The Broadmoor hotel can move forward with its 93,500-square-foot exhibition hall since the Colorado Springs City Council shot down an appeal May 14 that sought to halt the project.
A 93,500-square-foot exhibition hall would be linked to the 60,000-square-foot Broadmoor Hall to the east, more than doubling the exhibition space for the growing Space Symposium.
Other events also could be held there in the off season from October through April, said Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli.
The council denied the appeal. Only Councilman Bill Murray supported it.
City staff had approved the proposal in February, with two variances for the building and a retaining wall to be taller than normally allowed.
But Walter Lawson and Cyndy Kulp appealed. The Planning Commission unanimously rejected the appeal in March, so they appealed to the council.
Lawson said they took issue with the development plan. Kulp said more cars would line the neighborhood’s already-taxed streets.
Donna Strom also warned that increased traffic and crowds could put lives at risk if a wildfire ever broke out there.
But Damioli said the project is not only well planned to suit the neighborhood and benefit the city, but also is necessary. High winds during the 2018 Space Symposium forced the event to close for a day, he said, and a structure would cure such setbacks.
The Broadmoor will offer shuttle services to avoid parking problems, said Chris Lieber, an owner of NES Inc., a land use firm hired by the hotel. Off-site parking also will be available.
“We have enough parking,” Damioli said.
If a wildfire breaks out, the area’s first responders “will get those folks out,” said Jim Reid, director of the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management.
Strom said evacuating the neighborhood during a fire would take more than 13 hours if the exhibition hall is built. Many, including Reid, took issue with her estimates and conclusions, though a fire is among chief concerns for the area.
Several high-profile representatives of the business community testified on behalf of The Broadmoor, and three residents opposed the project.
“For a week out of the year, I’m willing to suffer people parking up and down a very narrow street on which there are no sidewalks,” said Ann Pinney, who lives northwest of The Broadmoor. “But a week’s it. And then I’m tired of being abused as a neighbor.”
But more events would be a boon to the local economy, Damioli said. The expansion could add $30 million in economic benefit, boost tax revenue and shift up to 100 part-time jobs to full-time positions.
In casting his dissenting vote, Murray urged the council to send the proposal back to the Planning Commission to establish more precise parking and wildfire plans. Earlier, he questioned the impartiality of colleagues who have accepted money or other benefits from the hotel.
Councilman Tom Strand acknowledged that The Broadmoor donated $1,000 to his reelection campaign this year and held a campaign fundraiser. Damioli and another company executive also donated a combined $300 to him. But Strand said a city attorney advised he still could objectively consider and vote on the issue.
Councilman Don Knight said he received a $250 contribution from the hotel during his campaign two years ago, but he quipped that he more than paid that back by attending the hotel’s Easter brunch.
The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette and its sister papers, the Pikes Peak Newspapers, which includes the Edition.