Colorado Springs developer believes city will support high-end shopping center

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Don’t drive an hour-and-a-half to do high-end shopping, just travel 25 minutes from anywhere in Colorado Springs. That’s the basis behind the marketing strategy with the First & Main Town Center being developed by Nor’wood Development Group. The 138-acre site, along S. Carefree Circle and Powers Boulevard, is set to be 100 percent complete before Christmas in 2004. Of the acres, 865,000 square feet is available as leasable space, including 333,000 square feet of shopping. Shoppers can experience the outdoor retail center in slices before indulging in the entire pie.

During an economic downtime, the need for a high-end shopping center may seem an interesting investment. A telephone survey done for Nor’wood concerning the retail market in the Springs, found 72 percent of the population near the retail center expressed a desire to shop there. The same survey showed more than 20 percent of the market area are not catering to its residents, and as a result, most shoppers head to Denver for purchases.

“We expect to have over 50,000 people a day,” said Fred Veitch, vice president of retail development at Nor’wood. “We think $8 to $10 million in sales tax revenue (will be generated), and a lot of these people are unique to our market.”

A study by Gregory Stoffel & Assoc. found total retail sales for the trade area exceeded $7.7 billion in 1998, and Veitch said First & Main wants to embrace big spenders in the Springs market.

Some of the retail stores, like Lowe’s and Galyan’s, are the only stores of their kind in Colorado Springs. To get to other store locations, shoppers would have to drive to Flatirons Crossing in Broomfield.

Stepping beyond the whole

The project started four years ago with Nor’wood’s vision to build mixed retail and restaurants that are, “a step above what’s being offered in the marketplace,” said Veitch.

The first phase of the project broke ground two years ago. The second phase is trying to get about 50 to 60 specialty retail stores built around an up and running 16-plex Cinemark theater. As of now, Nor’wood has six to eight stores that are committed in its plan, and is in the process of managing other commitments from retailers. Veitch said the company hopes to be completed with phase two by fall 2002 or early spring 2003.

Phase three will include additional retail as well as tying down a fashion anchor for First & Main. Plans are in the discussion phase with several interested department stores, though Veitch would not release any names. The final phase is estimated to be completed around Christmas, 2004.

Besides the hub-bub of retail, a movie theater and an IMAX, Veitch said Nor’wood wants to make First & Main a meeting place for the community — not for just shopping, but for events.

About 1.5 acres is set aside for an activities park where performances and concerts will be held, as well as other community events that will be free and open to the public.

“Once (the park) opens there will be activities all the time,” said Veitch.

Outdoor centers are increasing in popularity in most markets, Veitch said, adding that Coloradans will enjoy the presentation of First & Main. It is difficult, said Veitch to predict if there will be a seasonal side-step of sales in winter months. “If you have quality merchants, we would expect to be very strong in sales,” he said. “Retail sales in the Springs continues to be strong, and this type of goods and services are not currently offered to the marketplace.”