Updated: September 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm
Kum & Go announced Wednesday that it has abandoned its plans to build a store in Old Colorado City.
The company had considered opening a 5,000-square-foot convenience store/fuel station along the south side of West Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets, the location of the Discover Goodwill drop off, recycling and other services, Kum & Go spokeswoman Traci Rodemeyer said. But the company won’t proceed because of several factors, including negative feedback from the surrounding community.
The company opened its first Kum & Go in the Colorado Spring market 15 months ago, and has 10 store/fuel stations in Colorado Springs, Rodemeyer said.
It also is considering building a store on the northeast corner of 21st and Broadway streets, about a half-mile from West Colorado Avenue, Rodemeyer said. That property is under contract, but the deal had not been finalized as of Wednesday, she said. Rodemeyer said the proposed Broadway location is not an alternative to the once proposed West Colorado Avenue site, and the company would have built at both locations.
But residents in western Colorado Springs signed petitions, started Facebook pages, protested in front of City Hall and attended public meetings with Kum & Go officials demanding the property be used for something more suitable to the community.
“Obviously there was a lot of input and feedback from the community,” Rodemeyer said, “and we take that feedback seriously.”
The company’s decision was a welcome surprise to west-side residents.
“I am thankful,” said resident Francis Colby, who joined protestors in front of City Hall on Aug. 27. “We want local business people, who want to invest and be a part of this urban development or urban renewal of Old Colorado City.”
Kum & Go had the right-of-first refusal on the 2.5 acre Goodwill property. The cancellation of its contract with Goodwill on Wednesday allows local investors, such as Joe Rexroad of Rexroad APG, to make an offer on the property for future projects.
“I am happy that the resistance has gotten what it wanted,” he said. “It gives us the green light to continue moving forward.”
Rexroad said he intends to inspect the Goodwill property on Friday and submit a monetary bid within the next two weeks. His preliminary plans could include the construction of first-floor retail shops with second-floor residential lofts. He is working to secure financing and had not submitted any design plans to the city planning department as of Wednesday.
Rexroad said he is not the only local development company considering the property. He said the acreage along West Colorado Avenue is “very attractive” because of the likely creation of a transportation corridor that will link Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs through Old Colorado City.
“There is a triad here that is suddenly a focus with the RTD that will connect Manitou like it hasn’t been before,” he said. “And I see that corridor as an area of growth over the next decade, and I want to be a part of that (because) it will be significant.”
No other company or person had made a formal bid for Goodwill’s property as of Wednesday, said Bradd Hafer, assistant director of communications for the non-profit. Goodwill opened its West Colorado Avenue site more than 40 years ago and has tried to sell the acreage and buildings for two years. Goodwill was asking $2.32 million for all its West Colorado Avenue properties, which included two houses and a building along the north side of the road. Rexroad said he and others did not bid on that amount of acreage because the size made it a poor investment.
Goodwill later agreed to sell only the southern section of its property to Kum & Go after the non-profit decided to spin off some of the north side property to Junior Achievement and retain its retail store on the corner of 23rd Street, Hafer said. Goodwill wants to sell its property on the south side of West Colorado Avenue so it can move to 2855 S. Academy Blvd.
Kum & Go’s withdrawal from its proposed contract with Goodwill delays the non-profit’s relocation, Hafer said. He said Goodwill needs the revenue from the sale to help pay for the new location.
“And we do not want to leave a vacant building that we are subject to making payments on or pay extra rent or utilities that are going to be a financial liability for us,” he said.
Opposition to Kum & Go’s west side plans was so strong the company dropped its bid for the property before submitting any formal development plans to the city’s planning department.
But Wednesday’s news does not end the battle, said Welling Clark, who heads the Organization of Westside Neighbors, or OWN. He said the company’s decision “provides a golden opportunity” for future growth, but residents, organizations and local groups must make sure that growth compliments Old Colorado City.
“We need to help find a company that will build a gateway to Old Colorado City that will look like an extension of the city,” he said, “and we need to do this as quickly as possible to help Goodwill.”
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.