El Paso County has outpaced Denver as the most populated county in the state, according to U.S. Census data released Wednesday.
El Paso County’s population — now 622,263, according to the 2010 Census — grew by more than 20 percent from 2000 to 2010. In that same time, Colorado Springs grew by more than 15 percent to 416,427.
The data released Wednesday are the first in a decade showing population growth or decline at the neighborhood-level. In many ways, it shows what has been known in the Pikes Peak region for years — that growth continues in northeast Colorado Springs and areas outside the city. (To see neighborhood-level population changes see the interactive map below).
Some neighborhoods, including those in the northeast, have grown by double or triple digits. The area northeast of Powers and Stetson Hills boulevards, for example, grew more than 2,400 percent in the past decade.
Other areas, especially those in south Colorado Springs, including the South Academy Boulevard area, have suffered population declines. The Stratton Meadows neighborhood saw its population shrink by more than 17 percent.
“People are voting with their feet,” said Fred Crowley senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum. “This trend of moving north and east has been going on for 30 years, it’s becoming a major issue. It has consequences because it’s expensive to expand.”
He said growth patterns have created areas of boom and bust, as growing areas attract new businesses and shrinking areas lose them.
In the Hillside neighborhood, just west of Memorial Park and east of downtown Colorado Springs, the population has shrunk by more than 5 percent since 2000. Here, new businesses are scarce, and the Hillside Plaza stripmall has vacancies.
Nearby underpasses are tagged with graffiti and run-down rental houses mix with newly-restored historic homes.
Babette Stedman, president of the neighborhood association, moved in 13 years ago to be close to downtown and Memorial Park and enjoy the charm of an older home.
“I don’t care for cookie cutter houses,” she said. “We have history here.”
But the smaller homes, typically two to three bedrooms, have likely kept growing families away, she said.
In the fastest growing area of the county — northeast of Powers and Stetson Hills boulevards — large new single-family homes are flanked by chain restaurants and big box stores Costco, Target and others.
For Jennifer Riddle and her husband, Glen, the selling point was seeing children walking home from school.
“Where we were from in Georgia, that never happened,” she said. The couple and their 2-year-old son moved into their home in September.
Even though Glen Riddle has to make a 20- to 30-minute commute to Fort Carson, it’s worth it to live in the neighborhood, she said. They looked for a house closer to the post, and found some nice places, but still preferred the neighborhoods to the northeast.
“He didn’t mind the commute so we could live in a safer place,” she said. “This just seemed like a better neighborhood.”
Tom Binnings, a partner in Summit Economics, a local economic consulting firm, said this sentiment is what is driving many people to northeast Colorado Springs.
“A lot of it has to do with consumer preferences and homebuyer preferences in terms of where to locate,” he said.
Still, he said has hope for rejuvenation in the Hillside neighborhood. In time, as the lure of downtown attracts people, more people will move and invest there to be close by, he predicts.
He’s more concerned of areas along the South Academy Boulevard corridor that don’t have historic appeal or easy access to downtown.
“The thought of bringing in a major retailer or big box on South Academy, I don’t see that happening,” he said. “The lack of economic activity and declining population can last for decades.”
For more census information see the Data Geek blog at gazette.com.
Population changes in the Pikes Peak region
2010 2000 Percent change
El Paso County 622,263 516,929 20.38%
Colorado Springs 416,427 360,890 15.39%
Fountain 25,846 15,197 70.07%
Manitou Springs 4,992 4,980 0.24%
Monument 5,530 1,971 180.57%
Calhan 780 896 -12.95%
Teller County 23,350 20,555 13.6%
Cripple Creek 1,189 1,115 6.64%
Woodland Park 7,200 6,515 10.51%
* Source: Gazette analysis
AROUND THE STATE
* Colorado became more diverse and older during the last decade, according to 2010 Census data released Wednesday.
The hot growth spots were on the south and north ends of metro Denver and on the Western Slope along the I-70 corridor. Douglas County was once again the fastest growing county in the state and five towns in Weld County, led by Firestone, set the pace for incorporated places in Colorado. Their populations doubled and, in some case, tripled and quadrupled.
* Nearly as many Hispanic residents as white residents were added to Colorado’s population during the decade. Whites made up 70 percent of Colorado’s population in 2010, down from 74.5 percent in 2000.
The number of vacant homes also rose. Slightly more than one in ten homes were vacant, the 2010 Census found. That’s up from 8.3 percent in 2000.
– Burt Hubbard/I-News
Population changes in counties throughout the state
2010 population 2000 population Percent change
El Paso County 622,263 516,929 20.4%
Denver County 600,158 554,636 8.2%
Arapahoe County 572,003 487,967 17.2%
Jefferson County 534,543 527056 1.4%
Adams County 441,603 363,857 21.4%
Hinsdale County 843 790 6.7 %
Mineral County 712 831 -14.3%
San Juan County 699 558 25.3%
Douglas County 285,465 175,766 62.4%
Broomfield* 55,889 39,193 42.6%
Weld County 252,825 180,936 39.7%
Source: I-News Network
- The county of Broomfield did not exist in 2000. The population growth is as of 2001.