A local development company that built the 22 Spruce Apartments west of downtown plans to add a second apartment project a few blocks away, hoping to appeal to renters who want to be near Colorado Springs’ urban core and the west side’s brewpubs, restaurants and other businesses.

Goodwin Knight, headed by Challenger Homes founder Brian Bahr, has proposed a four-story, 54-unit apartment building on what is now a parking lot on the northeast corner of Colorado Avenue and Chestnut Street, documents submitted to city planners show.

In a best-case scenario, Goodwin Knight hopes to begin the project’s construction toward the end of the first quarter in 2020 and open a year later, said Bryan Kniep, the company’s vice president of planning and community development.

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The four-story, 46-unit 22 Spruce Apartments opened a few years ago southwest of Bijou and Spruce streets and has been successful from a leasing standpoint, which prompted Goodwin Knight to look for another project, Kniep said. The group also liked 22 Spruce’s location on downtown’s west edge.

“We started to kind of look around at other potential infill locations in the downtown area,” Kniep said. “We like the west side a lot. There’s a lot of potential here from an Old Colorado City perspective, to have people being able to just continue walking and growing that entire section of downtown. It’s a little underserved from a new development standpoint.”

The new building’s location along West Colorado Avenue is within walking distance of downtown and along a city bus route, Kniep said.

It’s also near a burgeoning mix of stores, bars and restaurants. The 503W restaurant and craft bar is across the street, while the Cerberus Brewing Co. and N3 Taphouse are just west on Colorado Avenue, among other businesses. Historic Old Colorado City — with restaurants, shops and galleries — is farther west along Colorado.

“There’s a lot of stuff happening in kind of just this little enclave of downtown and it kind of sits between Old Colorado City and Tejon Street (downtown’s main retail corridor),” he said.

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The building would have 10 efficiencies and 44 one-bedroom units, ranging from 376 square feet to 665 square feet, according to the proposal submitted to city planners. No two-bedroom apartments are planned; though 22 Spruce included two-bedroom units, Kniep said they proved less popular while studios are rarely vacant.

Rents are envisioned to be similar to those at 22 Spruce, which average about $1,300 to $1,400 a month, Kniep said.

The building would sit on top of a below-grade parking garage, while amenities would include a fitness room, street side and rooftop patios and bike storage. A PikeRide station for downtown’s bike sharing program also is envisioned as part of the project.

The demand for apartments has ratcheted up in recent years as the economy has improved and some people — such as millennials and empty nesters — prefer maintenance-free living over being tied to a single-family home and a mortgage.

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Local rents have soared in recent years to reflect that demand, averaging a record high of nearly $1,172 a month during the first quarter of this year, according to the Colorado Division of Housing.

Apartment construction also has taken off, with several sprawling suburban complexes built in recent years and more on the way.

But downtown is seeing its share of urban-style projects — multistory buildings with smaller units for renters who want to walk or bike to coffee shops, bars and places of employment.

The 171-unit 333 ECO apartments and 33-unit Blue Dot Place have opened in recent years downtown, while the 27-unit Casa Mundi Lofts will open by year’s end or in early 2020 and a 184-unit apartment building is targeted to open in late spring or early summer of next year.

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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