Before we flip the calendar to 2019, The Gazette’s business staff is circling back to some of the biggest stories in 2018 to bring readers up to date. Here are followups on people, companies and developments the staff covered this year:

A building boom

Hospital construction has been booming in Colorado Springs during the past two years, and three major projects will be completed next year and another will be on the drawing board.

Major additions are under construction at St. Francis Medical Center at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard and UCHealth Memorial Hospital North at Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway. Both are expected to be completed in February and a 165-bed hospital built by Children’s Hospital Colorado is expected to open in late spring. The three projects cost nearly $400 million and will add hundreds of jobs for doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

But more hospital construction is on the way. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, which operates St. Francis Medical Center and Penrose Hospital, has abandoned plans to replace its main campus on Nevada Avenue with a new hospital at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard.

Instead, the nonprofit plans an extensive renovation of the main campus, more expansion at St. Francis Medical Center and the purchase of land on the far north end of the city for a third campus. Penrose also said it plans a major expansion of its primary care physician practices and clinics.

Amazon (or some other company) is coming

Online retail giant Amazon has landed in Colorado Springs — at the city’s airport — where it opened a temporary delivery station in November that employs 300 in a large tent near the airport’s rental car hub. The station at the airport is the final step in delivering merchandise to customers through either companies or individuals under contract to make deliveries for Amazon.

But does Amazon plan a larger facility in the Springs?

In November, the Colorado Springs City Council gave airport officials the green light to sell 88 acres in the airport’s business park to an unidentified Fortune 500 company for warehouses and distribution centers. When the council approved the sale, Councilman Bill Murray mentioned Amazon as a possible user of the property.

And this month, documents were submitted to city planners that spell out details of a distribution center to be built on the land. The documents were filed by companies that regularly work with Amazon on development of its distribution facilities.

City officials won’t comment, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Fortune 500 company that’s buying the 88 acres. But some business people say they expect the city to announce in 2019 that a larger Amazon presence is coming to the city’s airport.

Hotels on the way in Cripple Creek

Construction is expected to begin soon on major hotels adjacent to Cripple Creek’s two largest casino complexes — Bronco Billy’s and Triple Crown Casinos — with more likely to follow.

Bronco Billy’s plans to begin construction early next year on a parking garage that will clear the way for a $70 million hotel, both connected to the casino. The garage must be built first because the hotel will wipe out most of the casino’s parking, but the entire complex — that includes a 150-room hotel, spa, convention and entertainment space and upscale restaurant — is expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.

Triple Crown Casinos — which owns the Brass Ass, McGills and Midnight Rose casinos — plans to begin construction next spring on a $40 million project that will include 150 hotel rooms, an upscale rooftop restaurant, more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center, hot tubs, coffee shop, lounge and other amenities scheduled to open in late 2020.

Hotel projects also are planned by two other major Cripple Creek casino players: Colorado Springs-based Century Casinos Inc. and American Gaming Group, which owns the Wildwood Casino.

CVS enters the market

The Rhode Island-based pharmacy giant is expanding its footprint in Colorado Springs. After opening its first store and pharmacy at Woodmen Road and Lexington Drive in early 2018, CVS recently added a second location at Academy Boulevard and North Carefree Circle.

Now, CVS is preparing for its third store at the site of the old Tower Plaza strip shopping center, southeast of Platte Avenue and Circle Drive. CVS bought the property in March, and major retailers at Tower Plaza — including Midas, Short Stop Deluxe Burgers and Flowerama — have either closed or relocated. Their now vacant buildings are expected to be razed by CVS in 2019 to make way for a new pharmacy. CVS didn’t respond to requests for comment on its timetable.

Titan Robotics

For Titan Robotics, profiled early in the year, 2018 turned out to be “a great year,” says Maddie Guillory, chief marketing officer for the company and wife of founder Clay Guillory.

Titan builds and sells large-scale, industrial 3D printers; it also does print jobs for customers. This year, the company brought on two new business partners as co-owners and part of the management team — Bill Macy as chief technical officer and Rahul Kasat as chief commercial officer.

“We have also hired 12 new employees this year and will have tripled our revenues from 2017,” Maddie Guillory said via email. Titan, she noted, was also a Colorado Company to Watch award winner.

One of Titan’s more interesting projects in 2018, she said, wad 3D printing a giant Lombardi Trophy for the Philadelphia Eagles out of recycled plastic. Titan worked with another Colorado company on the project, “so while the trophy was for the Eagles and is on display there (in Philadelphia), it was entirely made here in Colorado.”

Million-dollar retreat

Hey, you pilots out there, your dream home still awaits.

As reported in August, Erik Payne, a “super-custom” home builder from California, is planning an enclave of up to eight million-dollar homes at Meadow Lake Airport, east of Colorado Springs, and each home will have its own hangar. (One of those will be his home). The first home remains for sale at $1.345 million; a second, slightly larger one will be on the market sometime in 2019, says Bill Kemp, the listing agent.

The first home, a 3,600-square-foot, Mediterranean-inspired ranch home, is “handcrafted top to bottom,” with three bedrooms (each with a private bathroom), a professional-grade kitchen, a finished oversized six-car garage — and an attached 3,200-square-foot hangar. That’s large enough, the marketing materials say, for four or five planes — “or a combination of toys.” The home, garage and hangar are all radiant-heat controlled.

There has been a lot of interest in the house, with two parties still looking at the property, Kemp says, “but no one has pulled the trigger yet.”

Kilyn’s Kitchen

In July, Colorado Springs-based Roth Premium Foods rolled out its Kilyn’s Kitchen family meals at about 300 Safeway, Albertsons, Randalls and Tom Thumb stores in a six-state region. Now the meals can be found in about 850 stores in a dozen states, says Mitchell Roth, president and COO of Roth Premium Foods. In addition, the company also has started direct-to-consumer sales (kilynskitchen.com); while the core business remains “inside the four walls of a grocery store,” Roth says, direct-to-consumer is a way to sell nationwide before gaining nationwide retail distribution.

There’s no prep and no cleanup with the Kilyn’s Kitchen meals, which include cabin goulash, pulled pork, smoked meatloaf and more. The meals come in a pouch that’s placed in boiling water for 25 minutes — “easiest cooking instructions ever,” the label proclaims. There have been some tweaks since launching the line, such as a shift from 3-pound meals to 2 pounds; shoppers, Roth says, found they had too many leftovers with 3 pounds. Some new packaging is coming in 2019 along with some new meals.

Even with “tremendous growth” in 2018, Roth expects more in the coming year. “I think 2019 is going to be kind of a banner year for us.”

City for Champions

Four projects that make up the City for Champions tourism initiative are in various stages of planning and construction.

U.S. Olympic Museum supporters say their downtown venue will be completed in 2019 and will open to the public in 2020. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, meanwhile, broke ground in October and is targeting an April 2020 completion for its sports medicine and performance center.

But backers of the two other City for Champions projects — a downtown sports and event center and a new Air Force Academy visitors center — face a crucial deadline in 2019 to launch their projects.

In December 2013, the Colorado Economic Development Commission committed $120.5 million in state funding over 30 years to help build the City for Champions projects, but required that “substantial work” was supposed to start on them within five years.

Unlike the Olympic Museum and UCCS project, no physical work has begun on the sports and events center (a 10,000-seat outdoor soccer stadium in southwest downtown and a 3,000-seat indoor venue at Colorado College) and the visitors center. As a result, city officials and their partners asked the commission in November for a one-year extension to meet the “substantial work” requirement for the sports facilities and visitors center.

The commission approved the extension. But that means backers now must make significant progress in the next several months on the sports and event center and visitors center or risk losing state funding for those projects.

In-N-Out is still in

In November 2017, California-based In-N-Out Burger announced it would expand to Colorado — and that the uber-popular chain would open its first restaurant in Colorado Springs while building a patty production plant and distribution facility in the Victory Ridge mixed-use development on the Springs’ north side.

A year later, the chain still hasn’t purchased its property in Victory Ridge, southeast of Voyager and InterQuest parkways.

But don’t worry; your double-double and other In-N-Out favorites still are on their way.

In-N-Out officials recently confirmed their plans for Colorado Springs. They hope to begin construction on the patty production and distribution facilities in the coming months and complete them in advance of opening their first restaurant “in late 2020,” Carl Arena, In-N-Out’s vice president for real estate and development, said via email. The restaurant will open on the corner of InterQuest and Voyager.

“We are very much looking forward to that day, and we appreciate our customers in Colorado who have shared their anticipation with us as well,” Arena said of the opening in Colorado Springs.

Country music coming to Colorado Springs

A new intimate concert venue is launching in early 2019 on Colorado Springs’ far north side.

Boot Barn Hall at Bourbon Brothers will open to the public in mid-February, with a grand opening to follow in March. It’s being developed by the owners of the Bourbon Brothers Smokehouse & Tavern and is being built next door to the restaurant and across from Bass Pro Shops in the Polaris Pointe retail complex, southeast of Interstate 25 and North Gate Boulevard.

California-based Boot Barn, one of the nation’s largest Western apparel retailers, recently secured naming rights for the facility, according to Bourbon Brothers’ owner.

Boot Barn Hall will specialize in country music and Southern rock for shows that will seat 400 to 1,200 concertgoers, depending on seating configurations. But the venue also will play host to weddings, proms, corporate gatherings and other events, while also featuring a farmer’s market.

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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