Broadmoor’s newest dreams won’t come soon

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It’s been a long, strange trip for the city of Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor, two feuding organizations locked in a long, unhappy marriage.

When Gen. William Palmer founded the city in 1871, much of the rolling mesa at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain was owned by Burton C. Myers, who planted a few acres in wheat and broom corn, using the latter to make brooms for sale in his Colorado City general store.

Palmer didn’t much care about land outside the corporate boundaries of his new city. His was to be a refined and genteel city, a cultured refuge from the vulgar hurly-burly of the American West. His city would have churches, opera houses, libraries and colleges — not the hustlers, merchants, hookers and broom-sellers of Colorado City.

In the 1880s, wealthy Philadelphian William Wilcox joined with Count James Pourtales in acquiring Myers’ property. They started a dairy farm, but Pourtales had another venture in mind.

Residential lots in the city’s north end were selling for more than $100 a front foot, leading the Count to believe that he could create a fancy new suburb in the country. By 1889, the partners had assembled 2,400 acres, and two years later built a suitably pretentious casino at the terminus of what would become Lake Avenue.

The die was cast. Colorado Springs was the no-fun city, with frame houses crowded together on narrow lots, churches on many corners, and nowhere to get a drink. The Broadmoor was about gracious living, sleeping in on Sunday and lounging at the casino.

Spencer Penrose built his hotel, movie stars and rich folk came to frolic, and everything was fine — but as the years went by, Colorado Springs politicians publicly seethed.

Look at all those rich people! They’re having fun and living high, but we’re paying the rent. They don’t pay city taxes, and that’s unfair to the honest, hardworking folks who do.

Led by Colorado Springs native and soon-to-be-mayor Robert Isaac, City Council unilaterally annexed the entire Broadmoor area in 1978.

Residents got city services, but the city got the better of the deal. Sales and property taxes flowed into municipal coffers, as did revenue from the Lodging and Automobile Renters Tax. LART proceeds were used to fund the city’s quasi-private Convention and Visitors Bureau, which spent the next two decades pushing a downtown convention center.

It didn’t escape The Broadmoor’s notice that its guests paid the lion’s share of LART, but a downtown facility would compete against its own convention center.

Exasperated by such antics, Broadmoor CEO Steve Bartolin joined forces with anti-tax activists to kill off a publicly funded convention center once and for all, sponsoring a successful initiative that forbade the city from even planning such a facility, much less funding it.

And so matters stood, until Bartolin sent a letter to then-Mayor Lionel Rivera in November 2009. In it, Bartolin brutally dissected city leadership, warning that the city soon would become insolvent without major policy changes. The letter went viral, sparking the formation of the City Committee, the strong mayor initiative, Steve Bach’s election and a new era in city government.

Then Phil Anschutz bought The Broadmoor, retained Bartolin as CEO, and embarked on an ambitious plan to remake The Broadmoor as not just another five-star resort, but the five-star resort.

That means resculpting its historic Broadmoor East golf course into one that will challenge the world’s best players. Think Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills or Winged Foot. Think the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open or the Ryder Cup.

Think of permanently closing more than a half-mile of Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard to accomplish Anschutz’s dream.

Despite concerns from residents about wildfires and access to their homes, The Broadmoor is likely to get its way. The local economic impact of hosting a U.S. Open is estimated at $160 million, and city tax collections would benefit accordingly.

Giving up 3,000 feet of two-lane blacktop is a small investment for a big payday, so why not? And if Council vacates the right-of-way, it will mean that the long war between the city and The Broadmoor has finally created a victory for both sides.

U. S. Open sites already have been determined through 2020, and the PGA is set until 2019. The Ryder Cup? Try 2022.

It’s a bold bet by Anschutz, now 73. Most of his contemporaries have long since retired, and fewer still are making business plans that won’t mature for seven, eight or 10 years.

So here’s to you, old settler — may you be around to host The Broadmoor’s first U.S. Open.

7 Responses to Broadmoor’s newest dreams won’t come soon

  1. It’s no surprise that Hazle would take up the cause of his would be friend, Phil Anschutz. He always fawns over folks who wouldn’t give him the sweat off their… backs. But for the rest of us, who won’t benefit from the supposed economic boost, it will be a year-round traffic nightmare if you live anywhere close to the exclusive enclave known as the Broadmoor Hotel. Neighbors will be held hostage to some arcane PGA rule that dictates the length of tournament courses. Meanwhile, the B-Moor has made a tidy profit over the years selling off land to real estate developers instead of keeping it to expand their non-public golf courses. I propose, if Hazle is right, that the fix is already in with an all-too-compliant Council, that the Broadmoor establish a profit sharing program with its recalcitrant neighbors in 80906. Hey, Phil, got a dime to spare for an old settler?

    Mike Hunt
    May 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

  2. Very disappointing that Hazelhurst is willing to endanger the lives of thousands of Broadmoor residents, zoo visitors and outdoor enthusiasts on the chance that a golf tournament might come to the resort every 10 years or so.

    Closing that road could well result in hundreds of deaths by wildfire in the event of an incident anywhere above the hotel. If the city goes along with this, the legal challenges – not to mention the lawsuits if a fire and deaths occur- will bankrupt the city.

    It is sad and actually incredible that this plan to cut off one of 4 access roads to safety is even being given consideration.

    John koury
    May 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm

  3. As one of those residents who live on Penrose Blvd., I am still in shock at the suggestion of closing West Cheyenne Mtn. Blvd.. As an avid golfer, I would like to see major golf tournaments in our area BUT not at the expense of our neighborhood and safety. I have attended all the neighborhood meetings. The first one I attended had the Broadmoor patting itself on the back so many times, it became almost laughable. The second meeting was not much better. I get the gut feeling that the fix is in to close the road. The traffic on Penrose Blvd. will become unbearable. I still do not know how they think we can safely evacuate over 600 homes west of the Broadmoor with West Cheyenne Mtn Blvd. closed. An evacuation plan for the zoo is never discussed in these meetings.

    Jo Ann Freischlag
    May 28, 2013 at 6:50 am

  4. …… if they close the road, and a fire happens… who gives a rat’s butt if it’s a fairway or a tee box ?
    Take the Range Rover, lock in the hubs (oh, that’s right, RR’s, Escalade’s & Denali’s etc are fulltime 4wd, sorry) & knock the fence down. If you’re runnin’ from the blaze, and there’s an open field between you & another road, use that all terrain capability you spent $70k for & git the heck outta Dodge !
    …….. Be serious, you people aren’t worried about escaping a fire, yer concerned that it’ll take an extra 5 min to get the kids to the Springs School tomorrow morning.

    richard black
    May 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

  5. Instead of screaming like Chicken Little why not ask for expansions of the alternate routes as a concession?

    Haywood Anderson
    May 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  6. Haywood, there is simply no room in this mature neighborhood for “expansions of the alternate routes.” Unless Anschutz and his golf buddies are willing to pay for an underground roadway beneath an expanded golf course, it ain’t gonna happen. As for “concessions,” it’s never a good policy to negotiate with terrorists.

    Mike Hunt
    May 30, 2013 at 6:51 am

  7. A little bit of revisionist history in this article. The Broadmore very much wanted to be annexed into the city of Colorado Springs. That way the city and not the hotel would pay for the water and sewer improvements that the hotel required. It was the citizens of Skyway and Ivywild that did not want to be annexed. The “emergency” midnight resolution used by the city council to annex these people was such a raw deal that the Colorado Legislature passed a law the very next session preventing a city from ever doing such a crappy deal again.

    Chris Lukens
    May 30, 2013 at 8:22 pm