Introduction: Vision and Big Ideas

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Our Vision

We will build a great city that matches our scenery.

In the coming decades, Colorado Springs will become a vibrant community that reflects our engaging outdoor setting as pioneers of health and recreation. Our city will be filled with unique places of culture and creative energy, sustainably designed around our natural environment. We will attract and retain residents of all generations with an innovative, diverse economy, and dynamic, well-connected neighborhoods that provide viable housing opportunities for all.

To achieve our Vision, this Plan is organized around six powerful vision themes. These themes are the result of conversations with our community. Very few comprehensive plans are organized this way.

Vibrant Neighborhoods

Forms diverse and safe neighborhoods with quality gathering areas, a mix of housing types, transportation choices, and a shared sense of pride. 

Unique Places

Centers on a vibrant Downtown and is strengthened by our reinvestment in walkable, healthy, and magnetic activity centers that are located in new and reinvented areas throughout the city.

Thriving Economy

Fosters an environment of inclusivity and economic diversity by attracting an innovative and adaptive workforce, advancing existing and targeted employment sectors, investing in quality of life, supporting our military, and expanding our sports ecosystem as Olympic City USA.

Strong Connections

Adapts to how we move by transforming our corridors to support our future generations’ health and mobility needs, enhancing economic vibrancy, upgrading infrastructure, and improving regional connectivity.

Renowned Culture

Promotes and embraces arts, culture, and education as essential parts of our lives and our identity. This builds on the efforts of General Palmer and many others that envisioned culture as the cornerstone of the community and where creative energy generates new possibilities, interpersonal connections, and unprecedented philanthropy.

Majestic Landscapes

Values our natural and man-made outdoor spaces and celebrates our location at the base of America’s Mountain by designing a city oriented around our iconic landmarks. We ensure our community can engage with and enjoy these places through an integrated system of parks, streetscapes, and natural areas.

Our Big Ideas 

Each of our themes is supported by Big Ideas that keep us focused on the most important things that will shape our future city. These ideas provide the basis for our goals and the more detailed contents of our Plan.

Vibrant Neighborhoods

Everybody is in a NeighborhoodA geographic sub0area within the city that contains but is not limited to residential land uses. The extent of a neighborhood is variable and may be defined by tradition, organizational boundaries, the period of building and development, or subdivision patterns. Neighborhood boundaries may include such features as major streets or other physical elements.

Neighborhoods are the fundamental building blocks of a great city. Every person in the city deserves to live in a great neighborhood. All neighborhoods are not the same, and we do not want them to be. We foster our shared neighborhood values and strive to improve the character of our neighborhoods. This Plan purposefully moves us in the direction of enhanced neighborhood identity, planning, support, and livability. Individual neighborhood plans will focus attention toward the ideas and goals of each neighborhood and the overall community plan. 

Housing for All

Housing should reflect our community, not only where people live now, but where they want to live in the next phases of their life. This Plan recognizes the market realities that impact our housing and what we choose to regulate, incentivize, or subsidize. A fundamental expectation is to move our community in the direction of more housing choices. We choose to accomplish this less by mandated exactions and requirements and more by proactive accommodation, incentives, and support for a full spectrum of attainable housingAttainable housing means decent, attractive, safe, and sanitary accommodation that is affordable for the full spectrum of the city's residents. While a cost of no more than 30% of gross household income is a good rule of thumb for affordability, there will be some circumstances where higher or lower thresholds may be more applicable. opportunities, located in different areas of the city.

Reclaim Neighborhood Space

As our city matures, a decline of any neighborhood will not serve us well. Neighborhood disinvestment affects our entire city. If we are not paying attention and being proactive as a city, we should expect areas to change in undesirable ways. A key tenet of this Plan is that viable opportunities for neighborhood reinvestment need to be identified, prioritized, and pursued in all neighborhoods, but particularly those that are most vulnerable.

Unique Places

Be a City of Places

We are a large and expansive city with a predominant suburban development pattern. This is the foundation for many of the neighborhoods we know and love. Missing in some areas are the unique and special places for these communities to identify with and gather in. Places are what make a city special and how we share it as community. The best and most special places have a combination of common desired elements and unique attributes. This Plan is about community building through placemaking everywhere in the city. The plan looks to incorporate centers in neighborhoods throughout the city. 

Embrace Creative InfillDevelopment of vacant land within previously built areas. These areas are already served by public infrastructures, such as transportation and utilities. Parks and open space are also considered infill, since they are permanent uses for vacant parcels., Adaptation, and Land Use Change

We value the preservation of our built environment, especially our historic buildings and areas. But, for our city to be even more competitive, we also need areas to infill and adapt in response to a myriad of trends including demographics, technology, and the market. As a community we should embrace the prospect of managed, thoughtful, and forward-thinking changes in land use by reinvesting in key areas.

Grow the City’s Heart

All great cities have vibrant downtowns. Our city center will continue to grow and adapt as the iconic, mixed use, economic, and cultural heart of the city and region. Downtown is and should remain a uniquely special area and priority for our community.

Focus on Corridors and Centers

Downtown is essential, but it is not nearly enough. For Colorado Springs to continue to flourish and grow, we need other places to function as centers for community life. Our Plan addresses how to create and enhance these new and existing corridors and centers. Density, land use diversity, and public spaces need to be key components of these areas if they are to be sustainable, walkable, active, and transit supportive.

Create Sustainable and Resilient Places

We do not seek to be a more resilient city to obtain national acclaim. We desire an environmentally sustainable and resilient future for our city because it makes sense. We plan on leading by example in supporting, embracing and celebrating land uses, buildings, systems, and technologies that promote water conservation and efficient energy use. We plan on building and taking advantage of the latest cost-effective technologies that support our economic and environmental competitiveness.

Thriving Economy

Brand as the Best

We are the one and only “Olympic City USA” and we intend to celebrate and market our brand through this Plan and in many other ways. We embrace and foster the Olympic spirit as a community and strive for its ideals. Our location, at the base of Pikes Peak, also reminds us of our lofty vision to be a city that matches its scenery. 

Expand our Base

The military is the largest direct and indirect contributor to our economy. They have invested in our city and we need to invest in them. We need to grow and develop in a way that complements this major military role in our community. At the same time, we need to create an environment that promotes jobs and investment in other targeted, higher-paying employment sectors. In doing this, we can continue to grow our economy and make it more diverse and resilient.

Think and Act Regionally

Our city does not function in isolation, nor do we want to. Continued coordination and collaboration with other local governments and regional partners will enhance our economic development and stability, expand available services, and improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

Embrace Sustainability

Our City and its enterprises have large and costly responsibilities to provide the services and facilities our citizens ask for or require. This begins with core services such as public safety and water availability, but extends to other infrastructure and programs. The Colorado Springs Utilities Strategic Plan supports the long-term projected vibrant growth in PlanCOS. Forward thinking, thoughtful planning, and conscious development decisions are essential to our long-term management of City costs. Success in this endeavor will allow us to provide more efficient services.

Become a Smart Cities Leader 

We expect to be at the forefront and a national leader of the Smart Cities movement by implementing a Smart CitySmart Cities utilize technology and the Internet of Things to address challenges facing our community and improve the quality of life for our citizens, particularly in the areas of connectivity, energy, and resilience. Colorado Springs identified four organizational pillars to implement a vision for Smart Cities: Energy and utilities, transportation and mobility, City services, and buildings and sustainability. Vision. As SmartCOS, we plan on partnering with experts in this field by piloting and deploying transformative systems and technologies that maximize the effectiveness of our services and facilities and enhance communication among our citizens. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) also has identified a Smart Utilities plan to further enhance the City’s Smart City concept.

Strong Connections

Connect MultimodalIncluding more than one mode of transportation. For example, a facility that accommodates lanes for motorized vehicles, bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stops. Transportation

As the built areas of our city increase, a focus on connecting all modes of transportation will become important to create a livable and accessible city. As we plan for and improve the transportation system, we will do so in response to changes in demographics, lifestyles, and emerging technologies. Mobility and connectivity is essential at the local scale, and in creating places that are accessible and convenient by foot, bike, and transit throughout our community.

Take Transit to the Next Level

We may be a few years out from having a full choice-based transit system that connects both within our city and to other cities along the Front Range. However, we intend to achieve this vision in targeted and strategic sites. We recognize that the way to get there is to continue to actively plan for these systems and to encourage best-practices with transit-supportive uses, densities, and design. 

Remain Focused on Stormwater

Stormwater and flood control systems are vital to a well-functioning city. As such, we need to approach stormwater management as a connected and integrated element of the physical design of our city. This is especially important in new development and redeveloping areas. 

Support Smart and Connected Utilities

We need modern and efficient utilities to prosper. We are planning for a future that will use smart systems and technology to revolutionize the way we sustainably use our water and energy.

Renowned Culture

Honor Our History 

Our heritage is a key foundation of the city’s strong cultural identity. We plan on preserving the best of our existing historic and cultural resources. Through collaboration with local organizations and new developments, we can integrate design features that celebrate aspects of our historic legacy. 

Grow and Celebrate Our Culture

Our city has valued arts and culture since it was settled in the mid-19th century. As such, supporting the places, institutions, and organizations that provide cultural and educational opportunities and experiences is intrinsic to keeping our city’s creative environment. We play an important role in nurturing the best of education and culture for all.

Create Cross-Cultural Connections

Great arts and culture cannot be static in its definition or how it is made available. As our city grows, matures, and diversifies, arts, education, and culture will need to be integrated and relevant to our lives throughout the city. Downtown is the center for arts and culture of the city and region. However, it is essential that great arts, culture, and education be available and celebrated throughout our city, particularly in our public places, parks, community centers, streets, and libraries.

Celebrate Our Partnerships

We do not intend for the City to be either the primary funder or the arbiter of arts, education, and culture. Instead, we expect strong partnerships among other public, non-profit and private providers and practitioners. The City’s role should be to encourage and support these partnerships and community-oriented philanthropy, and provide opportunities and places for them.

Strengthen Our Educational Resources 

There are already strong networks and resources for educational and lifelong learning opportunities in the city, and this Plan intends to recognize and support them as essential community functions. This can come in the form of complementary uses at these hubs or enhancing the connection to residents. This will elevate education as a community priority. 

Majestic Landscapes

Provide Parks for the People

Our connection with the outdoors is shared by all of us, regardless of who we are or where we live in the city. As it is essential to our community life, we need to ensure access to a variety of well-maintained parks, open spaces, trails, and outdoor venues. We expect our City to be the primary, but certainly not the only, provider of these important spaces, places, and facilities.

Engaging with Our Landscapes

Together, our existing and future parks, open space, trails, and outdoor spaces represent the “green infrastructure” system of our city. We need to provide easy access, manage, and increase this system with a focus on connecting and engaging our citizens to what is in their backyard.

Celebrate Our Scenery and Environment 

As a community we value the quality of our wonderful climate and natural environment, and we recognize the importance of clean air, land, and water. This motivates us to spend more time outside. As a city we do not regulate private property view protection. However, we do expect to build and design our streets, parks and public places to respect and share our beautiful vistas. Maintaining the integrity of our natural environment means we have a goal of determining and implementing the most effective ways to be stewards of our environment, as our city grows. 

Invest in Resilient and Adaptable Landscapes

It is not enough to simply identify, set aside, and put protections on our cherished natural landscapes. We need to recognize their vulnerability from natural hazards, degradation, and overuse. This requires continuing to proactively invest, adapt, and establish programs for sustainability and resiliency. Careful management and proactive maintenance investment and actions are essential to sustaining our natural systems. 

Complete Our Creeks

Our creeks and stream corridors should be the lifeblood and arteries of our green infrastructure. We plan to fully incorporate our creeks as multipurpose and accessible corridors. They should actively be considered as places for wildlife, recreation, transportation, utilities, and for the conveyance of stormwater.