In 2007, Mayor Lionel Rivera made revitalization of the decaying commercial corridor a priority.
It was a recognition that retail flight to the ‘burbs of Powers Boulevard, Woodmen Road and points north had taken its toll on Academy.
Especially the six miles from Drennan Road north to Maizeland Road.
Thanks to a federal transit grant, the city now has money to study options for the boulevard.
This is the start of a process that could reshape Academy, which is unusual in Colorado Springs. It’s a major artery that originated in the late 1950s in the city’s north end, at the entrance to the Air Force Academy.
Gradually, it was built to the south and became the retail heart of the city when The Citadel mall opened in February 1972 at Platte Avenue.
Big box retailers flocked to the area in strip malls. It boomed until the 1990s when a massive population explosion led to development of neighborhoods east and north. Retailers followed, setting up shops along Powers. Today, much of South Academy is marred by vacant stores.
Go to the public hearing and give the experts your ideas.
Should it be reclassified from a major artery/limited access expressway down to a slower moving roadway conducive to residential redevelopment?
What about curb cuts or changes to make it viable for rapid transit or light rail?
Here’s an excellent piece The Gazette’s expert Rich Laden wrote Dec. 29, 2007, on the plight of Academy Boulevard.
His story was accompanied by a great graphic that detailed the corridor.
Below is a map of the corridor and corresponding explanations of the various sections as Laden found them at the time.