Colorado Springs' commercial building boom, which barreled through the COVID-19 pandemic with relatively few disruptions, shows no signs of a slowdown.
At the halfway point of 2021, construction continues on dozens of restaurants, hotels, apartments and other projects that remain on track to open this year, in 2022 or the following year. Developers, meanwhile, continue to bring forward more proposals for commercial construction.
"It hasn't slowed down," said Pikes Peak Regional Building Department head Roger Lovell, whose agency issues building permits and inspects residential and commercial construction projects. "It has not slowed down on the commercial sector and we're still seeing an increase in the number of plans coming in for commercial projects well over last year's levels."
Here’s an update on the status of several high-profile projects taking shape around Colorado Springs:
• In-N-Out Burger: The California fast-food chain arrived in Colorado Springs last year and opened its first restaurant in November southeast of InterQuest and Voyager parkways on the north side. Now, In-N-Out is adding a second location northeast of Powers Boulevard and Constitution Avenue on the east side.
Demolition of a former Outback Steakhouse on the site began in early March, and construction on the second In-N-Out was underway a month later, based on Regional Building Department permits. Most recently, construction crews have installed wood panels as they frame portions of the restaurant's exterior.
The location is expected to open in the fall, Denny Warnick, In-N-Out's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said via email.
In-N-Out restaurants open roughly five to six months after construction begins, company officials have said. If that pattern holds, the Powers-and-Constitution location would be on track to open in September or October, based on when construction began.
In-N-Out also has locations in Lakewood, Thornton and Castle Rock that are in various stages of construction, Warnick said. "While the construction process can be unpredictable, each of these locations should open by the end of 2021 if all goes well," he added.
• St. Francis Medical Center: Penrose-St. Francis Health Services continues its expansion of the 195-bed St Francis Medical Center, southeast of Powers and Woodmen Road.
The health care giant is finishing the addition of fifth and sixth floors to the hospital, which will provide room for an additional 60 inpatient beds, said Calvin Eisenach, St. Francis Medical Center's chief operating officer.
Steel and drywall are in place on the additional floors, but exterior work isn't yet completed, Eisenach said. Windows also must be installed and work remains to be done on the hospital roof, he said.
The hospital also is expanding a loading dock and ancillary services to accommodate the extra patient volume.
A second helicopter pad for emergency flight-for-life services is also being added on the roof of the hospital's newly added sixth floor, where a dedicated elevator will take patients directly to operating and emergency rooms, Eisenach said.
The project is targeted for completion in late spring of 2022.
• Downtown Marriott and Hyatt hotels: After decades without newly constructed hotels, downtown Colorado Springs is seeing a mini-surge of hospitality development.
The 120-room Hyatt Place is under construction on the southeast corner of Nevada Avenue and Bijou Street, across from City Hall, and is expected to open in mid to late September, said Avik Amin, managing partner of Pueblo-based AAA Hotel Developers.
The hotel also will have 1,100 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Talks are underway with potential tenants; Amin said he envisions a coffee or sandwich shop or even a cheese bar.
"In general, the market is recovering pretty well," Amin said of the hospitality industry. "We're optimistic. Of course, we're opening toward the end of the summer and into the slower (travel) season. But I think the market should do similar to the numbers it used to do before COVID. Or we're getting close to that, at least."
Meanwhile, developers of a 261-room hotel in the 400 block of South Tejon Street, which will carry Marriott's SpringHill Suites and Element brands, have targeted a March 2022 opening, said Jim DiBiase, a commercial broker with Olive Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs and a partner in the project.
The hotel — whose amenities for guests and the public will include rooftop and ground-floor restaurants, bars, meeting space and a courtyard — is expected to be a major addition to downtown's New South End, a multiblock area southeast of Vermijo and Cascade avenues that includes growing numbers of restaurants, bars and apartments.
"We want this hotel to be a community gathering place," DiBiase said. "We want it to be the place that people downtown, and frankly people citywide, want to come to for food and drinks. We have a big courtyard that we'll be doing wine tasting events on, dinner parties on. We want this to be a go-to place for people in town."
Leisure travel is making a comeback this year after the pandemic led to a drastic reduction in tourism, DiBiase said. Business travel, however, is recovering at a slower pace, and DiBiase said he's not sure if it will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.
Still, he's optimistic that the new hotel will see its share of business travelers.
"I’m old school, I kind of believe in face-to-face meetings and having a meal with somebody or a drink with somebody and getting teams together and sketching on white boards," DiBiase said. "In the short term, I think business travel will be a little slower to recover. But I think over the long term, people will recognize there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings."
• Robson Arena: Construction crews are finalizing work on the 3,400-seat Edward J. Robson Arena, an indoor venue near Cache La Poudre and Tejon streets on the campus of Colorado College, just north of downtown, said Vinnie Mattivi, senior project manager for general contractor Nunn Construction in Colorado Springs.
The arena will be the new home of the college’s hockey program and will open in the fall in time for the school's first hockey game, he said.
Major additions have been made to the venue over the last several months, Mattivi said. Stadium seating has been installed, along with a center ice scoreboard, scoreboards at both ends of the arena, hockey dasher boards, player benches and directional signs, he said.
Loudspeakers are being put in place throughout the seating bowl, while crews are starting up and checking previously installed heating, ventilating and cooling systems, he said. An on-site parking garage that will accommodate about 325 vehicles also has been completed, Mattivi said.
"It's quite the project," he said. "It's going to be a great experience for people coming to watch a game, that's for sure. It's going to be very loud and a very fun place to watch."
• Ent Credit Union: The Colorado Springs-based financial institution is nearing completion of a five-story, 300,000-square-foot headquarters on the city's far north side, northeast of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway.
The building's exterior is finished, landscaping is being finalized and work crews are checking off last-minute items to be completed, Fred Jacobs, an Ent spokesman, said via email.
Over the next several weeks, employees will start to move into the building by department in a staggered fashion, Jacobs said. Ent expects the organization will fully move into the building by Labor Day. The credit union is moving from its existing headquarters at I-25 and Woodmen Road.
• Downtown and southeast side apartments: The desire for multifamily living in Colorado Springs has exploded, as millennials, empty nesters and remote workers step up their demand for apartments, industry experts have said. Other cities have seen similar trends.
Several prominent apartment projects are in various stages of construction, and more are on the way.
On downtown Colorado Springs' east edge, the two- building, 217-unit Pikes Peak Plaza apartments is under construction northwest of Pikes Peak Avenue and Prospect Street.
Denver developer Taylor Turano, in partnership with longtime Springs developer Jeff Dunn and son Ryan Dunn of Denver, expect to open their first units in 2022.
A 5½-story parking garage is under construction on the west side of the Pikes Peak Plaza site, while wood framing of apartments is taking place on the east side.
Meanwhile, at Pikes Peak and Wahsatch avenues in downtown, Greystar Real Estate Partners has razed a vacant U.S Bank building and drive-thru and demolished a building that had housed the Pikes Peak Post 4051 Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Charleston, S.C.-based manager and developer of apartments nationwide plans a 320-unit apartment project on the site that's scheduled for completion in mid-2023. Formerly called Elan Pikes Peak, Greystar has renamed the project "Fiona."
Construction crews have erected a tower crane at the site, which will be used to lift and move heavy materials; started excavation; and launched the drilling of piers as part of the project's foundation work, Bo Chapman, Greystar's managing director of development, said via email.
Greystar has a second downtown apartment project in the works; it expects to complete the purchase of a site southeast of Weber and Cimarron streets in August and start construction the following month on a 282-unit apartment project.
Nor'wood Development Group, the Springs real estate company that co-developed the 171-unit 333 ECO apartments and the 177-unit Mae on Cascade, has started construction on a third downtown apartment complex — a 154-unit, two-building project northwest of Vermijo and Wahsatch avenues that the company calls VIM. The first units are supposed to open in 2022.
Rates haven't been set, but VIM will have "attainable" rents — less expensive than those at 333 ECO and the Mae, said Jeff Finn, a Nor'wood senior vice president.
On Colorado Springs' southeast side, Colorado Springs developer Darsey Nicklasson broke ground in March on Mosaica, a 223-unit apartment project east of Circle Drive and Hancock Expressway. Lot grading has been completed and sewer systems are being installed, she said.
Nicklasson envisions Mosaica as a family-oriented project with lower rents. Its buildings will have front porches, backyard-like common areas and other amenities to evoke a neighborhood look and feel, instead of a sprawling suburban apartment complex, she's said. The first units are expected to open next year.
Nicklasson also said she'll soon complete the purchase of a site northwest of Murray Boulevard and Pulsar Drive, where she plans Kaleidos, a similar, 150-unit apartment project. Construction on Kaleidos should begin this summer, she said.