Kum & Go, opponents need money and a business plan

By: The Gazette editorial
July 27, 2013 Updated: July 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm
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As controversy builds in Old Colorado City involving Goodwill Industries and Kum & Go convenience stores, we encourage all interests to think outside of the box. Think about private property rights and use them to your advantage.

At issue are plans by Kum & Go to buy Goodwill's property on West Colorado Avenue, between North 23rd and 24th streets. Goodwill needs to sell the property to afford an anticipated move to 2855 S. Academy Blvd. Kum & Go wants the property in an ever-growing effort to increase the company's market share in Colorado Springs.

It would be a simple buyer-seller agreement, involving relatively routine city land-use approval, if it weren't for emerging concerns among residents who believe a giant convenience store with fuel pumps will harm the character of a historic neighborhood. Of course, the concerns are valid. A modern, 24-hour convenience store will bring light, noise and additional traffic to this quaint area of town.

Neither buyer nor seller has sinister intentions. Goodwill is a benevolent nonprofit that helps people with job training, employment placement, disability services and an array of other productive activities. Most of its operations are funded by retail thrift stores that help consumers obtain and reuse perfectly good clothing, appliances and other essentials.

Kum & Go is a user-friendly for-profit that sells groceries, snacks, personal items and affordable fuel. Consumers should remind themselves that an abundance of convenience stores results in more competitive pricing and therefore more-affordable fuel.

While executives of Kum & Go and Goodwill may well care about the concerns of those who wish to preserve the neighborhood, neither buyer nor seller can remain in business by placing those concerns first. Kum & Go needs property, and Goodwill needs to sell.

Those who wish to stop this transaction have the option of asking government to interfere. City officials have the option of responding, but doing so may threaten their responsibility to maintain and grow city revenues that are generated by retail sales.

Given the powerful market forces at play, we encourage those who wish to preserve the character of the neighborhood to work with market forces rather than against them. It's like working with Mother Nature, rather than against her, when deciding which flora to plant and nurture. Working against nature is typically a losing battle; while working with her bears fruit. All the same holds true when it comes to forces of the market.

Though Kum & Go was the first credible buyer to come forward, the company can still accept "financially viable backup offers" should the deal collapse. Goodwill asked $2.32 million for the property.

In our free society, private interests still maintain substantial control over properties they own. Therefore, we encourage neighborhood preservationists to quickly put together a viable business plan for the property, followed by a competitive bid. Pool assets and seek a large investor to back a property-use proposal that will pay for the investment and generate profits. Visualize turning the site into a location of quaint shops, designed as something far more suitable to the character of the neighborhood. Do so, because asking Goodwill to pass up a viable offer is asking far too much.

Concerns about the Kum & Go store are valid for anyone who wants to keep the neighborhood more or less as is. But reasonable use of any tract of private property should belong to the rightful owner or owners. Try to become the owners of this lot and craft it exactly as you please.

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