By Amanda Hancock
Getting one part of Colorado Springs to grow has been the talk of the town since as far back as 2007.
“Ever since then, there has been a focus on revitalization of the Southeast,” says Carl Schueler, comprehensive planning manager with the city of Colorado Springs. “There have been some pretty positive signs, relatively speaking.”
As the planning manager, Schueler has spent years looking at what’s being built — or not built — in the city’s Southeast, defined loosely as the 80910 and 80916 ZIP codes.
“For a very significant period of time, we didn’t have very much residential and very little commercial development in that corridor,” he says. “We’ve now identified multiple dozens of projects that have moved forward. Stuff is happening down there.”
One of the latest projects comes from Solid Rock Community Development Corporation, which has new ideas for a 38,000-square-foot building and surrounding land near the intersection of Jet Wing Drive and Chelton Road.
After purchasing the property in July 2022, plans have taken shape to build a 70-unit affordable housing complex on roughly 2 acres of land there, according to Ben Anderson, Solid Rock’s executive director. Colorado Springs groups N.E.S. Landscape Architects (known for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Gold Hill Mesa) and Echo Architecture + Interiors (Loyal Coffee, Kinship Landing, The Trolley Block) will help convert the existing commercial building into a retail complex and “community hub,” Anderson says.
Solid Rock previously planned to bring such a community hub to the Mission Trace shopping center, but those efforts have found a new home near Jet Wing Drive.
"We’ve been talking about it for a long time.” - Ben Anderson
“The culture of the Southeast will be expressed there,” Anderson says. “We want to have businesses that the community feels are important.”
One of those businesses will be Stompin’ Groundz, a coffee shop from Southeast resident Julie Ramirez. It is expected to open within the next six months.
“The great thing about this is we own the property, so we have a lot more freedom with the concept of community hub,” Anderson says. “It will give people a place to gather, a place for families, a place for recreation. It’s certainly going to increase the value of that area. All of those things are a benefit to the Southeast.”
A timeline for the entire project is still being determined, Anderson says.
The same corporation is behind The Village at Solid Rock, an affordable housing development that broke ground in April 2022. The Village is planned as a four-story, 77-unit complex of apartments for renters earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.
On Feb. 14, City Council approved the Hancock Commons Urban Renewal Plan, which features 180 apartments and 72 townhomes at market rate and would come with infrastructure updates.
Residents of the area have already seen new developments to include the Swire Coca-Cola USA facility, a 145,000-square-foot building at 1935 Cygnet Heights, which opened its doors in July 2022.
Anderson feels “optimistic” about the future of Southeast Colorado Springs, an area he’s been involved with for 20 years.
“One of the city’s initiatives was always to bring the investment to the Southeast, so it mirrors the rest of the city, and that’s what is taking place,” Anderson says. “It feels good to have it finally happening. We’ve been talking about it for a long time.”