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USOC, city move closer to downtown deal 

City Council schedules special meeting Monday; approval expected

The United States Olympic Committee headquarters is one step closer to remaining here for at least another 25 years.

On Friday afternoon, March 28, Colorado Springs City Council released publicly an agreement (View it here) negotiated with the USOC and a local developer, which would move the USOC offices downtown along with many member sports, opening the way for major renovations to the Olympic Training Center.

According to the release, the USOC headquarters will relocate to Stratton Pointe at 27 S. Tejon St., at the corner of Colorado Avenue. The city will come up with $27 million, the El Pomar Foundation about $2 million, and the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade $500,000. Developer LandCo Equity Partners will find private financing for the remaining $23.5 million needed to complete the project. The agreement was negotiated with Assistant City Manager Mike Anderson as the local liaison dealing with the USOC and City Council.

Anderson is on vacation this week, and was not available for comment.

Councilwoman Jan Martin said Friday that she hadnt seen the final details of the agreement, so she couldnt say how she felt about it, but she loves the idea of keeping the USOC here.

Ive been a supporter of having the USOC [stay] here from the beginning, so if thats that outcome, I think its great for the community, she said.

City Council also has scheduled a special meeting for Monday to vote on the package, with sources indicating it will pass by a clear majority of the nine-member group. The USOC would then move quickly to make an official announcement, at which USOC president Peter Ueberroth might be present.

If the official word comes Monday, it will end more than six months of negotiation between city government, USOC representatives and developers. It also will provide relief to those worried that a bigger city like Chicago or Denver would use incentives to lure away one of the Springs biggest quality-of-life attractions.

According to the deal, the USOC headquarters will move downtown and become a prominent Tejon Street attraction. The city will also be able to use the Olympic rings on letterheads and welcome signs along Interstate 25. Those moves are expected to establish Colorado Springs more visibly as the nations Olympic city and hopefully haul in more tourists.

Several months ago, the USOC chose LandCo Equity Partners development plan over those drafted by rivals. Then the city made it worth their while, working a deal for the USOC and LandCo.

The Stratton Pointe building, owned by LandCo, will soon grow to six stories (plus a basement) and feature a skybridge connecting to the city parking garage. The overhaul of the property, last a furniture store, is expected to be complete by August 2009.

The top five floors, all new, will have 90,000 square feet of office space for the USOC. The city is paying for that addition with $20.8 million in certificates of participation, a type of tax-exempt loan in which various investors pay the initial amount and the city slowly pays off the debt and interest.

The citys Parking Enterprise will pay for the pedestrian bridge and give the USOC 240 parking spaces in its parking garage on Nevada and Colorado avenues. The ground floor and basement, remaining under LandCo ownership, will feature Olympic-themed retail or entertainment.

Until Stratton Pointe is complete, USOC offices will have a temporary home at another LandCo-owned office building at 19 N. Tejon St. El Pomar is providing $500,000 toward renovations, with 50,000 square feet of office space to be ready by Aug. 15. LandCo will offer the space to the USOC rent-free.

The old Gas Operations Building, at 30 S. Cimino Drive, will be the new home for many individual Olympic sports national offices. The city will spend $5.6 million to buy and improve the building. El Pomar will chip in $1.5 million on the project, which is expected to be finished Dec. 15. Of the 21 sports with headquarters in Colorado Springs, 13 of them now have offices in the Olympic Complex and would be likely candidates to move into the refurbished building near America the Beautiful Park.

The Olympic Training Center, at 1 Olympic Plaza, also will undergo a broad modernization. LandCo will pour $16 million into the complex, adding 158 housing units (including 70 for athletes who are married, also with children), expanding the cafeteria, renovating the visitor center, rerouting internal roads and creating a new entrance from Union Boulevard (rather than Boulder Street). The improvements are expected to be complete by December 2009.

In exchange, the quasi-governmental Downtown Development Authority will help subsidize development of LandCos downtown properties. The authority officially approved its part of the agreement Thursday.

The city and El Paso County will offer LandCo up to $500,000 in rebates and/or exemptions from sales taxes on building materials involved in the deal. Mayor Lionel Rivera also plans to lead a fundraising campaign for the project, and the downtown USOC was recently added to the list of Enterprise Zones, meaning Colorado taxpayers can now contribute to the project and receive a state income tax credit.

A recent report by David Bamberger and Associates determined the Olympic and related sports industry in the Springs has an economic output of $341.3 million, employing 3,480 workers who earn $146.7 million. They also bring in nearly $9 million in sales, property, lodging and auto-rental tax revenue. The city expects the continued Olympic presence will bring additional money and 20 percent more visitors.

stanley@csindy.com

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