Retail always follows rooftops, so the saying goes. But during the Great Recession, that pursuit got sidetracked as some retailers delayed expansion plans.
Now that the economy has improved, retailers are adding locations, which means that new centers are being built and partially developed ones are getting back on track and starting to fill up.
"Remember, we've gone though a down economy," said Mark Useman, a retail specialist with Colorado Springs Commercial, a local brokerage. "Now, we seem to be starting to come out of it, and retailers are taking more interest in locating in projects that have been planned for many, many years."
Will more stores and restaurants be too much for the area to absorb? Useman doesn't think so.
While it will take time to fill all of the storefronts, several newer shopping centers were built in high-growth areas where demand is expected to eventually fuel the addition of retailers.
"They're well-planned projects," Useman said. "They're in good areas where they've been developed, where you have some good, dense growth of both housing and business populations, and you've got major anchors to build around."
Here's a look at the status of a handful of major retail centers in the Pikes Peak region:
UNIVERSITY VILLAGE COLORADO
- Location: Northwest of Nevada Avenue and Garden of the Gods Road.
- Size: About 650,000 square feet on 75 acres.
- Developer: University Village Developers LLC, headed by Colorado Springs developer Kevin Kratt.
- Status: The retail center, near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was built along a stretch of North Nevada Avenue that the City Council declared an urban renewal site a decade ago. University Village replaced a series of old and rundown motels and other smaller buildings along the Nevada corridor.
University Village's first stores, slowed by the recession, opened in 2009; a handful of smaller retail buildings remain to be constructed, but the center now is 99 percent leased, Kratt said.
Anchors include Costco Wholesale Club, Kohl's department store, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and Stein Mart, and numerous restaurants include Hacienda Colorado, Bonefish Grill and Tokyo Joe's.
New retailers coming to University Village next month include Starbucks and Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop. The Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop - a San Diego-based steakhouse - is expected to open in October.
But University Village's biggest catch to date might be Trader Joe's. The super popular California-based specialty grocer is scheduled to open Oct. 10.
"We definitely have come out of the recession stronger than when we came in," Kratt said.
COPPER RIDGE AT NORTHGATE
- Location: Southeast of Interstate 25 and Northgate Boulevard on Colorado Springs' far north side.
- Size: Planned as a 2 million-square-foot retail center - including an enclosed mall - on about 200 acres.
- Developer: Northgate
Properties LLC, headed by Colorado Springs developer Gary Erickson.
- Status: The City Council declared Copper Ridge an urban renewal site in 2010. Council members decided the designation would allow future tax revenue generated by Copper Ridge's new development to fund construction of a final leg of Powers Boulevard that would connect it to Interstate 25.
The project's first anchor, Bass Pro Shops, opened in November 2013. It was followed in January by restaurant Bourbon Brothers Southern Kitchen.
Magnum Shooting Center is scheduled to open in mid-November and a C.B. & Potts restaurant and sports bar possibly will open late that month, Erickson said.
The proposed Colorado Grand Resort Hotel & Water Park, first announced in February 2012, remains a go for Copper Ridge, Erickson said.
Construction is expected to start early next year.
Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority documents show that Sprouts Farmers Market grocery, Kneaders Bakery & Cafe and Chick-fil-A are among retailers coming to Copper Ridge in 2015, while an Ace Hardware is possible.
Erickson declined to comment on those retailers.
- Location: Northeast of Powers Boulevard and Briargate Parkway on Colorado Springs' far northeast side.
- Size: About 426,000 square feet on nearly 51 acres.
- Developer: Continental Properties, suburban Milwaukee, Wis.
- Status: Briargate Crossing began taking shape in 2007; Super Target opened that year, and was joined over the years by Petco, Wells Fargo, Sally Beauty, FrostBites Frozen Yogurt and, more recently, Arby's and Kum & Go.
But Briargate Crossing's development was delayed by the 2007 recession, said Tim Marco, senior real estate manager with Continental Properties.
Briargate Crossing was planned in anticipation of thousands of homes to be built on the Springs' northeast side. But construction skidded during the recession, and the center's development slowed as a result, Marco said.
If not for the recession, Briargate Crossing would be nearly complete; instead, only about half has been built.
Now, interest in Briargate Crossing has picked up, and Continental Properties is actively negotiating with new retailers, Marco said.
Marco declined to disclose their identities.
- Location: Along Jackson Creek Parkway, north of Baptist Road in Monument
- Size: About 641,000 square feet on 88 acres.
- Developer: Vision Development of Colorado Springs; the center is now owned by a limited liability company controlled by THF Realty of St. Louis.
- Status: The shopping center, which has brought a variety of retail offerings to northern
El Paso County, is nearly completed.
Stores include a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Kohl's, Home Depot, Staples and PetSmart, along
with several smaller stores and sit-down and fast-food restaurants.
- Location: East of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway on Colorado Springs' far north side.
- Size: About 900,000 square feet on 131 acres.
- Developer: Nor'wood Development Group of Colorado Springs.
- Status: Nor'wood announced plans for InterQuest Marketplace in 2003, but probably only 5 percent of the project has been developed since that time, said Fred Veitch, a Nor'wood vice president.
"We don't mind building it slowly," Veitch said. "We just want to make sure we have an absolutely good mix of tenants who do extremely well. Everybody we have up there is doing very, very well. We want to build on that success."
A 14-screen Regal movie theater complex, a Brunswick Zone XL entertainment center, Cheddar's Casual Cafe, Colorado Mountain Brewery and a Kum & Go convenience store are part of InterQuest Marketplace.
Its newest addition: a seven-story, 180-room Drury Inn and Suites that's under construction and expected to open in 2015. Nor'wood officials also have said they plan to break ground next year on a 264-unit apartment complex that will be on the northeast corner of the retail center.
FIRST & MAIN
- Location: The east side of Powers Boulevard, from North Carefree Circle to Constitution Avenue, on Colorado Springs' east side.
- Size: About 1.4 million square feet on 134 acres.
- Developer: Nor'wood Development Group of Colorado Springs.
- Status: First & Main's development began around 2000, and it's become the area's largest retail complex - slightly bigger than either the Chapel Hills Mall or The Citadel mall.
Its anchors include J.C. Penney, Super Target, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, Dick's Sporting Goods and a 16-screen Cinemark movie theater complex, among others. Whole Foods, Big Lots, Cost Plus World Market, Staples and Pier 1 Imports also are part of First & Main's retail mix.
First & Main also established itself as a restaurant hub; its sit-down establishments include Tucanos Brazilian Grill, Rock Bottom Brewery, Old Chicago and Outback Steakhouse, while Panera Bread, Kneaders Bakery & Cafe, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Jack in the Box are among its fast casual and fast food choices.
First & Main is close to completion, with perhaps another 50,000 square feet still to be developed, Veitch said. Its latest additions include an 82-room Holiday Inn Express that opened in 2013 and an Ulta Beauty salon that opened this summer. Other newcomers planned for First & Main: Bar Louie, a so-called urban bar opening within 60 days, and women's clothiers Lane Bryant and Maurices, which will open next year.
MARKETS AT MESA RIDGE
- Location: Mesa Ridge Parkway and Fountain Mesa Road in Fountain
- Size: About 435,000 square feet on 100 acres.
- Developer: Nearon Enterprises of California and the Colorado Springs-area Janitell family.
- Status: A Safeway store built in 2001 was one of the project's first major retailers. It has been joined by Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, Walgreens, McDonald's, Noodles & Co. and several other restaurants and retailers.
First Choice Emergency Room opened Aug. 15, while Chick-fil-A will break ground late this year or early in 2015, said Rich Walker of First Properties Inc.
Walker also said Abba Eye Care and a national retailer he declined to identify have contracted to buy sites at the center; another 50,000 square feet remains to be built.
Growth at nearby Fort Carson has helped propel the Markets at Mesa Ridge, Walker said.
Despite misconceptions, military personnel have a lot of money to spend, he said.
SOUTH ACADEMY HIGHLANDS
- Location: Northwest of Interstate 25 and Academy Boulevard, just south of Colorado Springs.
- Size: Planned for 350,000 square feet on about 100 acres.
- Developer: UTW Academy Development, St. Louis.
- Status: One of the newest shopping areas planned for the Pikes Peak region was annexed by the city of Fountain last year. Site preparation work is underway, although construction has yet to start.
UTW officials did not return repeated telephone calls.
South Academy Highlands will be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Sam's Club. Both are expected to open in fall 2015, according to a marketing brochure prepared by Legend Retail Group in Denver, which is marketing the center.
A second phase calls for an additional 125,000 square feet.