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Two local projects hope to complement C4C 

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City for Champions is a development extravaganza that backers say will transform Colorado Springs' industrial lower downtown area into a vibrant tourism mecca.

But where does that leave two smaller players who've been eying the same geographic spot?

As of now, people behind the Pikes Peak Children's Museum and the Colorado Springs Public Market Project haven't given up on finding a home southwest of Cascade and Colorado avenues — where the city plans to erect a $92.7 million sports and events center and a $59.4 million Olympic museum.

Both projects are geared to appeal more to existing residents than tourists, but that doesn't mean they couldn't supplement the larger projects and play a role in keeping tourists here longer, supporters say.

In fact, both were mentioned in the city's original application for state sales tax rebates, granted last week. The museum in particular was termed a "Phase 2" (post-C4C) projected improvement to the area.

"Plans for the downtown area should include children," says Children's Museum board president Jo Walker, "and we believe they belong at the table in thinking through the long-term plans for development of that area."

While the board hoped to build the museum adjacent to America the Beautiful Park ("If you dream it ..." News, March 8, 2012), Walker says "We have never put all our eggs in one basket. We're open to other locations. But we still believe a Children's Museum would be a great community asset in a downtown location, so that hasn't changed."

That's why Walker says the PPCM board would "love to have further discussions" with C4C leaders, "to see if a children's museum there would be part of that plan."

Meantime, the board is focused on a fundraising feasibility study and rolling out some sample children's museum experiences next year in various locations yet to be chosen. According to the museum's website, it hopes to open by Dec. 31, 2015, but Walker won't commit to a timeline or a dollar goal for fundraising.

The Public Market — envisioned as a year-round hub of food, music and entertainment and a gathering spot for seasonal farmers' markets — at one time hoped for a chance at the Crissy Fowler building on Vermijo Avenue. But that sits adjacent to the area targeted by City for Champions, so board president Dave Anderson now dismisses that option.

Anderson says the goal of the market is to support residential growth in the city's core and to attract young entrepreneurs. "What we see in the project we have is something that is complementary," he says. "We see no conflicts."

In fact, he says the Public Market recently joined the Downtown Partnership and gave a presentation to the Downtown Development Authority, both of which played a role in formulating and promoting City for Champions.

"While we're not directly interfacing with that [City for Champions] group, there's a huge overlap" with the two downtown organizations, Anderson says.

Anderson says he hopes the Public Market (which is part of the Independent's Give! campaign) can establish a site for farmers markets "by the time produce is available in the field in this coming year."

Bob Cope, city economic vitality official, says the two projects' chances of building downtown are "greatly enhanced" by City for Champions, but adds the master planning process will ultimately determine land use.

zubeck@csindy.com

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