Soaring Eagles residents want Colorado Springs to think outside the box. Big Box Retail, that is.
Folks in the 600-home Soaring Eagles neighborhood in southeast Colorado Springs thought they had convinced the city to do just that in 2006 when a long, loud and emotional debate dissuaded Wal-Mart from building a Supercenter on 28 vacant acres.
To be fair, they also turned out en masse and made passionate, well-reasoned arguments about the impact of a 24-hour-a-day operation attracting 10,000 cars daily into their little neighborhood and the impact it would case in terms of trash, crime and noise from customers, delivery trucks and the like.
(They took a cue from other communities that have successfully fought intrusion by big box retailers. There are Web sites devoted to those efforts including http://walmartwatch.com)
At the time, city planners urged Wal-Mart to cut down the size of its planned building.
The neighborhood thought it had won the war when Wal-Mart dropped its plans in the face of such fierce opposition. But prime real estate never sits idle for long. And this 28 acres sits on the city’s hottest new retail corridor at the corner of Powers Boulevard and Hancock Expressway.
(Yes, Hancock Expressway intersects with Powers. It’s one of those “Only in Colorado Springs” street alignments. It’s a two-block, east-west segment of the expressway that doesn’t connect to the actual Hancock Expressway. Hello, traffic engineering! But I digress.)
Here’s a look at the land from FlashEarth.com:
Anyway, it probably shouldn’t have surprised anyone last September when architects for the land owners approached the city and began talking about a new concept plan for the property.
No tenants have been identified and the plan has not been formally filed. But a lot of work has gone into designing a regional shopping center and neighbors are convinced they are staring at their future in the architect’s drawings.
Colorado Springs city planner Mike Schultz said the new plan includes significant concessions from the original plan developed for Wal-Mart.
Here is the original plan for a 207,000-square-foot Wal-Mart and associated gas station.
Below is the new plan being considered by the ownership.
Soaring Eagles residents are not planning a screaming contest to shout down the latest plan. Rather, they are doing what they did before: organizing and rallying neighbors to get involved and speak up.
Want to know why residents oppose the big box? Read an excellent, in-depth look at the issue written in December 2007 by The Gazette’s real estate guru Rich Laden.
They’ve also hired their own architect to create alternative designs for the land to show the owners how it could be more appropriately developed in harmony with the residential neighborhood that surrounds it.
HOA president Corey Hepworth said Soaring Eagles wants to avoid joining the list of Springs neighborhoods suffering today because huge retailers came and went, abandoning their big box buildings to sit and rot for years and years.
“We don’t want an empty field sitting there where people ride their ATVs and throw their junk,” Hepworth said. “But why should the developer’s right to make money out-weigh the rights of 536 homeowners to protect their property values?”