Interest is running high in InterQuest.

Ringed by neighborhoods such as Flying Horse, Briargate and Northgate, the area east of InterQuest Parkway and Interstate 25 on Colorado Springs' far north side — with InterQuest and Voyager parkways as its epicenter — has evolved into one of the city's busiest commercial hubs. And it's still growing.

Restaurants, hotels, apartments, entertainment centers and major employers all call InterQuest home.

Over the next several years, the InterQuest area will welcome Ent Credit Union's new headquarters, which eventually will employ more than 1,000 people; a third Penrose-St. Francis hospital with upward of 200 beds; and a Scheels All Sports outdoor apparel and equipment store expected to draw shoppers from well beyond the Springs.

Then there's In-N-Out Burger, the uber-popular California chain that's expanding to Colorado. In-N-Out plans to build a patty production plant and distribution center that will open next year east of InterQuest and Voyager parkways to serve its Colorado restaurants. And In-N-Out's first location will open at the corner of InterQuest and Voyager in late 2020.

"When you have four or five major announcements, like Penrose-St. Francis and the new Ent campus, Scheels All Sports going across the street, which is a huge anchor, In-N-Out Burger, not only opening a store, but doing the distribution plant, which will add additional employment, all those factors, now people are really paying attention to that area," said Mark Useman of Colorado Springs Commercial.

InterQuest Commons, which Useman markets, is one of the area's three major commercial centers, along with InterQuest Marketplace and Victory Ridge.

Why is the area so popular?

"Because that's where the growth is," said Michael Palmer, a commercial broker with Quantum Commercial Group in the Springs who markets properties in the area.

For decades, Colorado Springs has grown to the north and northeast. Retail follows rooftops, as the industry saying goes, and dozens of businesses have flocked to the area to serve thousands of single-family homes and apartments that are a short drive away.

But other factors are at work, too:

• Land. As humorist Will Rogers famously said, "they ain't making any more of the stuff." Large, undeveloped parcels are available in the InterQuest area, making it attractive for retailers, hotel groups and office and multi-family developers, said Patrick Kerscher, a broker with the local office of national real estate firm CBRE and who's marketing Victory Ridge.

"Anybody looking to expand, that's a very promising area," Kerscher said.

• Demographics. Colorado Springs' far north side has some of the area's highest household incomes and strong population growth, which attract retailers and restaurants. 

• Need. Despite nearby residential growth, the area has lacked stores, restaurants, gas stations and other retail uses for years, Useman and Kerscher said. Hotels also are popping up to serve demand created by the Air Force Academy to the west and several employers who've set up offices and plants in the area.

• Access. InterQuest and Voyager parkways are major roads in and out of the area, which also is a short drive for thousands of I-25 motorists. Powers Boulevard also brings traffic to the area from the south and currently ends at InterQuest Parkway.

• Daytime population. Stores and restaurants want to serve northside neighborhoods. But several major employers who have large numbers of daytime workers — such as Bal Seal Engineering, Cherwell Software and the future In-N-Out plant — also make the InterQuest area appealing for new businesses. 

"We've got so much daytime employment coming to also help support future retail growth," Useman said. 

• Success. As some restaurants, hotels and other businesses do well, others are attracted to the area, said Fred Veitch, a vice president with Nor'wood Development Group of Colorado Springs, which is building InterQuest Marketplace.

On a website, Nor'wood lists some of the sales performances of retailers and restaurants at InterQuest Marketplace. A Kum & Go convenience store, for example, was No. 1 last year for gross sales in Colorado and No. 2 among all of the Iowa-based chain's more than 400 locations, Nor'wood says. 

"People are pretty savvy about where they're putting businesses, and why, and they're being thoughtful about it," Veitch said. "Markets that are strong create demand. And that InterQuest area is really creating tremendous demand right now."

Don't expect InterQuest's growth to slow anytime soon.

Even if interest rates rise and the national economy slows, there's enough momentum locally to continue to fuel the area's development for at least the next three years, Kerscher said. 

"The hospital will take three to five years for construction and all of these other multi-family projects will take a while," he said. "In-N-Out will take a while to develop. Locally, we've got a good story to tell for the foreseeable future."

WHAT'S THERE NOW: RESTAURANTS, RETAILERS, HOTELS, SERVICE-ORIENTED BUSINESSES, MAJOR EMPLOYERS AND KEY INSTITUTIONS

1. Great Wolf Lodge, the family-themed resort with more than 300 suites, a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park, miniature golf, restaurants and stores.

2. Regal InterQuest, a 14-screen movie theater complex.  

3. The Summit, an entertainment center that features bowling, laser tag, arcade games, a virtual reality experience and a restaurant and sports bar.

4. Drury Inn & Suites, a seven-story, 180-room hotel with more than 2,700 square feet of meeting space.

5. Standalone and multi-tenant buildings along InterQuest Parkway in the InterQuest Marketplace shopping center, whose tenants and users include Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Colorado Mountain Brewery, Starbucks, Bank of Colorado, Kum & Go, Ent Credit Union, Jersey Mike's, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Zoup! and Dickey's Barbecue Pit.

6. Springs at Allison Valley, a 280-unit apartment complex.

7. Overlook at InterQuest, a 264-unit apartment complex

8. New Life Church, whose multiple buildings serve about 12,000 active congregation members.

9: Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Range Campus and The Classical Academy East Campus.

10. 5Star Bank, one of three area locations for the financial institution.

11. Office building, whose tenants include Xledger USA, a business services, consulting and information technology firm.

12. Standalone and multi-tenant buildings along InterQuest Parkway in the InterQuest Commons shopping center, whose tenants and users include Fuzzy's Taco Shop, Anthony's Pizza, Baskin-Robbins, Jimmy John's, Omelettes Etc., Atmosphere Gastropub and InterQuest Liquors.

13. Multi-tenant office building, whose tenants include Albert Vein Institute, BCER Engineering and Church Community Builder.

14. Residence Inn, a 131-room hotel.

15. Hampton Inn & Suites, a 75-room hotel.

16. Holiday Inn Express & Suites, an 87-room hotel.

17. Bal Seal Engineering manufacturing plant.

18. Multiple buildings along Federal Drive, whose tenants and users include Ford Motor Credit, Lockheed Martin, United Healthcare and Royal Phillips.

19. Icon Cinema, a 14-screen movie theater complex.

20. SAP America data center

21. Walmart data center.

22. Office complex along Federal Drive, whose tenants and users include Cherwell Software, ConcealFab Corp. and Charis Christian Center.

WHAT'S COMING: PLANNED, PROPOSED AND UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

A. Ent Credit Union's five-story, nearly 325,000-square-foot headquarters, scheduled to open in 2021.

B: A 264-unit apartment complex proposed by Wisconsin-based Continental Properties.

C. Scheels All Sports' 220,000-square-foot outdoor store, scheduled to open in 2021.

D. Burger King fast-food restaurant, under construction and scheduled to open in the next few months.

E. & F. A planned 20,000-square-foot retail building and a 320-unit apartment complex under construction, proposed by Bayley Yandell Development of Texas.

G. Planned Penrose-St. Francis hospital by Centura Health of suburban Denver.

H. Convenience store, under construction.

I. Proposed hotel.

J. Springhill Suites, a four-story, 100-room hotel under construction and scheduled to open in August.

K. The 288-unit FalconView apartments, being developed by Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners of Denver and under construction.

L. In-N-Out Burger's first restaurant, scheduled to open in late 2020 and to be flanked by roughly 10,000-square-foot, multi-tenant retail buildings being developed by Westside Investment Partners of suburban Denver.

M. In-N-Out Burger's patty production and distribution facility, scheduled to open in 2020.

N. Planned 221-townhome project by Lokal Homes of Englewood.

O. Field of Dreams recreation complex.

Sources: Gazette research; company websites; city of Colorado Springs

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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