Downtown looks for apartments, new Partnership CEO in 2013

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There was a lot of energy behind trying to create a downtown renaissance in 2012 — and advocates say to expect that energy to continue building in 2013.

“The single biggest thing is going to be hiring a new CEO for the Downtown Partnership,” said Hannah Parsons, interim executive director. “Whoever it is will make a big difference in what happens next year.”

The Downtown Partnership organizes downtown events and marketing efforts as well as managing funds from a business improvement district and the Downtown Development Authority. Those funds can be used to beautify downtown with improvements like flower pots and holiday lights or can be given as grants to business owners for physical enhancements to their buildings.

The CEO job posting went up Dec. 21 and Parsons said the partnership is hoping to hire a new CEO by March 1. Ron Butlin, who had served as executive director for four years, resigned from the post in October.

Parsons said the search for a new executive will be broad and the partnership will accept applications from outside of the city, but that there will be a preference for someone who knows downtown Colorado Springs well and has been following its evolution.

In addition to hiring a new champion to lead a downtown renaissance, Parsons said there will likely be other developments in keeping with recommendations from the Urban Land Institute, which sent 10 experts in downtown redevelopment to Colorado Springs for a week in June.

Among the panel’s top recommendations was that developers construct apartments in the downtown area to increase the population in the city center.

“I think there are three groups working on that,” Parsons said. “It would be nice to see one of those break ground in 2013.”

Bob and Karen Elliott, who built the Two Eight West luxury condominium project on the edge of Monument Valley Park, purchased land near the intersection of Nevada Avenue and Costilla Street at a foreclosure auction in October. Bob Elliott said he plans to build a mixed-use retail and apartment project there.

Nor’wood Development Group and Griffis/Blessing both own multiple parcels of land downtown and have said recently that they were hoping to be able to announce apartment projects. But neither has made any announcements yet.