Colorado Springs Business Journal Article June 23, 2017

City for Champions Projects Hitting Stride   

by Cameron Moix

UCCS Sports Medicine Complex

In just the past several weeks, two City for Champions projects have reached significant milestones: Officials and community stakeholders broke ground at the site of the planned U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, and the University of Colorado Board of Regents awarded $61.4 million to go toward the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS.

Three of the four projects initially proposed (only a downtown stadium has lost traction, but is not yet dead) seem to be a sure thing.

So where do these ambitious projects stand today? 

In the beginning

In December 2013, the city of Colorado Springs was awarded $120.5 million in state sales tax increment financing by the Colorado State Economic Development Commission. It was part of a larger amount made available through the state’s Regional Tourism Act.

Four Colorado Springs projects received funding under the RTA, which stipulates that each must be “of an extraordinary and unique nature, is anticipated to result in a substantial increase in out-of-state tourism, and that generates a significant portion of the sales tax revenue by transactions with nonresidents of the zone.”

The four projects are: a 60,000-square-foot Olympic Museum complex, which received $68 million; the 340,000-square-foot Colorado Sports and Events Center, which was allotted $26 million; the 104,000-square-foot UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center, which received $14 million; and the 30,000-square-foot U.S. Air Force Academy Gateway Visitor Center, which received $13 million. Some of that funding is to be used for infrastructure improvements in downtown Colorado Springs.

 Each project has faced its own set of challenges, but the common obstacles involved financing shortfalls that threatened to shutter at least half of the proposed C4C projects.

According to city officials, however, all four of the proposed projects still hold promise.

“We’re feeling really good about [C4C],” said Bob Cope, economic development manager for the city of Colorado Springs.

United States Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame
Status: Under construction
Slated to open: 2019

Of the four projects, the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame — which has been called C4C’s anchor project — is the one that has seen the most action.

On June 9, after four years of fundraising and logistics work, board members for the organization broke ground on a parcel of land donated to the project by prominent local developer David Jenkins.

When complete, the museum campus is planned to include an Olympic Hall of Fame, theater, shops and dining options — and creates a new anchor for the city’s downtown core. Upon opening, organizers anticipate the facility will attract 350,000 tourists each year.

The landmark structure is being made possible by state and local funding, bank financing and private donations.

“The endeavor of bringing this museum to life has required the vision of, the hard work and the talents of world-class leaders,” said former Olympian Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley during the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’ve partnered with world-class designers and architects to build an iconic, world-class building. This museum will sit in the shadow of Pikes Peak in the world-class city of Colorado Springs. And the museum will honor the achievements of our world-class Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”

Colorado Sports and Events Center 
Status: Fundraising; planning 
Slated to open: TBD

The Colorado Sport and Events Center is perhaps the most unlikely of the C4C projects to ever be built — for a variety of reasons.

Since its inception as part of C4C, community stakeholders have disagreed about what and where the facility should be. Plans for the center have ranged from a downtown baseball or soccer stadium to a downtown expansion of the existing National Museum of World War II Aviation near the Colorado Springs Airport. And that unpredictability has made it a hard sell to potential financiers as well as the general public.

Initial plans submitted to the state Economic Development Commission described plans for the facility: “A destination for professional and aspiring athletes, this new multi-purpose facility will host regional and national sporting events associated with local sports organizations and the Olympic movement in Colorado Springs.”

In February, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers announced that organizers would have to make up for an almost $28 million funding gap in order to move the project forward. At the same time, Suthers said that he wouldn’t support using local public financing to cover the shortfall — making it unlikely that the project would continue to play a part in the City for Champions plan. 

Subsequent plans to swap the sports and events Center with the 86,000-square-foot, $36 million National Museum of World War II Aviation were then shot down by the Colorado Senate in April. 

Despite difficulties thus far, Cope (in his city role of helping the C4C projects) said there is still a chance the facility will see the light of day. 

“We live in a great city,” Cope said. “There is a lot of work to do with the sports and events center, but we’ve got a lot of great people in the community who are working on concepts. With any luck, we’ll be able to pull that one off too.” 

According to Cope, the city continues to work with potential financiers and community members to work out logistics before December 2018, which is when Colorado Springs is due to report to the Colorado Economic Development Commission on the project’s progress. 

“If we’re not able to make what’s called a ‘Commencement of Substantial Work’ by December of 2018, we lose the percentage of the award that was assigned to the sports and event center,” Cope said. 

A resolution in the Regional Tourism Act stipulates that each project must conform to the initial plan within 20 percent (which translates to minor changes to size, capacity, etc.) and another attempt to fund a different project with the same money would require another trip to the state Legislature. 

“The community needs to work together to come up with a sports and event center concept as originally envisioned in the City for Champions award,” Cope said. “In the meantime, the city will continue to review all its options.” 

William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS
Status: Fully funded; groundbreaking in 2018
Slated to open: December 2019

The next C4C project slated to break ground is the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS, which recently received approval for $61.4 million in funding through the University of Colorado system. 

According to a university news release, UCCS will hire a design-build team for the project and begin construction in July 2018, pending approval from a legislative committee that is scheduled to come later this month. The center is expected to open in December 2019. 

“We’re confident that project will move forward and be successful,” Cope said. 

The facility will be located north of the UCCS Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences on the east side of North Nevada Avenue. Plans are for a 104,000-square-foot building costing $61.425 million and will also include a Center for Tactical and Occupational Performance, a Center for Athletes and Active Individuals with Physical Disabilities and an Environmental Health and Performance Center. 

The Hybl Center is expected to offer services in orthopedic sports medicine, primary care sports medicine, physical therapy and rehabilitation, occupational therapy, athletic training, pain management, imaging, body composition and bone health services, performance training, occupational and tactical scenario training and altitude training. 

U.S. Air Force Academy Gateway Visitor Center
Status: Planning; groundbreaking in 2018
Slated to open: TBD

The U.S. Air Force Academy has remained quiet about its progress on plans for a new Gateway Visitor Center, Directorate of Installations Carlos Cruz-Gonzalez says it is still moving — albeit slowly — toward becoming a reality. 

Although optimistic USAFA officials and community stakeholders had hoped for a groundbreaking in 2017, Cruz-Gonzalez said construction will likely begin in 2018. Like the other projects, USAFA must report substantial work to the Colorado EDC by December 2018 to retain its RTA funding. 

“That’s our big deadline,” he said. 

Cruz-Gonzalez said the process has been delayed because of a fruitless first round of USAFA’s “Request for Qualifications” process that began last May. 

“We received three proposals in early September, but we decided to cancel that RFQ and make some adjustments to the process based on what we learned,” he said. 

Based on feedback and conversations with development experts, Cruz-Gonzalez said a new RFQ was drafted and will be issued by the end of June. The goal, he said, is to select a bid and begin working with a development team by the beginning of next year. 

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “We certainly believe there is an opportunity for us to partner with some local developers … and end up with a world-class visitor center.” 

Preliminary plans outline the construction of a new, more accessible facility — to replace the existing Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center — on 52 acres of leased property just outside USAFA’s north gate. n CSBJ 


Colorado Springs Style Article June 2015

Cowboy Star
An Escape from the Ordinary

by Maria Faulconer

When Jon Weber, President and Co-Founder of Cowboy Star, was a little boy, he loved watching old black and white westerns.  Little did he know then that his passion would inspire the creation of a fine dining restaurant.  Cowboy Star transports you to a different time and place--when actors like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers played rough and rugged cowboys by day then revealed in the elegance of vintage Hollywood by night.

Their story is brought to life in the design as well -- from rough cut cedar and exposed wood beams to crisp linen tablecloths and soft leather booths.

Along with co-founders Angie Weber and Executive Chef Victor Jiminez, Jon is passionate about fostering creativity in their staff.  Their innovative menu changes seasonally, and sometimes weekly, to take advantage of the freshest local ingredients, while their bar program offers the best in specialty cocktails.

University Village Colorado Shopping Center
For luscious, melt-in-your-mouth flavor, nothing compares to Cowboy Star's 18-oz dry aged bone-in rib eye, paired with roasted bison bone marrow.

"We believe in the humane management of animals," says Angie Weber.  "How they are treated and fed reflects in the quality of the meat."Known for their steaks, Cowboy Star offers the highest quality products, including Gold Grade American Wagyu beef that literally melts in your mouth.

If you love Cowboy Star's high-quality steaks, chops and sausages, you can even buy some to take home.  Their storefront butcher shop takes you back to the good old days when you knew your butcher by name, and he hand cut everything fresh to order.

"We make our own charcuterie and age our own hams," says Angie Weber.  If you have an upcoming event and need Colorado lamb and pigs or a  standing rib roast, just place an order and you can have it in a day or two. 

Chef Victor, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, is committed to forming relationships with local farmers and ranchers.

And he loves to go foraging.  On weekends, you can find him searching for wild asparagus, onions, and mushrooms in and around Colorado Springs.

One of the most exciting offerings at Cowboy Star is their innovative Chef's Tasting.  Up to eight guests can enjoy a nine-course, specially-designed chef's menu with wine pairings, served in a working pantry.  The shelves are filled with homey touches like cookbooks and preserved vegetables to create a cozy atmosphere.

"Conversation always ends up in the kitchen," says Jon Wever, "and that's the experience we want to create."

This commitment to quality and excellence in a warm and welcoming environment is the hallmark of Cowboy Star.

"Entertaining is our passion," Angie Weber says, echoing the sentiments of her two partners.  "We're excited to be in Colorado Springs, and we look forward to taking good care of you."


Gazette Article 11/22/2014

 University Village Colorado Shopping Center

University Village Colorado Shopping Center



Colorado Springs Business Journal Article of 11/13/14

University Village: prosperous property

November 14, 2014 | Filed under: Photo,Print,Retail | Tags:commercial real estateUniversity Village Colorado

By Cameron Moix

    University Village Colorado

     Five years have passed since part of a fledgling urban renewal project in north-central Colorado Springs began a journey to become a shopping and dining mecca.
     In those five years, University Village Colorado — an 80-acre property once peppered with derelict motels and blight — has become a major source of both employment and tax revenue.
     The plan, after all, was “to reduce, eliminate and prevent the spread of blight within the Urban Renewal Area and to stimulate the growth and development in the corridor over the near- and long-term,” according to the Urban Renewal Authority’s North Nevada Avenue Corridor Plan.
     Despite the center’s troubled beginnings (a substantial construction project breaking ground at the bottom of the recession), the complex at 4880-5342 N. Nevada Ave. quickly bloomed. From plans for a simple stretch of shops and a couple of anchors rose a sprawling complex with 56 tenants, including both local and national retailers and restaurants.
     Its success is no surprise to many involved.
     According to real estate data, nearly a half-million people live within a 25-minute drive of UVC — and nearly 200,000 of those are just 10 minutes away during working hours. That includes the more than 11,000 students who attend UCCS, which borders the sprawling plaza directly to the east.
     “We have seen more students now than ever before,” said developer Kevin Kratt, who owns real estate company Kratt Commercial Properties.
     But Kratt and co-developer Tom Cone, owner of Olive Real Estate Group, said the impact of UCCS on the success of University Village was much more significant than was expected.
     “We always felt that the college would be a strong neighbor of ours,” Kratt said. “But Costco [Wholesale], Kohl’s and Lowe’s [Home Improvement] never thought of that as being essential. They wanted to be centrally located, along the I-25 corridor, having great infrastructure with the new interchange. As we moved forward and when it opened, they realized how strong of an economic driver the college had become.”

A brief history
     A decade ago, UCCS was in a bad place geographically — surrounded by blight and in need of a revitalized western entryway.
     “There were a lot of old, run-down properties that weren’t really generating any tax revenue for the city and were preventing any development,” said Jim Rees, a consultant for the Urban Renewal Authority on projects including UVC.
     Cone approached Kratt in 2002 with an idea to develop portions of land across from the university, unaware the site had been targeted by the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority for designation as a revitalization district, which was approved by City Council in December 2004.
     “There was a spawning of an idea, then we collaborated, but it took a long time to bring to fruition,” Cone said.
     After years of working alongside each other as retail brokers, they joined forces as University Village Developers LLC to purchase and develop the decrepit, creekside property.
     “It seemed like a synergistic fit,” Kratt said.
     The URA’s approval of the site plan, as well as growing interest from Costco and Lowe’s, led the developers to move forward with purchasing the 30 parcels from more than 13 different property owners. The process took years, ending in 2007.
     “It was a jigsaw puzzle,” Kratt said. “We were dealing with all of that while working to move forward with entitlements and coordinating with the Urban Renewal Authority and the City of Colorado Springs and the campus,” Kratt said.
     “But we both knew that Costco was looking along the North Nevada Corridor for a location for their first Colorado Springs store, so it was very site-specific.”
     Costco purchased 16 acres of the vacant land in early 2008 for $4.85 million and began construction on a large stand-alone building. Lowe’s followed close behind, purchasing 12.3 acres for $5.6 million and breaking its own ground.
     The two large retailers attracted others of various sizes, including popular Kohl’s department store, and University Village was opened in October 2009 — in the depths of recession.

University Village Colorado
From its beginnings, the center was planned to allow
room for the anchors and other businesses,
along with plenty 
of parking.

It came together
     “Would we do things differently?” asked Cone rhetorically. “Yeah: We wouldn’t have had a recession as soon as construction started.”
     But he said the center is all the better for it, having accumulated a more varied tenant mix of companies — more lean, mean and ready for business.
     Also a testament to the center’s success is its nonexistent turnover rate, the developers said. They haven’t lost a single business in those five years, while the industry standard was 20-25 percent turnover, Kratt said.
     “It’s a great testimony to their perseverance,” Rees said.
Kratt said another aspect of University Village’s growth was engineered simply by practicality.
     “We quickly found that it was going to be very expensive from a utility standpoint because it was a brownfield site, and we were dealing with some real antiquated situations there,” he said. “It was going tobe cost-prohibitive to develop a smaller site there, so we needed more ground to spread that cost around.”
     Because so many other developments paused during the recession, Cone and Kratt were targeted by companies that showed little interest in locating in the region pre-economic dip, the developers said.
     Now, Cone said, five-year leases are beginning to expire but tenants are “enthusiastically renewing their leases.” Although the rents are higher, Kratt said companies would rather spend extra cash for quality structures (created by Colorado Springs companies including RTA Architects and Peak Professional Contractors) and more traffic.
     “We wanted to create long-term value,” Kratt said.
     They ensure that each lease is another asset that adds to and doesn’t conflict with the current tenant mix. For some businesses, enough demand is evident to justify covering certain areas of the market more thoroughly (food and beverage, sports and outdoors retailers, cell phone shops).
     Kratt and Cone said they’re picky when it comes to the tenants they allow to lease a piece of the shopping center. An estimated 20-25 percent of those who have shown interest in moving into the development have been denied because of legal or ethical issues pertaining to their other tenants.
     And their perseverance, patience and pickiness has paid off, Kratt said.
     “If we had built it out in 2010, Trader Joe’s wouldn’t have been ready,” he said. “We would have been built-out with no place for them to go and completely missed that opportunity.” 

A new front door
     The effects that UVC has had on job growth and tax revenue, though hard to track precisely because each tenant’s data is proprietary, are undeniable.
     Original estimates for Costco’s revenue generation alone were more than $125 million, and UCCS now estimates that around 500 of its students are employed at University Village.
     “Tax revenue has definitely been increasing every year so far,” Rees said. “The main goal was basically to stimulate development at UCCS and help them to develop the area surrounding their campus. That has been a great success.”
     Rees consulted on all of the URA’s revitalization efforts, including small projects such as Ivywild School and larger ones like the mixed-use and residential Gold Hill Mesa development in west Colorado Springs.
     “This is exactly the type of development we were looking for,” Rees said of the area’s revitalization.
     “They are all somewhat unique but follow the same model to encourage development, but University Village has definitely been the most successful in terms of dollars and cents.”
    It has also helped UCCS, spurring its westward expansion, connecting the campus with the North Nevada Corridor.
     “It cleaned up Nevada Avenue, making it a showcase,” Cone said. “Our success and their [UCCS’] success have really paralleled each other. Their growth in population, enrollment and their construction of new buildings have all mirrored the growth we’ve seen.”
     In five years, the school has built new student housing and the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences, bolstered its infrastructure and will soon start on projects including a Visual and Performing Arts Center and its City for Champions sports medicine complex.
     “UCCS is extremely pleased with the development of University Village,” Martin Wood, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Development, wrote in an email.
     “We have worked closely with Kevin Kratt and Tom Cone as they have developed the property into one of the most vibrant retail areas in the Pikes Peak region. We are thrilled with the energy and vibrancy this has created on the North Nevada corridor as the University continues its own development on the east side.”

University Village Colorado
Construction, seen in this photo from last summer, continues at University Village Colorado, as more tenants prepare to join the successful complex.

The future
     University Village is approaching its 650,000-square-foot buildout, and its developers hope to have the project wrapped up by the end of next year.
     It has attracted an array of businesses well-suited to Colorado living, including the widely popular Trader Joe’s based in California.
     That, coupled with Starbucks and other stores new to the center in 2014, continue to attract shoppers and those interested in further developing the land around it. 
     “It was really an infrastructure sweet spot and a geographic sweet spot,” Kratt said. “Then, when it opened, they realized what a strong economic driver the campus had become. … It became super-important for us to create an environment within the development where students could hang out and that was inviting for the kids as well as the faculty and staff.”
     As 2014 draws to a close, University Village Colorado sits at nearly 600,000 square feet with only one vacant padsite remaining.
     Kratt said the Village is preparing to welcome new tenants like Christy Sports, Venice Olive Oil Company and Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop, all expected to open in 2015.
     Nearby, the new Phil Winslow BMW dealership is under construction just west of Pulpit Rock, and talks are ongoing about the prospect of future multi-family housing development to the north of the thriving shopping center.
     “University Village has replaced a blighted area of our community, which has been very positive for the University in building our own brand,” Wood wrote.
     “We are thrilled with the number of student jobs that have been created in the various businesses, and the proximity of the Village is a great resource for our faculty, staff and students. University Village Colorado is a great resource for our community.” 


Colorado Springs Business Journal article of Trader Joe's 10/5/14

Trader Joe's University Village Colorado


Trader Joe's University Village Colorado



Gazette article of 08/24/2014

by Rich Laden

University Village Colorado Shopping Center

University Village Colorado Shopping Center