Updates on Colorado Springs projects: YMCA plans, El Pollo Loco, farewell to Sears building | Subscriber-Only Content

Colorado Springs is booming.

Every day brings new opportunities for restaurants, shopping centers and housing subdivisions.

The Gazette tracks several of these projects, but they’ve evolved so quickly and furiously in recent years that the Gazette is unable to keep up with them. “whatever happened to…?”Springs residents often ask the same question.

Here’s an update about some of the high-profile commercial and residential projects The Gazette reported on over the past year.



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The Chapel Hills Mall’s old Sears store is being demolished in order to make way for a 300-unit apartment development by Evergreen Devco. This development company has offices in Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Construction of the apartment complex will start one to two months after demolition is completed. The Sears store was closed in March 2019. JERILEE BENNETT THE GAZETTE



• Sears disappears:Evergreen Devco is a real estate development firm with offices in Denver and Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles. It is razing the former Sears department shop at Chapel Hills Mall, northeastern of Academy and Briargate boulevards, in northern Colorado Springs.

Evergreen Devco has several commercial projects in different stages in the Pikes Peak area. It plans to build a 300-unit apartment complex on the Sears property. The project will be called Overlook Briargate.

The company announced its plans in 2020, and it completed its purchase of the Sears property by May. It began interior demolition of the former Sears shop a few months later. It’s now in the middle of razing its 40-year-old building.

Robert Place, Evergreen Devco’s multifamily director for Colorado, said that the company plans to complete the demolition in mid-to late December. He said that apartment building construction should start within one to two months of demolition being complete.

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The first apartments will open in 2023.

“I can imagine to longtime residents, a landmark is disappearing,”Place. “But I certainly hope that everyone’s pleased with the product we’re putting up there. I really feel like it’s going to rejuvenate a lot of the other retailers at the (mall).”

Sears, which was facing financial difficulties, closed its Chapel Hills Mall store and another at Broadmoor Towne Center, on the city’s south side, in March 2019.



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Boyd Williams, president of the YMCA Pikes Peak Region and CEO, spoke during a press conference. On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, new plans were revealed for the YMCA in Downtown Colorado Springs. The press conference took place in front of an old, boarded up gas station that was near the current YMCA. The old eyesore is being torn down to make way for the new building which will include affordable apartments. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette



• YMCA still looks to the future. In December 2019, the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region announced plans to build a new downtown recreation and wellness center.

The project — complicated and the largest the organization has ever undertaken — was delayed about six to nine months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Boyd Williams, the YMCA’s president and CEO.

He stated that the nonprofit is still moving ahead with the project, but with some modifications.

Williams stated that a new three-story YMCA building was planned for the northwest corner of a block bordered by Nevada and Platte avenues, Bijou and Weber streets. This was as Williams had envisioned it two years ago. The block is also owned by the YMCA.

Also as announced in 2019, the new building would be topped by several stories of apartments that would serve as workforce housing — less expensive units for teachers, public safety workers and others who can’t afford high-end properties.

Williams stated that the YMCA expects construction will begin in 2022’s second quarter, with a ribbon-cutting 20 months later. This means that the opening will take place in late 2023 or early 20,24.

The YMCA’s existing building would remain open to members during construction, but then would be torn down and the site redeveloped with still-to-be-determined new uses, he said.


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Williams announced that the YMCA is no longer partnering with Omaha, Neb.’s White Lotus Group.

Instead, the YMCA joined forces with Scott Henry, a former White Lotus executive. According to the company website, Henry is a cofounder of Celadon Partners Chicago (an affordable housing developer).

Henry was White Lotus’s essentially the same person when he was there. “the mastermind”Williams stated that Williams was the original YMCA project founder and that the organization chose to stay with Williams when he went on to Celadon. 

Williams stated that the YMCA, White Lotus, and White Lotus had envisioned commercial buildings in the 82,000-square-foot range. However, Williams said that it’s too early to predict what else the organization will do beyond the new building and the workforce housing component.

“Things are changed,”Williams said. “Now we’re with Celadon. So they’re going to identify what other priorities for this community are needed that would supplement this project with the next phase. At this point, that has not been determined.”



WHATABURGER RENDERING

Construction began on Colorado Springs’ first Whataburger location. It is located in the InterQuest Marketplace retail center, northeast of Interstate 25/InterQuest Parkway. Whataburger officials have announced that the restaurant will open in 2022, as opposed to what was originally planned. COURTESY RENDERING

• What about Whataburger? The Texas-based chain is a favorite among Texas hamburger lovers, but Colorado Springs will have to wait to get its made-to-order burgers or other menu items.

The InterQuest Marketplace shopping center is home to the first Whataburger in the region. It is located northeast of Interstate 25 on the city’s far northern side. It will be within a short distance of the first In-N-Out Burger in the area, a California chain that has a large following.

BurgerWorks Colorado in Texas, the franchisee that brought Whataburger to Colorado, held a groundbreaking ceremony in August. It stated that it expected to open the restaurant before the end of 2021. 


Colorado Springs has another Whataburger location in the works

However, a spokesperson for Whataburger’s corporate headquarters stated via email that the restaurant would not open until 2022. She did not give a date. The spokeswoman didn’t give any explanation for the restaurant’s new opening date.

Robert Garcia, a vice President at Nor’wood Development Group Colorado Springs and the developer of InterQuest Marketplace, stated that he’s been told Whataburger could open in February.  

• American Furniture Warehouse eyes Powers Boulevard.The suburban Denver furniture giant, which is one of the largest in the state, announced this year that it would build a showroom and warehouse measuring 355,000 square feet on 25 acres southeast Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road, on Colorado Springs’ fast growing northeast side.

The new location would be located in addition to the 145,000 square foot American Furniture Warehouse showroom/warehouse that opened in northwest Colorado Springs in 1999, west of Interstate 25.

Construction was initially planned to begin at the new Powers Boulevard location in this fall with completion expected in fall 2022.

But Nolan Morrison, who heads real estate development for American Furniture Warehouse, said the project was delayed because of soaring construction material costs. According to builders and general contractors, this problem was caused by a slowdown or stoppage in operation of lumber mills, manufacturing plant, and other producers of construction materials.


In-N-Out Burger closes to opening a 2nd Colorado Springs location

“Construction materials just got to an all-time high,”Morrison stated. “It didn’t make sense to build at the all-time high. By not building on this (original) schedule, we can probably save quite a bit of money.”

American Furniture Warehouse will now be looking to begin construction on its second location in fall 2022 and open in late 2023, Morrison stated.

“We can’t wait,”He said.



ACADEMY AND GALLEY DEVELOPMENT SITE

The former Toys R Us Building at Academy Boulevard and Galley Road on Colorado Springs’ East Side has been converted into an In Self Storage facility. The land in front of it and the Academy will be developed with Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and a national convenience. After Colorado Springs officials approved traffic and access upgrades for the site, the Academy-and-Galley area became attractive for development. RICH LADEN – THE GAZETTE



• New development at busy Academy Boulevard corner.A major transformation is taking place at the southwest corner of Academy Boulevard, Galley Road, on Colorado Springs’ eastside. It will bring a national fast-casual eatery to the area.

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, a Louisiana-based chain, will open its fourth Springs location at Academy and Galley. Last month, it also completed a $2.2million purchase of nearly 1 acre at the corner.

Patrick Kerscher, vice president of the Colorado Springs office at national real estate firm CBRE said Raising Cane’s will soon begin construction on its new restaurant. However, an opening date has not been set. Kerscher represented Dunton Commercial, Denver as the property owner in the sale of the property.

Kerscher also stated that a national convenience chain will lease a parcel to Raising Cane’s south, where it will build a site.

Raising Cane’s and the convenience store chain will join In Self Storage in Denver, which last year paid $1.5million to buy the former Toys R Us building. In Self Storage has opened a storage unit at the site after renovating the building.

“The traffic counts along Academy and Galley are very strong,”He said. “The density of rooftops (in the area) is very appealing to retailers that require high volumes of customers per day.”

Kerscher said that the Academy-and-Galley corner has become more appealing after Colorado Springs officials approved traffic upgrades.


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He stated that a new right-in/right-out turn lane will allow eastbound Galley access to the site. A left turn lane was also added to allow traffic to access site from northbound Academy.

“That changed the site from a destination retail user in Toys R Us to something that now can be convenient for fast food and fuel convenience-type users,” Kerscher said. “That was the game changer on the site, the increased access there that was permitted by the city.”

• More chicken on the way.Two chicken-focused national brands are expanding in Colorado Springs. One third is still trying its best to get into the market.

Chick-fil-A, Atlanta, is proceeding with regulatory approvals and construction approvals for its planned demolition of a retail store at the Citadel Crossing shopping centre, northeast of Academy Boulevard, Platte Avenue.

Rodriguez announced that the last remaining retailer in this building was the Casual Male XL clothing shop. According to the chain’s website the retailer no more has a store at Springs. Comfort Dental, which also occupied this building, has moved to Citadel Crossing.

According to plans submitted by Chick-fil-A to Colorado Springs city officials this year, Chick-fil-A would construct a new restaurant in place of the existing retail building. According to Patrick Nesbitt, Citadel Crossing developer, the chain will own the building but lease the ground below.

Rodriguez stated that he does not know the timetable for demolition and construction.

Rodriguez stated that Chickfil-A will be a big business when it opens. This is because of its location’s visibility along Academy Street and Platte as well as the easy access to the shopping mall.

“I think it’s going to be a monster,” Rodriguez said.

He said that the chain had been looking at several locations in the area for many years before it chose Citadel Crossing. Chick-fil-A also closed its Citadel Mall food court in this year.

Buffalo Wild Wings, a subsidiary of Atlanta, is still working on plans to open a new restaurant and bar in the First & Main Town Center. It will be located in an area southeast of Powers Boulevard, South Carefree Circle, and Powers Boulevard.

Buffalo Wild Wings had submitted in January 2020 a proposal to the city planning officers that showed it would raze the former Mimi’s Restaurant at the site and build a new building.

Garcia of Nor’wood Development Group said that the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project. Garcia built First & Main, the sprawling eastside retail complex that includes dozens of restaurants and big-box retailers as well as smaller stores and entertainment venues.

Mimi’s building was demolished by Nor’wood two months ago. Buffalo Wild Wings plans to open its restaurant this month. Garcia said. In 2022, it is likely that the restaurant will open.

Officials at Buffalo Wild Wings didn’t respond when asked.

“It’s definitely a positive,”Garcia spoke highly of Buffalo Wild Wing’s addition on First & Main. “They’re a use that is unique to First & Main, being wings and kind of a sports atmosphere. We’re excited about having that open up. It’s a nice complement.”

El Pollo Loco, a California-based chicken franchise, announced in February it would expand its reach to Colorado Springs and Denver markets, with up to 20 franchised locations.

El Pollo Loco had no franchisees signed at the time it was announced and had no locations.

El Pollo Loco reported last month that it has signed two franchisees for Denver. One of these franchisees would open four restaurants on Denver’s east side while the other would open four more on Denver’s west side.

El Pollo Loco chicken will be available to residents in the Pikes Peak area, but they will need to travel north if El Pollo Loco is to be opened in Colorado Springs.

“Having recently signed two separate agreements for eight total restaurants in Denver, we’re continuing to speak with prospective franchise partners to help expand our footprint into Colorado Springs as well,” Brian Carmichall, El Pollo Loco’s chief development officer, said via email.

• Homes coming to the former Springs Ranch Golf Club.Colorado Springs-based Classic Cos. is one of the largest homebuilders and real estate developers in the city. It has begun development of the Greenways At Sand Creek on the former 200-acre Springs Ranch Golf Club site. The Tutt Boulevard site for the housing project is located east of Tutt Boulevard between South Carefree Circles and North Carefree Circles, with a portion stretching north of North Carefree.

After Springs Ranch Golf Club’s previous owner wanted to retire, Classic proposed the Greenways of Sand Creek in 2019.

Classic’s proposal to redevelop a golf course with more than 900 single-family houses, townhomes, and condominiums was approved by the city in 2020. This came after opposition from many local residents. A Dallas realty company plans to build a 330-unit apartment building on the Greenways at Sand Creek site.

Classic demolished the clubhouse on the property in order to prepare it for residential development. Classic also renovated and remodelled a former maintenance facility for the golf course, which will house a new home sales centre and construction operations for Greenways.

The initial 40-acre Greenways at Sand Creek portion, north of North Carefree Circle, saw home sales begin recently. Classic committed to nearby residents that the area would only be developed with 121 ranch-style single-family homes. 

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