RegionName: Out-of-Town OtherArea: DC
I'll cut to the chase. No, this development will not bring prosperity. Horizontal development never does b/c the math doesn't work. It relies on subsidies to survive over multiple life-cycles.
Here's what will happen:
Developers will pay to install all the first generation infrastructure.
The city will collect taxes for 25 years.
Those taxes won't come close to paying for the maintenance and replacement of all the infrastructure that was built in the first generation.
The city will borrow or (gasp) raise taxes to pay for the ongoing maintenance and/or replacement of all that infrastructure.
Colorado Springs already has a model of what works. It's downtown/the Westside/Manitou. It's dense, walkable, based around a grid, and is mixed use. It's adaptable and resilient. It's that way b/c it's based on the way we built places for thousands of years. Incrementally up and incrementally out. It builds individual and community wealth b/c it costs less to build initially and less to maintain over multiple life-cycles.
Enjoy the Grand Canyon Bob! I lived there for a year before moving to Colorado Springs, and that route was my preferred as well. There's going to be a point on the S. Kaibab where you finally see the Colorado River. I highly recommend taking a break there and just listening to the roar. Also, if they still serve it (I left in '03,) the cornbread at Bright Angel is incredible! Perfect after a hike down.
The hike up always felt like an uneven stair-master to me. Take a step, stair. Take 3 steps, stair. Take two steps, stair. It's tough to find a rhythm, so take your time and just enjoy it. The El Tovar porch is a great place to enjoy an adult beverage after you're done.
Lastly, if you're spending some time up on the rim, Shoshone Point is a good place for a sunrise or sunset. It's off the beaten path a bit so you may have it all to yourself and it's only a short hike from the parking area on fairly flat terrain.
I no longer live in Colorado Springs, but used to live on N. Nevada and I still care about the city deeply.
If I'm reading the LTTE from Mr. McKeown correctly, the city is considering ripping out the median and installing 2 more lanes for traffic, one of which might at some point be for light rail?
Speaking as someone who works in the urbanism field, this is a CRAZY idea. Bonkers. I'm not talking about adding light rail, I think that would provide a high ROI if it connected UCCS to downtown. If done right, it would significantly increase property values along the route and be more attractive to those who don't want to own an automobile or use it for every trip. Provided land use intensified around the rail, especially on the far north end of Nevada, the city would see a solid bump in tax revenue. I differ w/ Mr. McKeown on turing lower floors into offices, or adding apartments or "granny flats" in the rear of now single family homes. Apartments, businesses to serve new people, and more density are not bad things. Done the right way, this is the traditional, organic way a city grows. Land around big community investments should be able to support those investments in the form of higher tax receipts. It's a win-win for property owners and the community alike.
A much better solution to adding rail along Nevada would be repurposing one lane on each side for the rail. N. Nevada has 4 lanes of auto only traffic. It does not need 4. There's no way traffic volume is high enough for that (perhaps there are some delays at "rush hours" but does it make sense to design an entire system around a few peak hours?) Even if it was, traffic is not a zero-sum game. It expands or contracts more like a gas than a liquid or solid (see: Induced Demand.) If you build more lanes for automobiles, you get more automobiles. If you repurpose lanes, the traffic disperses into the grid or goes away, or people choose times other than the peak to travel. Demolishing that median for rail would be providing the "carrot" of quality mass transit w/o the "stick" of discouraging car use. Keeping Nevada in it's current configuration & repurposing a lane for rail would also be substantially cheaper than demolishing the median and adding rail b/c the city would have one less lane for automobiles to maintain. Asphalt IS EXPENSIVE!
That median is a HUGE amenity to the surrounding neighborhoods. It softens the streetscape. slows automobiles (and quiets traffic noise), takes in pollution, provides shade for people and habitat for animals, and is visually pleasant.
Ripping out that median is anti-city. It's prioritizing the swift movement of automobiles over everything else. One lane of auto traffic each way is plenty. Taking the median out will have cascading effects. The city will not see a return on the investment of rail. It will devalue surrounding land values leading to lower tax receipts. It will lose valuable green space. It'll be on the hook for not only the maintenance costs of 4 lanes of auto traffic, but also the costs to run a now less valuable rail line. It will make Nevada a louder, less pleasant, uglier place to be.
Cities around the world are at a crossroad. They can continue on an auto-centric approach to planning (a world-wide EXPERIMENT of unprecedented scale), one that goes against millennia of accumulated knowledge on how to build cities, one that devalues the land around it at the same time is costs us dearly to build and maintain, or we can return to the values that make cities work for people first, using infrastructure that's already in place instead of building more that we can afford to maintain.
The cities that return to a people first approach will win the 21st century. The core of Colorado Springs is well-positioned to do so, with it's connected grid, walkable/bikeable streets, pleasant architecture, and parks/amenities. Ripping out the median on Nevada would be moving in the wrong direction and would lead to stagnation or worse for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Another example of horizontal growth not being able to pay for itself long-term. Too much area to patrol, tax base can't cover the costs.
When you have more parking than actual business, well...duh.
You make everyone drive and they have $5,000-9,000 less to spend every year. This location, so close to a major university, was ripe for a less auto-oriented development style. Now you're stuck w/ big boxes for the next 25 years..at least. Can those buildings be turned into something else after? Not likely. In their shiny and new best they can't meet revenues after all that sunk infrastructure cost! DO THE MATH! Compare downtown's traditional development style to the crap we've produced for the last 70 years.
Doesn't sound like Mr. Skorman has read anything from parking researcher Donald Shoup (i.e.. The High Cost of Free Parking.)
While this seems like a nice gesture, it actually probably hurts him and surrounding businesses b/c parking is a scarce commodity that is universally underpriced. Charging the right amount for parking increases turnover (MORE CUSTOMERS! Yea!) and helps to prevent cruising for a space, which leads to more congestion (BOO!) Performance parking programs seek to charge market rates so that 1 or two spots per block are always available. On blocks where there is high demand, the price to park is higher. Drivers are able to make a decision based on market forces to either pay more for a spot on a high demand block or drive around the corner or down the street (and walk a bit further) for a lower priced space. This also leads to more shoppers checking out shops that they might not necessarily have planned on visiting to begin with.
Lastly, Mr. Skorman would probably do well to replace at least one space in front of his business for a parked motor vehicle with bicycle racks. This way, a spot that only served 1-2 customers (in a car/truck) is available to be used by 10 times the number of cyclists (MORE CUSTOMERS! Yea!) In fact, in most studies, cyclists are shown to buy fewer items, but buy much more frequently than motor vehicle drivers, leading to a net increase in sales.
Cars don't buy things, people do.
30 years, or approximately one lifecycle of all that infrastructure to service single occupancy vehicles, big box stores, and single family housing built on the fringes that you now have to maintain or replace. It's expensive that...and it was never going to pay for itself b/c there was just too much of it. So you skimped on maintenance, cut a bit of public transportation, and were hamstrung along the way by TABOR. Now you're here. Either keep "growing" horizontally and dig yourself a bigger hole, or return to the way we used to build place, and coincidentally, wealth, through a form that put people first (on foot or bike) instead of automobiles. Mixed use, walkable, dense...like downtown, the west side and Manitou.
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