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Sunday, September 30, 2007

 

Colorado Springs - Highway 24 Redevelopment

The City of Colorado Springs has recently been addressing the issue of widening Highway 24, heading west from downtown Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs. This area is the gateway to the mountains, attractions, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. The project is deemed necessary due to the increased traffic congestion along with areas along this roadway being in a 100-year flood plain. I have paid some attention to this issue through the local newspapers, however I attended a meeting last week and realized the apparant reason behind this project.

The widening of the highway will require in the exact words of the planners "taking" of land along the current roadway for redevelopment. The road will be widened and bridges and drainage improved to accomodate the current flood plain issues. The redeveloped land will then be parceled off and sold to the highest bidder. This will assist the local government in the costs of this project. I question what happens to the current property owners who are having their land "taken". Will be paid market value for their property as-is or as redeveloped? The answer is as-is as the redeveloped land will be further developed to accomodate strip centers, restaurants and potential for chain stores. I personally feel this is against what "west-siders" want with the redeveloped land. This redeveloped land will be more densely zoned to generate a higher tax base for the City of Colorado Springs in the future. It will not allow some current "mom and pop" businesses to relocate to this area as land rent and property values will increase with the property improvements.

I feel the highway project is necessary for future growth in this area, however some businesses and property owners will be driven from this area. I asked the question at this meeting - "What do you mean by redeveloped"? he answer I was provided said that new business or developers would come in to oversee this portion. I can only hope that the West-Side and Manitou Springs will push to keep their unique nature and not allow large box stores or retail to overtake this "redeveloped" land. The west-side is an area where people live who don't want this type of business in their backyard. I don't look at this as economic growth, rather reallocation of tax base to this area, when they can shop 3 miles away on 8th Street. I realize it is a process of change, yet sometimes change is not a good thing.

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