Friday, April 6, 2018

Air Force Academy unveils new Visitors Center concept

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 5:25 PM

click to enlarge PHOTOS COURTESY AIR FORCE ACADEMY
  • Photos courtesy Air Force Academy
The Air Force Academy hosted a meeting Friday, April 6, in which it unveiled some artist's renderings of the proposed Air Force Academy Visitors Center, part of the Springs' City for Champions tourism initiative.

Here's an Academy post from Facebook about it:
A major community partnership was announced during today's State of USAFA address. The Air Force is in negotiations to begin development on approximately 57 acres by the Academy's North Gate. The new Visitor's Center will be 35,000 sq ft and is slated to include a theater, exhibits, a merchandise shop, and meeting and support space.
As we reported recently, the Academy had sought bids from contractors to build and run the center.

Responding to Facebook questions, the Academy says the new center will incorporate a Santa Fe Trailhead Center into the project. In response to a critic who questioned spending millions of dollars for the center, the Academy wrote, "These are very valid concerns that the Academy took a hard look at. Respectively, the development itself is a public/private venture. In exchange for the Academy leasing the land, the developer is constructing the Visitor Center at no cost to the Academy."

The proposed lease agreement is between the Air Force and Blue and Silver Development Partners LLC, which got some help from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners with its proposal. Minutes from the Nov. 30, 2017, BOCC meeting show a unanimous vote to approve a "Comment Letter to Accompany Response to Proposal as requested by Blue and Silver Development Partners, LLC, for a proposal for development of an Air Force Academy Visitor’s Center and surrounding commercial development."

Blue & Silver had been created two days before that, according to Colorado Secretary of State records. It's located at 2435 Research Parkway, and its registered agent is Daniel Schnepf, who is president and CEO of Matrix Design Group.

Here's a blurb from the Academy's website:
The Air Force is in negotiations with a privately-owned company to begin development on approximately 57 acres by the Academy's North Gate.

The proposed lease includes an agreement between the Air Force and Blue and Silver, LLC, to construct a new visitor's center. The new center will increase the visibility and accessibility for the local community and tourists to the Academy.

The development proposal also includes hotels, office and retail space, an indoor skydiving facility, and a Santa Fe Trailhead Center as part of the City for Champions initiative in Colorado Springs.

Construction could begin as early as 2019 if lease negotiations are successful.

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