The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is growing again — this time in the heart of downtown.
UCCS, one of the state’s fastest growing universities and colleges, announced Monday it will establish a satellite location at 102 S. Tejon St. in Colorado Springs, just south of Tejon and Colorado Avenue.
UCCS Downtown, as it will be called, will launch Sept. 1 with what the school is calling a “pilot phase” of noncredit classes and programs for the 2018-19 school year. For 2019-20, UCCS plans to implement for-credit certificate and degree programs at the site.
“We see downtown as a very vibrant place and we see an opportunity for a win-win both for UCCS and for downtown by doing this,” Chancellor Venkat Reddy said after he announced the expansion to about 100 business, civic and political leaders at the school’s new Ent Center for the Arts.
“This will not only allow us to get closer to where our students are, we can also bring our alumni together because 80 percent our alumni stay in the state of Colorado, with 50 percent in Colorado Springs,” he said.
“We have alumni walking in downtown. And everyone today needs a life-long education. So we feel we can provide that bridge for our alumni and prospective students to continue their education as they do their jobs.”
In 2018-19, UCCS Downtown will offer the Teacher Leader Academy through the school’s College of Education; a mini-MBA program through the College of Business; concurrent enrollment programs; and certificate programs in nonprofit management, cybersecurity and more, according to the school. Programs for full-time undergraduate students, such as the chancellor’s leadership class, also will use the downtown location.
UCCS Downtown will be used to bring traditional academic classes downtown for “short-term experiences with community interaction and subject-matter experts,” according to the school. Business people can learn more about UCCS graduate programs and professional development activities for career and personal growth. A new UCCS speaker’s series will feature school faculty in seminars and lectures for residents and tourists
UCCS Downtown also will include a welcome and recruitment center, a meeting location for alumni events and community advisory boards and a box office to purchase tickets to arts and athletic events.
The downtown facility, Reddy said, will be about more than just classes. “At the end of the day,” he said, “this is bringing together the campus and the community.”
UCCS is partnering with Nor’wood Development Group, the Springs-based real estate giant, on its downtown location. UCCS will occupy 5,000 to 6,000 feet in a 25,000-square-foot building owned by Nor’wood, which the company will renovate for classroom, office and meeting space at its own cost and donate lease-free for at least the first year, Reddy said. He didn’t know how many students, faculty and university personnel will be on site.
“We are truly looking at this as a partnership” and not a traditional landlord-tenant relationship, Reddy said. That collaborative effort, he added, includes the city and the Downtown Partnership, the area’s leading advocacy group.
Nor’wood — whose hefty Colorado Springs portfolio includes suburban shopping centers, apartment buildings and office buildings it’s either built or purchased — bought the 12-story Alamo Corporate Center in 2005 at Tejon and Colorado. That purchase included the next-door, two-story annex building where UCCS will locate.
“When a university comes into an urban mix, there’s few things that are as dynamic as putting students, curriculum, workforce in those spaces where collaboration and continuing education can happen,” said Nor’wood president Chris Jenkins. “The youthfulness of it, that dynamism inside a downtown is a powerful thing that really only universities or other higher ed can bring to a downtown.”
While UCCS Downtown will occupy a portion of the building at 102 S. Tejon, its presence could grow, Reddy and Jenkins said. Depending on demand, UCCS could take more space in the building, occupy the entire structure or even look toward other portions of downtown for growth — including a Nor’wood commercial and residential redevelopment project planned for southwest downtown, they said.
“We are open to everything,” Reddy said. “We don’t want to shut out anything.”
Jenkins said UCCS’ growth could take it to other portions of downtown’s core, the area’s east side or southwest downtown.
“We’ve got a number of ideas that we’re going to put into the mix as we see how this initial phase one works,” Jenkins said. “If we can expand sufficiently there, great. If we need more space, we have some options.”
UCCS’ satellite campus isn’t the first higher-education presence in downtown. Colorado College sits on the area’s north edge, while Pikes Peak Community College has a downtown campus at 100 W. Pikes Peak Ave. that focuses on creative arts.
UCCS, meanwhile, has its Gallery of Contemporary Art at 121 S. Tejon in the Nor’wood-owned Plaza of the Rockies across the street.
But the addition of UCCS Downtown “is a real game changer” for the area, said Susan Edmondson, the Downtown Partnership’s president and CEO.
“One thing we know that’s catalytic in downtowns is to have that university presence,” she said, referring to UCCS, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.
UCCS’ arrival comes at a time when downtown is booming.
A 171-unit apartment building developed by Nor’wood and Griffis/Blessing of Colorado Springs is expected to open this summer at Colorado and Wahsatch avenues in downtown; the two companies also have launched construction of a second, 184-unit apartment building at Rio Grande Street and Cascade Avenue on downtown’s south edge.
Other projects under construction include the U.S. Olympic Museum at Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street; the expansion of a building on South Tejon that will accommodate the new Atomic Cowboy bar, Fat Sully’s Pizza and Denver Biscuit Co; and a Hilton Garden Inn at Bijou Street and Cascade. Two more hotels also are on the drawing board for downtown.
UCCS, northeast of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Nevada Avenue, has an on-campus enrollment of about 12,000 students and another 2,000 in online programs. The school offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 23 master’s and five doctoral degrees.