and about 100 acres to the south of that,” Cope said. “The north 100 acres was able to be built out because it had pretty good access from Northgate, and the developers had a pretty good sense that Powers would be extended at some point.
“The south 100 acres never developed as prime retail without the Powers extension. It just didn’t have the access that’s needed for a regional retail development.”
Developers are already in preliminary talks with the city of Colorado Springs, El Paso County and the Colorado Department of Transportation, in hopes of kicking off the second phase of construction soon after the initial phase is complete, Mitros said
“We’d like to have a plan in place by then to get the second phase going,” he said.
Construction costs for Phase 2 are estimated at about $72 million, Mitros said, not including the interchange to Highway 83 and Powers.
“That’s probably another $20 million,” he said
The project goes through the Flying Horse subdivision, Mitros said. As part of its annexation agreement, Flying Horse must designate the Powers Boulevard right of way.
“It’ll be a state highway, so the state will get the right of way at no cost as part of the developers’ annexation agreement,” Mitros said.
If enough businesses populate Polaris Pointe, developers would be able to bond the project like the first phase, Mitros said, “but we have to get more synergy going up here.
“There’s been other discussions about looking for grants,” he said. “If we get enough development up here, we still have the ability to sell additional bonds. The bonding done so far is based on existing development as we develop more property to allow us to bond additional funds to get the second phase going. That’s a possibility.”
In the meantime, the new interchange will open direct access to Polaris Pointe — formerly Copper Ridge at Northgate — which includes Bass Pro Shops, Magnum Shooting Center and dozens of other businesses.
Eight new businesses opened at Polaris Pointe in 2019, Mitros said, including Boot Barn Hall at Bourbon Brothers, a mid-size live music venue and event center.
The venue’s owners, Bourbon Brothers Entertainment, also are acquiring the former D-Station Restaurant on Bass Pro Drive, converting the space to a breakfast eatery they will call Buttermilk’s at Bourbon Brothers, Mitros said.
Other 2019 openings include Verizon, Mangosteen Thai Street Food, Orangetheory Fitness, C&C Coffee & Kitchen, Pure Barre, Forza Pilates, and Beasts and Brews, a restaurant taphouse and butchery.
In January, Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen & Seafood Co. moved from its Rockrimmon location to a larger storefront on Tracker Drive within Polaris Pointe.
Among future plans are Crush Golf and Air City 360 Trampoline Park, both scheduled for March 2021 openings. Crush Golf — which is planned for a 54,000-square-foot facility at 165 Spectrum Loop, at the intersection of Kaycee Case Place — will boast 75 range suites that will be heated in the winter and can accommodate up to eight people, as well as a 250-yard driving range and 6,400 square feet of dining and meeting space, according to its website.
Additionally, Blackburn Properties, a Mississippi residential and commercial land development company, has submitted a development plan for a 300-plus-unit apartment complex, currently called Polaris Junction, Mitros said. Construction is also due to start later this year on two 51-unit senior living luxury lofts.
Developers also are considering a 50-acre site within the development for “a very dynamic and vibrant mixed-use property” that will combine residential, office space and restaurants, Mitros said.
“Our original thought was like a retail shopping center, like Park Meadows [Mall, in Lone Tree],” he said. “What we’re hoping is to have a very unique shopping experience in Northgate and try to stem some of this traffic going to Denver to shop.”
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Interquest and Northgate are two of the highest-demand areas in the city, “and a lot of it is the easy access and proximity to the interstate,” said Mark Useman, executive managing director for Colorado Springs Commercial, Cushman & Wakefield.
“We will see the benefits of having the interchange,” Useman said. “It’s only going to make things better for Northgate.”
To access Polaris Pointe, drivers coming from I-25 currently have to travel on a heavy-traffic stretch of Northgate Boulevard.
“[The interchange] will bring additional traffic off the highway that is now getting off at the Northgate exit,” Useman said. “It’s going to help having an easier traffic flow off the interstate to get into the Northgate area.”
Cope said he expects to see the development fully built out once the Powers/I-25 connection has been established.
“Only about one third of it had been developed prior to the action in 2019,” he said. “I would expect to see it fully built out in the next five years.”
In addition to Polaris Pointe’s economic impact, the development also is expected to produce about $300 million in total new city revenue over the quarter of a century, Cope said.
“It’ll be great for economic development, but also good for stemming sales tax leakage out of Colorado Springs to areas to the north, such as [the Outlets at Castle Rock] and Park Meadows,” he said.
No formal studies have been done to determine how much sales tax is lost to the Springs’ northern neighbors, Cope said, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the impact is significant.
“I have people in my family that, almost every time they drive to and from Denver, they stop at Park Meadows or Castle Rock,” he said.
“I have three daughters and a wife that just go shopping in Denver because there’s no good high-end shopping here in Colorado Springs,” he said. “[Polaris Pointe] will make a very good location and that’s what we’re looking at — a very dynamic and vibrant mixed-use property.”