Home ONLINE MALL FOR SHOPPING As soon as known as a 'boondoggle,' north Colorado Springs retail heart...

As soon as known as a ‘boondoggle,’ north Colorado Springs retail heart continues fast progress | Enterprise

In the present day, the 200-acre Polaris Pointe retail heart in northern Colorado Springs is being known as one of many metropolis’s most vibrant purchasing facilities.

However when it was launched greater than a decade in the past, Polaris Pointe had extra critics and skeptics than shops and eating places.

For starters, its timing was suspect, some mentioned. Initially often called Copper Ridge at Northgate, the undertaking was proposed in 2010 as one of many Springs’ largest retail facilities, although industrial exercise at the moment had slowed amid the Nice Recession’s aftermath.

Polaris Pointe additionally was controversial due to a Colorado Springs Metropolis Council resolution to designate the grassy, undeveloped undertaking web site, southeast of Interstate 25 and North Gate Boulevard, as an city renewal district. 

Council members argued the designation would enable purchasing heart tax revenues to be earmarked for building of the much-needed, north-side Powers Boulevard extension, a state freeway undertaking for which the Colorado Division of Transportation mentioned it had no cash.

However opponents accused town of constructing an end-run across the state’s city renewal legislation, which they mentioned was designed to breathe new life into decaying city areas and never subsidize suburban greenfield websites resembling Polaris Pointe.

“That is one other boondoggle by elected officers who possibly did not actually perceive the total ramification of the vote,” then-Metropolis Councilman Tim Leigh mentioned in 2012. A industrial actual property dealer, Leigh had joined the council a yr after his colleagues declared Polaris Pointe an city renewal web site.

“I might doubt that it will occur as a result of I do not know anyone who has the cash to place into the deal,” Leigh added on the time.

Now, nonetheless, the critics are largely quiet and the controversy has largely ebbed.

Polaris Pointe — with greater than 60 shops, eating places and leisure venues on a roughly 100-acre northern portion of the event, together with a Bass Professional Outlets and a Topgolf leisure heart introduced final week — has grow to be one in all a number of profitable purchasing facilities that dominate town’s north-side retail panorama.


Topgolf leisure venue to tee off in Colorado Springs

Property and gross sales tax revenues generated by Polaris Pointe during the last a number of years are funding a $67 million first section of the Powers extension; the four-lane highway will run from Voyager Parkway to Interstate 25 and consists of six bridges and a brand new interchange. It is focused for a June opening; a timetable for a second section of the extension, from Voyager to Colorado 83, is unsure. 

“At the moment, every thing I mentioned was in all probability an accurate assertion,” Leigh, now a former councilman, mentioned not too long ago about Polaris Pointe. “However the march of time simply continues, proper? So now persons are fairly flush. And clearly that is (Polaris Pointe) an enormous success. I in all probability made an accurate assertion on the time, however instances change.”

Polaris Pointe developer Gary Erickson, who mentioned he by no means misplaced confidence within the undertaking, would not need to rehash the previous. As a substitute, he mentioned he is centered on bringing extra customers to Polaris Pointe, finishing the preliminary leg of the Powers extension and getting began on a second section of growth on the roughly 100-acre south aspect of the brand new extension.

“It was a giant gamble for everyone,” Erickson mentioned. “I am not the largest developer on the town. Earlier than they (metropolis officers) did this, they vetted me. They employed an organization to undergo my historical past they usually needed to certify that I used to be financially able to pulling off what I used to be proposing and earlier than the Metropolis Council would approve it.”

In 2005, Erickson, a Colorado Springs-area residential and industrial developer, purchased about 320 acres of the north-side Northgate growth. On the time, he mentioned he was betting on a future Powers Boulevard extension to unlock the property’s potential.


Breakfast-themed Buttermilk restaurant opens doorways on Colorado Springs’ far north aspect

Powers, a north-south freeway on the Springs’ east aspect, was envisioned for many years by native and state transportation officers as a substitute for I-25 that will run the size of town and connect with the interstate on its north and south ends.

However with out sufficient funding, state transportation officers had no quick plans to increase Powers to I-25 from the place it now ends at Colorado 83 .

5 years after he purchased the Northgate property, Erickson, along side metropolis authorities staffers, proposed Polaris Pointe and sought to have it declared an city renewal web site. 

Usually, an city renewal designation permits incremental will increase in property and gross sales tax revenues generated by new growth to be put aside to fund utility, highway, drainage and different onsite public enhancements. These government-funded upgrades are supposed to encourage builders to put money into blighted areas.    

Within the case of Polaris Pointe, Erickson and metropolis staffers proposed funneling tax revenues from the brand new purchasing heart towards the development of the Powers extension.

For the neighborhood, extending Powers would accommodate growing quantities of north-side site visitors and supply a brand new hyperlink to I-25. For Erickson, Powers would run by way of the center of Polaris Pointe and supply quick access for buyers, which might make the undertaking extra enticing to retailers who had been contemplating whether or not to find on the purchasing heart.


Flats coming to Polaris Pointe on Colorado Springs’ north aspect

However the proposal to declare an undeveloped space as blighted was so controversial that the Colorado Springs City Renewal Authority rejected the thought and urged the Metropolis Council to do the identical.

Nonetheless, the council voted unanimously in Could 2010 to designate Polaris Pointe as an city renewal web site. Making a funding device to pay for the Powers extension outweighed issues concerning the city renewal designation and protests that Polaris Pointe would create government-assisted competitors for different purchasing facilities, council members mentioned on the time.

“It is the highway,” then-Councilman Darryl Glenn mentioned in explaining the council’s resolution.

Little exercise was seen at Polaris Pointe within the first two years after the Metropolis Council’s motion; that is when Leigh labeled it a “boondoggle.”

Lower than every week after that remark in February 2012, Erickson and Bass Professional Outlets introduced that the outside retail chain would construct a 117,000-square-foot retailer to anchor the purchasing heart. Bass Professional, which attracts outside lovers on a regional foundation, opened in November 2013.

Since then, Polaris Pointe — whose city renewal district boundaries prolong east of Voyager — has added dozens of native, regional and nationwide shops, eating places and leisure venues.

Amongst them: the Bourbon Brothers Smokehouse & Tavern, Kneaders Bakery & Cafe, Ace {Hardware}, Sprouts Farmers Market, the Brass Faucet Craft Beer Bar, Overdrive Raceway, the Magnum Taking pictures Heart, the Boot Barn Corridor at Bourbon Brothers live performance venue, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s.

In 2020, they had been joined by a franchised location of nationwide well being meals chain Vitality Bowls; Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen, which relocated from town’s northwest aspect; and Buttermilk, A Breakfast Eatery, which is operated by the proprietor of Bourbon Brothers Smokehouse & Tavern.

This summer time, Topgolf, the Dallas-based international leisure chain whose venues function driving ranges, video games, meals and drinks, expects to open at Polaris Pointe; it is taking on the Crush Golf driving vary and leisure heart that Erickson was constructing.

Different newcomers in 2021 embody the AirCity 360 Journey Park, an indoor household leisure heart; native eateries Coronary heart of Jerusalem Cafe and Vaqueros Mexican Restaurant; and FiiZ Drinks, a Utah-based, nonalcoholic beverage retailer.

“It is probably the most vibrant retail areas within the metropolis,” mentioned Bob Cope, financial growth officer for Colorado Springs metropolis authorities and who labored with Erickson to acquire Polaris Pointe’s city renewal standing.

Residential tasks additionally are actually a part of Polaris Pointe. The 301-unit Polaris Junction condo complicated, being developed by Mississippi-based Blackburn Communities, expects to open in 2021, whereas Erickson plans to begin building this yr on a 51-unit, luxurious loft undertaking for residents 55 and older. A 245-unit condo undertaking is also within the early planning levels, he mentioned.

Not every thing has gone based on plan at Polaris Pointe.

A resort and water park that Erickson introduced in early 2012 was dropped 5 years later after a third-party developer walked away from the undertaking. Like different retail facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a handful of closings at Polaris Pointe, together with regional bar and restaurant CB & Potts.

And whereas the Metropolis Council authorized the city renewal designation in 2010 as a funding mechanism for the Powers extension, El Paso County Commissioners rejected a request by Erickson to earmark a portion of county gross sales tax revenues for the undertaking.

Two years in the past, Erickson and metropolis staffers sought extra metropolis gross sales tax {dollars} for the Powers extension; the council agreed in March 2019 to extend from 1% to 1.75% the portion of the Springs gross sales tax charge that generates income for the Powers work.

After the council OK’d the rise, building started in November 2019 on the extension from Voyager to I-25. A metro district arrange by Erickson issued bonds to fund the work; the bonds are being repaid by the elevated property and gross sales tax income generated at Polaris Pointe.

Whereas Polaris Pointe revenues are funding the extension, CDOT spent $1 million on early grading on the Powers route, between I-25 and Voyager, mentioned Tim Mitros, a former metropolis official and the metro district’s supervisor. CDOT additionally constructed a $9.5 million water high quality undertaking along side the brand new interchange.

Since he began Polaris Pointe, Erickson additionally has shifted gears on the undertaking’s idea. 

It is nonetheless dwelling to conventional retailers and eating places. However as a result of extra customers make their purchases on-line, Erickson mentioned he is sought so as to add people-generating venues to Polaris Pointe — resembling Topgolf, AirCity 360, Overdrive Raceway and the Boot Barn Corridor live performance venue. An indoor skydiving facility, with a restaurant, is the newest leisure facility proposed at Polaris Pointe.

That technique may assist enhance spending and gross sales tax revenues at Polaris Pointe, mentioned Jariah Walker, government director of the Colorado Springs City Renewal Authority.

“The extra that you just get customers going to an space for an expertise, whether or not that is meals or live shows or racing automobiles or no matter it might be, then they have a tendency to stroll round and store,” Walker mentioned. “They have an inclination to hold across the space and spend extra {dollars}.”

The completion of the Powers extension in June will place Polaris Pointe’s south aspect for growth, although Erickson mentioned he is additionally revamped his imaginative and prescient for that portion of the property.

In 2010, he proposed a high-end, enclosed mall south of the longer term Powers extension. However with Nordstrom, Macy’s and different upscale brick-and-mortar retailers closing shops, that idea will not work, he mentioned.

As a substitute, he now expects to develop the south aspect of Polaris Pointe much like the College Village Colorado retail heart on North Nevada Avenue, additionally an city renewal undertaking.

A Lowe’s House Enchancment Warehouse, Costco wholesale membership and a Kohl’s division retailer anchor College Village, which  has dozens of smaller retailers, eating places and service-oriented companies. Erickson expects to carry comparable forms of large packing containers to the south aspect of Powers, together with shops, eateries and maybe a health heart, grocery and movie show.

The addition of outlets on the south aspect of Powers would generate extra property and gross sales taxes to repay bonds for the primary section of the extension.

These future revenues additionally may assist fund the second section of Powers, between Colorado 83 and Voyager. Up to now, Erickson mentioned, Polaris Pointe revenues are the one funding supply for that subsequent portion of Powers, which has an estimated price ticket of $71 million.

Regardless that Polaris Pointe has made vital strides, it nonetheless would not sit effectively with some folks.

John Olson, co-owner of Civic Design Partnership, a Colorado Springs city design and panorama structure agency, was a member of the City Renewal Authority that opposed the Polaris Pointe blight designation in 2010. After a couple of years off the board, he is since rejoined the authority.

Olson mentioned he is all the time wished Polaris Pointe to succeed, however nonetheless believes the city renewal designation for a greenfield web site was philosophically improper. It opened the door for the Metropolis Council’s resolution two years in the past to declare a portion of pristine Air Drive Academy property as blighted to accommodate a brand new customer’s heart, he mentioned. He additionally opposed that call.

“I personally do not consider that is the route we must be utilizing city renewal for,” Olson mentioned. “It will be good to have another mechanism to do this and never name it city renewal.” 

Tax {dollars} spent to construct the Powers extension even have benefited Polaris Pointe’s growth on the doable expense of rival purchasing facilities, Olson mentioned. Erickson has countered that town has authorized incentives for retailers resembling Scheels All Sports activities, which opens in March at InterQuest Market a couple of miles south of Polaris Pointe.

Former Councilman Scott Hente, who additionally sat on the City Renewal Authority a decade in the past, supported the city renewal designation for Polaris Pointe. Regardless of the controversy on the time, the Metropolis Council made use of the instruments accessible beneath the state’s city renewal legislation, he mentioned.

The result’s a thriving purchasing heart and the soon-to-open first leg of the Powers extension, Hente mentioned.

“I look again on my time on council and I’ll inform you, with excellent 20-20 hindsight, there have been some selections that I might perform a little bit in another way,” Hente mentioned. “Not this one. I assumed on the time we had been making the proper resolution. I nonetheless assume it was.”

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