Dec 17, 2013 6:47 PM by Andy Koen

Champions project brings uncertainty for some local shops

COLORADO SPRINGS - Lost in the excitement surrounding the City for Champions downtown redevelopment deal are the local business owners who currently have shops on the land in question. Some say they're concerned about the impact that moving will have on the strength of their companies.

The folks at Olson Plumbing and Heating like their location on West Cucharras Street downtown.

"It's easy access for our service business all over town, and it's easy access for people to deliver stuff to us," explains owner Mike Trapp.

As it turns out, backers of the City for Champions Redevelopment deal like it too. Artist renderings show a new US Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame being built right on Olson's property.

"We were trying to decide if we were on first base or third when it was the Sky Sox deal," Trapp joked.

He knows the redevelopment deal would spur job growth and help revitalize the downtown area. However, Trapp doesn't want to see his company jeopardized financially.

"It's our concern that they, the people that are doing this, make sure that we're taken care of in this move."

Across the street, the Piano Warehouse sits on a site shown in drawings as the location for a new downtown stadium.

"I think it's great," said owner Rick Vokt said of the City for Champions plan. "The more people we can get interested in downtown the better."

He leases his building and only hopes the redevelopment won't make properties near the stadium too expensive for him to stay in the neighborhood.

"That's the only thing that scares me is this is very affordable area," Vokt said.

The properties are located in the South West Urban Renewal Zone. The City of Colorado Springs could use eminent domain to take ownership of the land, but city economic vitality analyst Bob Cope said that's not really an option.

"At this point eminent domain and condemnation are topics that we don't even want to consider," Hope said.

Instead, the Cope said the city is considering negotiating purchases with landowners when the time is right.

He points out that the South West Urban Renewal Zone consists of 100 acres of property, a space big enough to give the city flexibility when selecting a final site.

The Nor'wood Development Corporation owns several parcels in the renewal zone and Cope said the company is committed to participating in the project. In fact, Nor'wood president Chris Jenkins is one of the key members of the group pushing the City for Champions idea.

On Monday, the Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded the project with $120 million in state tax incentives to jump start construction. In addition to the stadium and museum, the project would also build a new visitors center at the Air Force Academy and a Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.



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