SPROUTS RENDERING

A new 23,646-square-foot Sprouts Farmers Market is planned southwest of Nevada and Ramona avenues as part of the South Nevada Avenue redevelopment project in Colorado Springs. The store would be the fourth for the Arizona-based Sprouts.

Sprouts Farmers Market will add a fourth store in Colorado Springs as part of the city’s South Nevada Avenue redevelopment project, a public-private effort to transform the blighted corridor into a thriving retail and tourist destination.

The Arizona-based, healthy living grocery will occupy a planned 23,646-square-foot building at 123 E. Ramona Ave., southwest of Nevada and Ramona avenues, in the new Creekwalk shopping center, which is being developed by The Equity Group, a Colorado Springs real estate company.

“It’s really going to be the most visible affirmation of our company’s redevelopment efforts on South Nevada,” said Equity Group owner Danny Mientka, who added he’s worked since 2007 to bring Sprouts to the area.

The Equity Group will construct Sprouts’ building, which the grocery will lease on a long-term basis, Mientka said. He expects to complete the building late next year.

The store’s opening, however, isn’t known; Sprouts expects to release details about an opening date next year, grocery spokesman Diego Romero said via email.

Sprouts, which has more than 360 locations in 23 states, also has Colorado Springs stores southwest of Powers Boulevard and Barnes Road, northwest of Academy and Dublin boulevards and southeast of Voyager Parkway and North Gate Boulevard.

Sprouts offers natural and organic foods; its stores include fresh produce, meat and seafood, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, packaged groceries, baked goods, dairy products, frozen foods, natural body care and household items.

A Sprouts produce distribution center that opened this year in Aurora, its first such facility in Colorado and sixth nationwide, has helped the chain accelerate its growth in areas such as Colorado Springs, Romero said.

Mientka’s Creekwalk is a five-building, 50,000-square-foot shopping center northwest of Nevada Avenue and Cheyenne Road. Construction is being completed and its first stores and restaurants are targeted to open in October.

In addition to restaurant, retail and service-oriented businesses, Creekwalk will feature upgraded and scenic areas along Cheyenne Creek, with a wide sidewalk for pedestrians, trees and sculptures, among other amenities.

The Sprouts store will be constructed on what Mientka calls Creekwalk North, a 2.8-acre addition to the main Creekwalk project. The south-facing store will have access via a traffic signal at Nevada and Ramona, from St. Elmo Avenue or coming up from the main portion of Creekwalk to the south.

Mientka expects the store to draw shoppers from the nearby Ivywild, Cheyenne Canyon, Skyway, Upper Skyway and Gold Hill Mesa neighborhoods, whose residents will have better access to Creekwalk via a traffic roundabout installed last year at Tejon, Ramona, Cheyenne Boulevard and Cascade Avenue.

“This is going to be a very successful store, in my opinion, and will again encourage more and more development along South Nevada Avenue,” Mientka said. “It’s a really tangible sign that our efforts to make public improvements and to mitigate blight in the area is paying off.”

In 2015, the Colorado Springs City Council designated 100 acres — bounded roughly by Interstate 25 on the north, Cheyenne Road on the south, Wahsatch Avenue on the east and Tejon on the west — as an urban renewal district and officially declared the area blighted.

The designation allowed increased sales and property tax revenues generated by new development in the district to be set aside to fund utility work, sidewalk improvements and other upgrades; that money acts as a financial incentive to encourage developers to invest in the area.

Mientka’s company is one of three groups that are revamping portions of the South Nevada and South Tejon Street corridors within the urban renewal area.

Mientka has been a longtime advocate of making over South Nevada in particular, which has been dominated for decades by 1950s-era motels, used-car lots and pawn shops, among other businesses.

In addition to Creekwalk, Springs businessman Sam Guadagnoli and developer Ray O’Sullivan have built a multi-tenant retail building northwest of Nevada and Ramona that’s home to Smashburger, Tokyo Joe’s, European Wax Center and an AT&T Store. They’ve also developed the Canyon Creek Townhomes along Cheyenne Boulevard and plan a hotel along South Tejon.

A third group headed by Salida and Colorado Springs developer Walt Harder has built the Shoppes on South Nevada, southwest of Nevada and Navajo Street. The retail center is home to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Chick-fil-A and a nearly 15,000-square-foot Natural Grocers that opened in 2017.

Natural Grocers and Sprouts have similar healthy living concepts, but Natural Grocers has an emphasis on vitamins and other specialty items that aren’t necessarily Sprouts’ focus, Mientka said. Sprouts, meanwhile, has a greater breadth of produce, meat and bakery offerings, he said.

“They both are positive participants in the corridor,” he said. “There’s plenty of room, plenty of pie for the two.”

Contact the writer: rich.laden@gazette.com

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