Brunswick plans offer hope for Marketplace at Interquest

Filed under: Daily News,Retail |

Mark Rogers, owner of Cheddar’s Casual Café, hopes a new Brunswick family entertainment center in the Marketplace at Interquest will be the first step toward development that might bring daytime business to the stalled commercial development on the far north end of town.

The restaurant is full in the evenings and on weekends and most people who have tried to dine there will likely complain of long waits. But daytime business has lagged.

“We don’t have a lot of retail in this area that would bring a lot of business during the day,” Rogers said.

The 188-acre Marketplace at Interquest was designed to be home to a hotel and conference center, movie theater, two to three banks, four to five restaurants, a gas station and 18 commercial buildings, according to Nor’Wood Development Group’s Concept Plan submitted to the City of Colorado Springs Land Development Review Board in 2006.

So far, two of the four or five restaurants are finished and standing: Cheddar’s and Colorado Mountain Brewery. Hollywood Theaters was the first finished building at the Marketplace. Development plans are under review for a Kum & Go gas station.

Brunswick has renewed a building permit to construct a $7.6 million, 50,000-square-foot facility.

Missouri-based Brinkmann Constructors has contracted to finish the bowling and entertainment center at 1180 Interquest parkway. It will count as one of the commercial buildings suggested in Nor’Wood’s concept plan.

But no other development plans have been submitted to the city, said planner Meggan Harrington.

Much of what was envisioned in the concept plan for the marketplace has not even entered the preliminary stages of development.

“I don’t think they’re moving along as fast as they wanted,” Harrington said.

Nor’Wood representatives did not return phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Brunswick’s plans were filed in 2007 and were revised in 2008. Harrington said that companies have four years from the time their development plans are approved to pull building permits and start construction. Otherwise the plans expire and the builders have to start the approval process over again.

Many developers have been sitting on plans approved in 2007 through 2009 when the economic downturn started, Harrington said.

“In 2007 and 2008 they probably thought they were going right to building,” Harrington said. “But in 2008, that’s when we saw things dropping off.”

Rogers said was prepared for slow lunch sales until the commercial development grew around his restaurant. But he didn’t expect it to take as long as it has to get started.

Cheddar’s opened about a year and a half ago.

The John Q. Hammons Renaissance Hotel and conference center that was to be an anchor for the commercial center has been boarded up and stuck in litigation for more than a year.

The 11-story, 300-suite hotel and adjacent 50,000-square-foot conference center is about 70 percent complete.

Construction company Flintco won a foreclosure judgment on the property when it filed a lawsuit claiming that John Q. Hammons owed the company more than $27 million for work it did on the Colorado Springs hotel.

Flintco will collect after an El Paso County Sheriff’s foreclosure auction Oct. 20. The bidding is expected to start at about $30 million based on figures in court documents. While many have expressed interest in the hotel, speculators wonder if Flintco will get its initial bid or if the property will even sell at auction.

Hammons said he invested $47 million of his own money in the project in 2009 and was about to borrow $70 million more before he fell ill and was admitted to a nursing home more than a year ago.

“We are anxiously awaiting not only the sale of the hotel,” Rogers said, “but also the completion of the property. I think that will provide the biggest increase in business of anything.”