With Bass Pro Shop, Copper Ridge springs back to life

Bass Pro Shops announced Wednesday that it has signed a letter of intent to open a 117,000-square-foot store at the planned 200-acre Copper Ridge retail development near North Gate Boulevard and Interstate 25.

This is the first announcement developer Gary Erickson has made about the project since progress appeared to be stalled after El Paso County Commissioners reject a proposal in March to pool public and private money for extending Powers Boulevard to the area.

The commissioners cited concerns about the area not being a viable location for a massive retail development like the one Erickson proposed. Some also indicated that they opposed supporting the project because they believed the City should not have awarded the distant untouched land urban renewable status.

They also said they doubted Erickson’s ability to attract a strong anchor to the development.

Erickson said in a prepared statement that he would break ground on the retail structure in April.

Erickson did not return calls for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Katie Mitchell, spokeswoman for Bass Pro Shops, said the company sometimes owns its buildings outright and sometimes leases space from developers. She wasn’t sure what arrangement Bass has with Erickson.

But their buildings are always enormous and elaborate, featuring running streams, interactive wildlife displays and intricate and ornate details.

“In several of the states where we’re located, we are the number one tourist attraction,” Mitchell said.

Bass Pro Shops is a destination retailer that likes locations with rich hunting and fishing traditions, Mitchell said. People often drive 200 miles to shop at the stores.

“We will be the first in this project,” she said. “We will be the anchor.”

While the first, Erickson’s press release indicates that the Bass Pro Shops facility will only be the beginning. The Copper Ridge development is expected to include more than 2 million square feet of retail, restaurants, offices, residential lofts and a hotel, according to the release. That’s twice the size of the other two malls in Colorado Springs.

Plans include a 30,000-square foot resort hotel with an indoor/outdoor water park that is expected to open in 2014.

The hotel would be located fewer than 4 miles from the still stalled John Q. Hammons Renaissance Hotel at Interquest Parkway and Interstate 25.

Bass Pro Shops is also planning to include its Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill, which offers 12 lanes of bowling in what feels like an underwater environment and a family casual dining restaurant just under 4 miles from a brand new Brunswick Zone bowling facility at Interquest Parkway and I-25.

Erickson said in his press release that he estimates the project will create about 4,000 jobs.

The Bass Pro Shop is expected to create 250 jobs as soon as it opens, according to the release.