COS End of Year Highlights #2: Public, private investment in Colorado Springs continues

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Despite the challenges of 2020, public and private investment remained strong, furthering Colorado Springs as a vibrant city that offers a high quality of life for its residents while continuing to attract a skilled workforce. Key infrastructure projects, along with the recent addition of several major employers, Colorado Springs continues to remain in the national spotlight.

Colorado Springs is making its mark as a City for Champions

In October, a 250-foot pedestrian bridge that will connect America the Beautiful Park with downtown Colorado Springs was hoisted into the air and placed on its abutments signaling the final phase of work before the bridge opens to the public in spring 2021. This masterfully orchestrated event was completed in an eight-hour window during which all trains transiting through Colorado Springs were held in place to complete the move.

 The iconic bridge, which has been envisioned in the downtown master planA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. for decades, is one of two key public infrastructure projects central to redeveloping southwest downtown. The second, a streetscape that aims to transform Vermijo Avenue into a wide, pedestrian and business-friendly “Signature Street.

 Vermijo Avenue, between Cascade Avenue and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum officially opened in October. Work to complete Vermijo Street, east of Cascade to the Tejon Street intersection underway through spring 2021 to complete the final blocks of this signature street.

While providing a classic aesthetic and gathering place at the foot of the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum, it will also be equipped to host temporary features and displays that can easily be updated or refreshed. In addition, the street will be ready for evolving smart technologies, from smart street lights to smart parking, kiosks and sensor-driven irrigation.

Extensive progress on the two southwest downtown City for Champions initiatives will strengthen and diversify the economic impact of our regional and state visitor attractions.

The June opening of the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum, a world-class attraction showcases the Olympic sport and highlights Team USA hopefuls living and training here in Colorado Springs. The southwest downtown pedestrian bridge provides a gateway to the 60,000 square foot museum, which acts as an anchor to the new City for Champions District.

Further south, the vision for a downtown sports and events center is almost a reality as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks are just months away from calling their new downtown stadium home. Construction on Weidner Field is quickly progressing with its first season game slated for April 2021.

Together, these projects invest in the redevelopment of Southwest downtown to create an urban destination that residents and visitors alike will enjoy for decades. This redevelopment marks one of the first transformative phases in southwest downtown. It is designed to fulfill the vision and framework to convert an underutilized corner of our city center into an extraordinary urban neighborhood.

Pikes Peak Summit Complex reaches key construction milestones

Each year more than half a million people travel to the summit of Pikes Peak, by car, bicycle or foot. The new Pikes Peak Summit Complex, under construction since 2018, will feature an immersive visitor experience designed to provide unobstructed views of the beautiful scenery of America's Mountain. Multimedia exhibits will tell the story and history of the mountain, welcoming visitors from around the globe and providing an elevated experience for all to experience the splendor of Pikes Peak.

Despite the challenges of building a new 38,000 square-foot visitor center on top of a 14,000-foot mountain, and amidst a global pandemic, progress is taking shape. Since construction is considered an essential activity, work hasn't been slowed by the pandemic even in spite of the additional safety measures taken to help protect workers and visitors.

“We are incredibly proud of the work completed by the hardworking women and men who are constructing the summit complex, especially in this challenging year. It’s been exciting to watch the continued progress, and we are looking forward to opening this sensational new visitor experience next year,” said Jack Glavan, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain manager. “We’d also like to thank those who visited us in 2020. The highway saw record attendance this fall, and it is a pleasure to serve those who leave it all behind for a few hours to make the journey to the top of Pikes Peak.”

Exterior construction finishes were a major focus during 2020 to ensure the building was watertight for interior work to complete during the cold weather months. Crews from GE Johnson Construction Company and other trade partners worked to finalize the northwest and south parking lots, the north overlook and east boardwalk system, the summit elevation marker and etched granite pavers, and the building’s mechanical systems.

Additional construction work completed in 2020 includes:

  • Permanent power established
  • Interior framing, doors, drywall and windows installed
  • North and east boardwalk system and lobby roof deck constructed
  • Mechanical equipment in lower-level mechanical room, generator and fuel tank installed
  • Donut machine positioned in place
  • Some kitchen equipment installed (freezer, refrigerator, etc.)
  • Exterior stone masonry completed
  • Summit elevation marker installed
  • Shutter track system and flooring work began
  • Permanent antenna communication locations installed
  • Paving at the High-Altitude Research Laboratory and visitor center employee parking area

Thanks to the considerable construction progress made in 2020, the project team anticipates completing the summit complex by spring 2021. Before the grand opening, upcoming project milestones include:

  • Placement of the east overlook plaque commemorating Katharine Lee Bates' writing of “America the Beautiful”
  • Completion of the south road, guest parking lot and stairs to the Cog Railway platform
  • Installation of boardwalk railing and plaza-level boulder and landscaping
  • Finalization of fully-operational lightning protection and building automated systems
  • Completion of site orientation areas of interest exhibits
  • Demolition of the 1960s-era Summit House visitor center

In 2020 it became more evident than ever that people are opting for outdoor adventures. To proactively respond to increased visitation while also meeting environmental certification criteria, crews are using sustainable building materials and constructing elevated walkways around the exterior of the complex to allow for the recovery of the summit's tundra ecosystem. The center will also boast its own wastewater treatment plant, with processed waste to be transported to composting facilities in nearby communities.

To this end, the design and build teams at RTA Architects/GWWO Architects and GE Johnson are pursuing LEED Silver certification for the new summit complex. The facility aims to be the first Living Building Challenge certified project constructed in Colorado. Meeting these demanding standards for green building means the summit complex will achieve Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Waste and Net Zero Water consumption. 

More information about the project, including ways to give, is available at ColoradoSprings.gov/SummitComplex. Click here to sign up for a monthly e-newsletter that provides in-depth project updates.

Peak Innovation Park

Peak Innovation Park has seen dramatic growth in 2020. The arrival of Amazon to the Park has set the course for expansive new development, where their announcement of the almost four million square foot fulfillment/distribution center brings significant improvements and new employment to southeast Colorado Springs. 

Another distribution center is also in final negotiations that will bring a 280,000 square foot facility on 35 acres to Peak and located just east of the current Amazon last mile distribution center. Like the Amazon Fulfillment Center, this development will include significant infrastructure development and will involve the extension and completion of Integration Loop to Peak Innovation Parkway where another roundabout would be constructed at the intersection.

Outside of the distribution center developments, the Airport has executed two agreements with Flywheel Capital, a developer that will bring Class A office developments to Peak Innovation Park for the aerospace and defense industry. Additional development by the Aerospace Corporation, where a state of the art 90,000 square foot building directly adjacent to their current facility is currently being constructed, as well as significant infrastructure development throughout the Park, has made 2020 the most active year for development in the history of the Colorado Springs Airport.  

There are several other potential developments in the works right now including a hotel, which has been pushed back due to the pandemic. As the level of employment increases with the completion of all of these developments, the airport expects to add supporting retail services in 2021, including convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants. With more development scheduled to start in 2021, this year has been a clear turning point for the Park and the future looks to only improve from here. All of this would not have been possible without our partner and master developer for the Park, Urban Frontier.

Air service at COS Airport reaches exciting new heights

While Peak Innovation Peak continues to expand into 2021, air service at the COS Airport is growing, as well. In October, Southwest Airlines announced in October that they will begin service on March 11, 2021 at the Colorado Springs Airport. With 13 daily flights to 5 destinations and access to an entirely new network of flights, their entry into the market will have a big impact on Colorado’s small airport and its community. Southwest's iconic hospitality, low fares, and customer-friendly policies mirror those values of COS, Colorado’s small airport.

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