According to the Nor’wood Development Group Vice President Fred Veitch, Powers Boulevard is king of the Springs when it comes to retail.
Much of that is thanks to Nor’wood itself, which owns the First & Main Town Center, home to numerous heavy hitters in the retail and hospitality industry.
And while development continues on the east side of the city, Veitch says it’s slowing, mostly due to a lack of competitive concepts.
He adds, though, that First & Main, which continues to attract new tenants, is an example of growth due to strategic development meeting the high demand presented by a growing easterly population.
“When you merge a good combination of retail, dining and entertainment, you draw more people,” Veitch said. “Several of our retailers are doing the best in the state or at least in the top two.”
Sometime this spring, Veitch said First & Main will add a 10,000-square-foot Ulta Beauty cosmetics supply store between the movie theater and Dick’s Sporting Goods. In addition, Veitch said Nor’wood is finalizing a lease agreement for a 22,000-square-foot retail establishment between Dick’s and Tucanos Brazilian Grill, but he declined to say what that establishment will be. He said construction should begin within the next 30-45 days and an announcement will be made around the same time.
There has been some discrepancy between the central and northern portions of the Powers corridor; while the 32-year-old anchor store Kmart on Palmer Park and Powers boulevards shut its doors earlier this year, retail establishments continue to sprout just a short distance north.
Veitch said the growth north of Palmer Park and Powers is directly linked to housing density.
“Heading south of Palmer Park [Boulevard], there’s less density that’s needed to be successful,” Veitch said. “Retailers need to be where there’s more mass and synergism to support shopping. Retailers want to be around other retailers, especially successful ones, and consumers want to combine shopping trips and have multiple purchasing opportunities.”
While the Powers retail landscape is relatively new, Veitch said he is not concerned Nor’wood’s piece of the Powers corridor will face struggles seen by other local retail districts, including Academy Boulevard.
Veitch pointed to the public demand for Nor’wood’s retailers as well as access for consumers as examples of the developer going to “great lengths” to accommodate shoppers in the area. He said even parking reflects the demands of consumers in Colorado Springs, as there are no compact car parking spaces because “people in the Springs drive SUVs and full-sized vehicles.”
“We’ve made it as convenient as we can,” he said.
“Powers is not Academy.”
Veitch added that a Kangaroo Coffee will also open soon near the JCPenney at Powers and North Carefree, and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries is slated for First & Main. In addition, the west side of Powers Boulevard at South Carefree will be home to Texas-based Cavender’s Western Outfitters apparel store, which plans to open this fall, according to its Facebook page.
John Egan is a retail broker with Highland Commercial Group LLC, the owners of the retail Powers Center that adjoins the now-defunct Kmart at Palmer Park and Powers boulevards.
The commercial property that once housed the Kmart is owned by New Jersey-based Garden Commercial Properties, a subsidiary of Garden Homes. Egan said there’s been “lots of interest from brokers” regarding the former Kmart property, and that any business that moves into that location should provide more support for adjacent commercial properties, as the decades-old Kmart did not draw many customers.
“Anything would be better than Kmart,” Egan said. “It didn’t really provide a lot of help to the center. I don’t know what will end up there, but it’s a very good location with lots of frontage and it will cost a lot less to fill than new construction.”
Egan said the cost of commercial space between Constitution Avenue and Pikes Peak Boulevard is attractive to smaller local and regional tenants, because leases are cheaper and there are less-restrictive use clauses than the commercial properties available in the First & Main center.
Egan said those smaller businesses, including a paint store, liquor store, dry cleaner and a Max Fitness gym, are the demographic that have filled his strip of commercial properties.
Egan added that the Powers Center also sits outside of city limits, so consumers aren’t subjected to city sales tax, an attractive perk for potential businesses.
Egan said there are three commercial sub-markets in Colorado Springs, those being Academy Boulevard, the southern edge of the city near The Broadmoor, and Powers Boulevard, with the northern portions between Colorado Springs and Monument quickly developing into a fourth sub-market.
He added, however, that development along Powers is the only one with nearly unrestricted growth potential.
“Up north, Black Forest blocks development to the east. The Air Force Academy is to the west. Development is going well now, but there are limits as to what can go in out there,” Egan said. “Powers, on the other hand, can go east past Highway 24 towards Falcon.”
Egan said that, ultimately, businesses have chosen to develop or move to the Powers corridor from other sub-markets because of the vast and quickly expanding residential sector on the east side of the city, reiterating that businesses follow rooftops.
“In the long term, [residential development] is why Powers became important to retailers. They are leaving Academy Boulevard because they needed to move or lose out on future growth like we’re seeing at Banning Lewis Ranch.
“The traffic counts out there are big and they’re getting larger,” he said. “The sky’s the limit when it comes to residential growth east of Powers.”
Joe Loidolt is president of Classic Homes, the developer responsible for much of the residential expansion along the Powers corridor. Loidolt said Classic Homes is beginning its newest eastern development in order to keep up with demand.
Construction on Hannah Ridge will begin shortly, with approximately 300 lots expected to be developed near Constitution Avenue and Marksheffel Road, Loidolt said.
“The inventory [of homes on the east side] is pretty much gone,” he said. “The market slowed and so did land development. The homebuilding market has picked back up but development has not picked up as quickly. It’s eaten through our land inventory.”
Loidolt said Classic Homes has developed at least 1,000 homes on the eastern edge of the city over the past 25 years, including Springs Ranch, Wolf Ranch, Banning Lewis Ranch and Indigo Ranch.
He said the Powers corridor is appealing to young families and first-time homebuyers because of the area’s affordability and the commercial amenities nearby, adding that Hannah Ridge’s mid-range prices should help the development fill quickly.
“Powers is a bigger market than our other developments,” Loidolt said. “It hits a lower price band. Flying Horse, for instance, is a higher price band. It’s very popular but it’s a smaller portion of the market.
“As for the market in general, Powers is bigger than anywhere. There are lots of services and it’s just a nice part of town. It’s growing and new.”