Discover Goodwill eyes Academy Boulevard location

May 17, 2013 Updated: May 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Discover Goodwill, hoping to consolidate the scattered operations that support its retail services, is looking at buying a 92,000-square-foot building on South Academy Boulevard, a move that could create 50 jobs, according to planning documents.

Goodwill spokesman Bradd Hafer emphasized Thursday that the deal is far from final. No contracts have been signed, and there is a lot more due diligence to be done before Goodwill makes the leap, he said.

But on Thursday, the Colorado Springs Planning Commission approved a variance to allow the property to be used for warehousing and distribution - a hurdle that needed to be cleared before Goodwill could go any further.

"This certainly gives more inspiration to consider this," Hafer said of the commission's decision. "But the big pieces - financing for it, the sell price - all of those issues would have to come into play. There are a lot of questions beyond just the variance and zoning requirements that need to be shored up before we could deem this the selection."

Still, it's apparent that Goodwill has given some thought to the property at 2855 S. Academy Blvd. A project statement included in Planning Commission documents says that about 34,000 square feet of the building would be used to sort items dropped off at Goodwill's multiple donation sites. Another 36,000 square feet would be used for storage, and 11,000 would be given over to a retail outlet store.

Hafer said Goodwill's retail support operations are scattered throughout the area, and the nonprofit believes it makes sense to consolidate its sorting and distribution work. The retail stores would stay put, he said.

"We have trucks coming an going from all locations in the region," he said. "If we could launch in a central location, that would make for a much more operationally and geographically friendly scenario for us."

The building, which was originally a big-box Home Base home improvement store, sits within the mayor's southeast economic opportunity zone. According to planning documents, Goodwill expects the project to create 50 jobs.

The property also is in an area designated as the Academy Boulevard Corridor Great Streets Plan, approved by City Council in 2011 to help revitalize the distressed stretch of road from Palmer Park Boulevard to the Drennan/Milton Proby Parkway area. Carl Schueler, senior planner with the city and project manager for the Great Streets Plan, said Goodwill would be a good fit for the building.

"It would be a productive use of this facility," he said. "The reality is, that part of Academy in particular tends to be over-retailed, so we won't have a traditional, high-end retailer in that space. This is better than having it vacant."

The property has two occupants, including the building's owner, VPE Global. It's unknown what arrangements, if any, would be made if Goodwill buys the building.

"Things are too much up in the air for me to try to say anything right now," said Jacqui Lochridge, executive assistant to VPE Global's president.

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