Downtown Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs city skyline.

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved what members called the capstone on the city’s renaissance.

The council created a new urban renewal area downtown and revised an existing one to spur development there.

“Urban renewal is intended to cure blight, and clearly this area of our city needs to be cured of blight, but it can be so remarkable,” said Chris Jenkins, president of Nor’wood Development Group, about a revised urban renewal plan for southwest downtown. “You will not recognize Vermijo (Avenue) when you see what happens… it really is a world-class vision and plan, and it’s going to unfold in front of us.”

The two urban renewal areas are intended to revitalize south and southwest downtown, bringing hotels, apartments, restaurants and more. The URA designation means bonds can be issued to finance road and utility work, sidewalk upgrades and other improvements. That money is then repaid with resulting increased property and sales tax revenues in the area over the next 25 years.

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The revised URA covers 82 acres in southwest downtown, roughly bordered by Colorado Avenue and Cucharras Street to the north, Cimarron Street to the south, Cascade Avenue and Sahwatch Street to the east and Interstate 25 to the west. The council declared a 100-acre URA there in 2001, but little development ensued.

Restarting the 25-year clock on the 82 acres would benefit new and existing development there, city and business officials have said.

The U.S. Olympic Museum is under construction in the area, and Nor’wood wants to develop apartments, restaurants and offices there, with aesthetically pleasing sidewalks and streets.

The new URA, meanwhile, covers 1.5 acres southwest of Tejon and Costilla streets, where a Marriott-branded hotel is proposed. The site consists of a vacant lot and three buildings that would be demolished.

One of the developers behind the hotel proposal, Jim DiBiase of Olive Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs, said the project wouldn’t be feasible without the financial help provided by a URA.

The new urban renewal site also came at the October recommendation of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority, which found deteriorated buildings, unsafe conditions and other blight on the land.

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