Specialty shopping center being planned near I-25

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It was a short romance. It took six months for the Memphis-based Poag & McEwen to fall in love with Colorado. And to seal its promise, the company is negotiating the purchase of an estimated 25 acres at Interstate 25 and Briargate Parkway from La Plata Investments to develop a 250,000-square-foot lifestyle center.

A lifestyle center is a shopping center made up entirely of specialty shops, without department stores and its architecture is designed for an open-air atmosphere, said Terry McEwen, president of the 30-year-old company. Poag & McEwen is coordinating engineering studies and wants to discuss its plans with City Council later this year. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the fall.

A few years ago, while the company was in Denver working on the development of its Aspen Grove center at the intersection at Santa Fe and Mineral avenues, a broker told them of Colorado Springs and its possibilities.

“We looked at this site and other sites,” said McEwen. “We thought that this would be the best site to pursue.”

McEwen said the land is a perfect location for the center because of its good access to a potential customer base and good visibility.

“We’ve been negotiating to purchase property for months,” he said. “We’ve executed (the purchase) in the last few days.” At the time the company first looked at the property, McEwen said, Colorado Springs did not have high-income households to support the center; however, there’s been so much growth that he said the company feels it could now support a lifestyle center. There are 20 lifestyle centers throughout the country; Poag & McEwen have built six of them and this will be Colorado’s second.

“We are very excited to develop a lifestyle center in Colorado Springs, and we fell in love with the market,” said McEwen.

McEwen and Dan Poag, the principals of the company, have also been involved with the leasing and development of 12 regional malls throughout the United States, as well as many strip shopping centers. The Denver project is under construction and is expected to open in November with 66 shops and restaurants, while Colorado Springs’ center will have 50 retail establishments and is expected to be open in time for Christmas 2002. The company is now negotiating with many of the national chains that sell women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, as well as jewelry, shoes, household furnishings and sporting goods to fill shop openings. National-chain restaurants will also be signed.