From a downtown stadium to In-N-Out Burger’s distribution and production facilities on the north side, construction is moving ahead on several high-profile commercial projects in Colorado Springs — though delays also are being reported in some cases amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A spot check with some Springs-area general contractors, real estate developers and businesses shows work continues on a 178-unit apartment building, a 261-room Marriott-branded hotel and a multiuse stadium that will be home to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks soccer team. The projects are separated by a few blocks on downtown Colorado Springs’ south and southwest sides.
“Everything is continuing to move forward in spite of the larger climate out there,” Switchbacks President Nick Ragain, said of the stadium, where site preparation and utility work is underway southwest of Cimarron and Sahwatch streets.
The stadium — with 8,000 seats for the Switchbacks and 15,000 for other sports, concerts, graduations and the like — remains on track to open in March 2021, Ragain said.
In northern Colorado Springs, Ent Credit Union’s new five-story, 300,000-square-foot headquarters, a 220,000-square-foot Scheels All Sports store and smaller commercial buildings are under construction in the busy InterQuest area east of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway.
Nearby, In-N-Out Burger’s distribution center and patty production plant in the Victory Ridge mixed-use development still are scheduled to open this year in preparation for the uberpopular California chain’s Colorado expansion.
The facilities, which total 97,000 square feet and where walls have been going up for weeks, will serve In-N-Out restaurants around the state; the first In-N-Out is set to open at InterQuest and Voyager parkways in Victory Ridge.
“Our timeline is on target in Colorado,” Denny Warnick, In-N-Out’s vice president of operations, said via email. “We plan to open our distribution center and our first restaurants in late 2020.”
Otis Moore, a principal with Victory Ridge developer Westside Investment Partners of suburban Denver, said he expects In-N-Out will pull a building permit for its Springs restaurant in the next two to three weeks.
Projects at Nor’wood Development Group’s InterQuest Marketplace, including the Scheels store scheduled to open in 2021, are moving forward, said Fred Veitch, who oversees the company’s retail ventures.
Some tenants, such as restaurants, might delay moving into their retail spaces because of a state order temporarily banning dining-room service, Veitch said. Parry’s Pizzeria & Taphouse has postponed its early April opening at InterQuest Marketplace as a result of the state order.
Still, it’s difficult to know for certain the status of dozens of other commercial projects scattered around the city, and some have been delayed or seen a delay in getting materials as a result of COVID-19.
A 90-room, Home 2 Suites by Hilton hotel northwest of Fillmore Street and Nevada Avenue has been shelved for now, said Vince Colarelli of Colarelli Construction in Colorado Springs and the project’s general contractor.
The hotel is part of a California company’s plan to revamp the Fillmore Marketplace shopping center, where a VASA Fitness Center has opened inside a former Kmart and where another portion of that store is being remodeled to accommodate a movie theater complex and entertainment center.
“It’s postponed — put on furlough for a period of time” Colarelli said of the Home 2 Suites. “I’m anticipating that will last through the summer, but there’s been no definitive date at this point.”
Colarelli said about 15% of his company’s construction projects have been put on hold by clients.
His company is prepared to absorb the temporary loss of those projects, Colarelli said. A statewide, stay-at-home order issued Wednesday by Gov. Jared Polis exempted the construction industry, which will allow Colarelli and other general contractors to continue with projects.
GE Johnson Construction Co. in Colorado Springs hasn’t seen postponements of its local projects, spokeswoman Laura Rinker said.
But the company was supposed to be the general contractor on a large commercial development elsewhere on the Front Range, and a client has paused that project, she said.
Even as some projects move forward, general contractors and developers can’t always find the materials they need.
A 178-unit apartment building on South Cascade Avenue in downtown waited for months for the arrival of kitchen cabinets from China, said Jeff Finn of Nor’wood Development Group, which is developing the project with Griffis/Blessing of Colorado Springs.
Despite that delay, the apartment building is scheduled to open in the summer, although there’s no firm date yet, Finn said.
Colarelli said a mill work contractor that supplied his company with cabinets and countertops has shut down, and he’s has to scramble to find an alternative supplier.
Meanwhile, general contractors and subcontractors have adopted numerous safeguards to protect workers and the public from the spread of the coronavirus.
Company offices are cleaned and disinfected repeatedly, while many employees work remotely from home.
“We have a full-time person who’s doing nothing but wiping down our office, eight hours a day, every day,” Colarelli said.
Safeguards at construction sites are more extensive.
Signs are posted to remind employees about social distancing, hand washing and other requirements; schedules for construction crews are being staggered to reduce the number of employees who work together at job sites; and employees are advised to keep six feet apart.
Timely communication also has become critical, Colarelli said.
At the downtown Marriott-branded hotel under construction on South Tejon Street, Colarelli — a partner in the project as well as its general contractor — said a large TV has been placed in the middle of the work site to serve as a “community smart board.”
Workers can exchange and pull up messages on the TV — ensuring that a plumber and a drywall contractor who now work different shifts, for example, can communicate without talking to each other face to face, Colarelli said.
Each morning, someone from his construction project teams calls or emails subcontractors and suppliers to check the health of their workers, Colarelli said. If a third-party employee begins to show coronavirus symptoms, Colarelli said his company must find out immediately and determine if any of its workers might have been exposed.
Cleaning of construction equipment, tools and even portable toilets also is never ending.
“When you think about, for instance, just a ladder — how many people’s hands or gloves touch the rungs of a ladder,” Colarelli said.
“We put a guy out there that just wipes the ladder down. Then he goes over to the Port-o-let and wipes that down. We’re doing our best.”