Monday, December 10, 2018

UPDATE: Downtown development includes Vermijo Avenue streetscape

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 4:54 PM

  • City of Colorado Springs presentation


City Council voted Dec. 11 unanimously, with councilors Bill Murray and Merv Bennett absent, to approve an urban renewal designation for the block southwest of Tejon and Costilla streets — the proposed site of a hotel.

In addition, Council voted unanimously with Murray absent at the same meeting to approve an urban renewal designation for what used to be known as the Southwest Downtown URA. Now, it will be called the Museum and Park Urban Renewal Area. The new area is slightly smaller than the previous about 100 acres, and is bounded by Colorado Avenue and West Cucharras Street on the north, Cascade Avenue and Sahwatch Street on the east, Cimarron Street on the south and Interstate 25 on the west. It excludes most of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railyard right of way.

Council also approved the use of tax increment financing by both urban renewal areas. TIF is the amount of sales and property tax above the base level prior to development that's brought about after development. The money, approved for a term of 25 years, is to be used for public infrastructure such as sidewalks and utilities.

————————ORIGINAL POST 4:54 P.M. MONDAY, DEC. 10, 2018————————

It's hard to imagine how you could spend $11.3 million on a bridge that will span a block or so, but that's what will happen with the construction of the pedestrian bridge that will connect the Olympic Museum, due to open in late 2019, and America the Beautiful Park in lower downtown.

City Council heard a presentation Dec. 10 about progress on the project, which apparently will be built by Kiewit Construction, according to materials attached to the Council agenda.

The bridge's total cost is set at $15.6 million. Add to that $24.5 million to rehab Vermijo Avenue east of the project site into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. That's $40.1 million total.

Here's where the money will come from, according to the presentation:

As you can see, there will need to be more money added to fully fund the two projects.

The Regional Tourism Act empowered the Colorado Economic Development Commission to allow state sales tax money produced because of development in a certain area to be applied toward public infrastructure to support economic development. The city won approval for $120.5 million from the EDC for the City for Champions tourism projects. The museum is one of those. Others will be located at the Air Force Academy (visitors center), the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (sports medicine center), Colorado College (arena) and lower downtown (soccer stadium).

The city issued this news release about the streetscape project:
The City of Colorado Springs today presented the Signature Street plan for the redevelopment of Vermijo St. The total redevelopment features a wide, pedestrian and business-friendly format that will render the street appropriate for both pedestrians and automobiles while offering the opportunity to host festivals and plaza-type events. The large-scale plan also includes completion of a modern pedestrian bridge that will finally connect America the Beautiful Park with downtown Colorado Springs, a goal that has been envisioned in the downtown master plan for decades.

"Vermijo was identified as a future 'signature street' for our city years ago, and it's exciting to actually have the renderings that can help us visualize just how transformative this project will be for southwest downtown," said Project Engineer Ryan Phipps. "By combining low impact development, smart technologies, effective stormwater management and an overall design that will draw people to the area, this is truly the type of project we're seeing in best-in-class cities nationwide."

Tejon is the city's only signature street at present.

Phipps further stated that design and engineering for this project was impacted by extensive research into best practices in other major cities across the country. "What we ultimately chose to do with Vermijo was to embrace a timeless design that is flexible enough to make this street sustainable for the next 50 or 100 years. While providing a very classic aesthetic, it will also be equipped to host temporary features and displays that can easily be updated or refreshed. In addition, we will set it up to be ready for evolving smart technologies, from smart street lights to smart parking, kiosks and sensor-driven irrigation."

In addition, the streetscape will use an innovative underground stromwater filtering system which will collect and cleanse runoff by using the natural materials created by the trees lining the two-lane road. Once cleaned by this natural and sustainable system, the water will collect in an underground basin before flowing to Fountain Creek.

Other features of the plan include ADA and bike-friendly accommodations on the pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to America the Beautiful Park, a curb-less design making the street appropriate for festivals and events while remaining accessible, pre-run power for on-street activation and thoughtful planting using the small-leaved and disease resistant Honey Locust tree.

Funding for the project will come from multiple sources to include PPRTA, Regional Tourism Act funding (RTA) granted by the successful City for Champions application, Colorado Springs Utilities and the business improvement district, which was established in 2017.

The funding breakdown is anticipated as follows:
- $17M from the Business Improvement District (BID)
- $9.2M in State RTA funding
- $7.9M in PPRTA funding
- $3M from Colorado Springs Utilities
- $1.3M for the stormwater infrastructure as a pre-identified IGA project
-$1.3M from the parking enterprise

The project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020.
Go to this link for more information

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