Plaza, not pumps – alternate plan for Goodwill site
An alternate plan has surfaced for the roughly two-acre Goodwill property in the 2300 block of West Colorado Avenue that Kum & Go is eying for a convenience store/gas station.
A group of investors fronted by Colorado Springs architect Joe Rexroad has prepared concept renderings and a description for a project that would remodel existing buildings (demolish one of the smaller ones) and include a public market, restaurant, plaza, commercial spaces, upstairs living units and an overall design that “promotes increased pedestrian activity.”
The description's concluding sentence states: “The proposed changes… help extend the Old Colorado City district an additional block east while repairing the urban fabric from industrial blight to a more appropriate and consistent architectural character.”
Goodwill spokesperson Bradd Hafer said the nonprofit would like to hear from Rexroad's group; however, because Kum & Go has a contract on the parcel, the alternate plan would have to be a “backup offer” that could only be taken up “in the event that Kum & Go walked away from the table.”
The location is the south side of the 2300 block, where Kum & Go has announced plans to demolish all the old buildings, construct a 5,000-square-foot convenience store with 10 gas pumps in front and operate the business around the clock.
Rexroad's group might have submitted ahead of Kum & Go had it not been that when they visited the property late last year Goodwill was still marketing both sides of the 2300 block (3½ acres in all) as one property.
“We looked around, but we didn't want the whole thing,” Rexroad said. “But we were told it was all or nothing, so we sort of shelved it.”
Some weeks later, Kum & Go arrived with what Goodwill broker Jim Spittler called an “unsolicited offer” for the south side alone. Goodwill, needing funds for a new retail/processing center at Hancock and South Academy, decided to give up on its both-sides-of-the-street plan and agreed to a contract. “It was a respectable offer,” Spittler said. “We decided to take it, and then just worry about the north side.”
Shortly thereafter, Junior Achievement, which had shown interest previously, came back, found the north side by itself was now available (except the retail store), and made an offer which has since been accepted.
“There may have been a miscommunication,” Spittler said, referring to Rexroad's group. He did remember that on the visit they had said “they liked the south side better.” However, afterward, “all their broker told us was that there was no interest.”
Spittler agreed with what Rexroad said his group had been told. “Our marketing brochure was for the whole thing, for the redevelopment of the entire property,” Spittler said. He elaborated that “one of our goals was to take everything down, to put in underground parking and live-over work space, but we couldn't get any developers interested in that.”
Goodwill has not announced the terms of either contract, but Hafer has previously said it is seeking $2.3 million in all for both sides because that's the amount needed to cover the Academy/Hancock cost. A recent Colorado Springs Business Journal quoted a Junior Achievement official saying that its deal was for $600,000. That would put Kum & Go's offer for the south side at about $1.7 million.
Although declining to reveal any names, Rexroad said the investors in his group “are very significant business people in Colorado Springs” who have identified tenants for the project and whose analyses show that it could be profitable. The group is also “looking at how to help the whole community, which I think puts our proposal head and shoulders above any other.”
Rexroad himself formerly worked for long-time Springs architect Clifford Nakata, and more recently he has been involved in planning military buildings, he said.
For close to 50 years, Goodwill's headquarters had been on both sides of the 2300 block - plus it had offices in other locations around town - before the nonprofit worked out a deal in 2011, with the aid of the El Pomar Foundation, to consolidate operations in a newer, larger facility off Garden of the Gods Road.
In October of that year, Goodwill hosted a public meeting on the Westside, taking ideas on what people would like to see in the 2300 block after the entity departed. The basic public consensus was for some kind of low-key usage that would be in keeping with Old Colorado City and the surrounding neighborhood.
After the Kum & Go offer was made public in June, two meetings were held, revealing a few in favor but many opposed or doubtful. A petition against the plan has more than 1,100 signatures.
At a workshop in late July with invited Westside groups, Kum & Go representatives said they would consider ideas for design changes that would reduce their facility's visual impact, but no revised plans have come forward.
The company has not yet submitted a formal application to the city. If it does, a zone change would be necessary, requiring City Council approval. Also, under city codes, city planner Ryan Tefertiller has said that Kum & Go would have to prove its proposal is “harmonious” with the surrounding area, which includes the Old Colorado City Historic District.
On the plus side for Kum & Go, Rexroad speculated that city fathers are impressed that the company has committed millions of dollars to building in Colorado Springs, including 10 stores in just two years.
“I think we have a 50-50 shot,” the architect said, “If Old Colorado City stands tall and says we don't want this and we won't patronize it, we've got a chance. But if somehow the momentum dies off, then I think the city will give in to Kum & Go, and that would be sad. Old Colorado City deserves better.”
He also expressed the concern that the Kum & Go process could drag on for up to a year, by which time, even if the plan were turned down, investors supporting the alternate plan might have sought opportunities elsewhere.
Westside Pioneer article