Yes, Colorado Springs.
If Colorado Springs wishes to shed it's image as the poor stepchild of Denver, it needs to do gutsy, collaborative things that Denver can not do. Colorado Springs needs to utilize the base of one-of-a-kind assets that exist only here and convert them into long-term benefits.
Highway 24 and 21st is the perfect place to re-define the Colorado Springs business meets arts meets recreational landscape.
At this single intersection, the former Van Briggle Building (more accurately titled "The Wheelhouse Building") has just opened with Carmichael Fitness. The world-class personal trainer of Lance Armstrong will have my favorite bike shop in town as a tenant come the end of the month as Pro Cycling joins the building. Across the street is Angler's Covey, the largest retail space devoted to fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains.
Demographically, Skyway and the Broadmoor are a heartbeat to the south.
Energetically, Old Colorado City and it's 120 year history of slightly eccentric shopping, dining and imbibing.
Two miles to the east is downtown.
And through this intersection pass hundreds of thousands of tourists and Coloradoans headed for Purple Mountain Majesty and other recreation in Pike National Forest and beyond. Garden of the Gods? A bike ride. Red Rock Canyon and superb rock climbing? Three intersections west.
Flowing through all of this is Fountain Creek. Dave Leinweber at Angler's Covey wants to organize Trout Unlimited Volunteers to do streamside habitat restoration to bring trout back to the waters of Fountain Creek... within the city limits of Colorado Springs. Wow, Denver has a thriving carp fishery below the sewage treatment plant on the South Platte. Imagine if Colorado Springs had catchable rainbows and brookies behind Amanda's Fonda?
Have I mentioned that the Manitou Arts Theatre already occupies a venue on Pecan Street?
Have I mentioned that we also need an outdoor ampitheatre for live music and play productions during the spring and summer?
That the best Farmer's Market is at Bancroft Park, six blocks away from this intersection?
Trader Joe's wants a hook before they move into new areas. Colorado Blue Laws do not prevent them from opening a grocery store with alcohol. Grocery stores can apply for a single store exception, and I know of a Safeway in Denver with a liquor license for wine and spirits. There is no question that the California (and Virginia and Minnesota) transplants would go ga-ga over Trader Joe's anywhere in Colorado. But what would really give Trader Joe's the necessary angle for development in Colorado would be to anchor great SUSTAINABLE development. This is not the grocery store in the new strip mall. This is not a cash cow (they are a cash cow anywhere and they do not need to be reminded of this). This is the local picnic basket to fuel the after-work concert goers, the sandstone scalers, the mountain bike gear heads, the fly fishing citizenry... and becomes the tourist destination of choice for foodies and culturites across the Front Range.
I have made my recreational piligrimmages to Trader Joe's in Santa Fe and to Cabela's in Sydney, NE. Highway 24 and 21st is begging to be the intersection of choice for the type of intelligent development that only Colorado Springs can produce.
I'm a REALTOR by profession and I specialize in residential real estate. There is no doubt that the impact of this style of development would greatly benefit property values and the city's pathetic commercial tax base. But the real beauty of this is that it would force "rivals" to place nice together and pull off a one of a kind project. This will synthesize developers (commercial and residential) with recreational activists (some Sierra Club folks for sure but I'm also sure plenty of NRA members) with the arts (I sit on the board of COPPeR, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region). Would I financially gain from this? Probably. But the bigger gain would be for the city. The gain would be that the arts could be anchored by local resources in one spot with imaginative venues. That children would have access to outdoor music... and clean water with living trout. The city would have a one-of-a-kind locale that is worth talking about.
It can happen. I'm just hear to asking for fellow members in the movement. Let's help the arts. Let's help the trout. Let's help the city's tax collection. Let's get Trader Joe's to Colorado Springs.