COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It’s just like that movie: if you build it, they will come.
And, have they ever.
A little more than 30 years ago, Powers Boulevard was a two-lane dirt road. Today, it’s a busy six lane corridor, flanked by homes and retail stores.
In that same time frame, El Paso County’s population nearly doubled: in 1985, 368,506 people lived in the county; today, population numbers hover near 700,000.
It’s no surprise, then, that the 80922 zip code – on the east side of Colorado Springs – was ranked in the top ten hottest markets in America. New home construction here is up by an impressive 19.5% in the last seven years. Most of the homes here are owned by millennials, who want a slice of the American Dream.
“That, historically, has been single family detached residential development,” said Peter Wysocki, Colorado Springs’ Director of Planning and Development.
While city limits in Colorado Springs haven’t changed since the acquisition of Banning Lewis Ranch since the 80s, there have been countless areas of infill – both business and residential development. See annexation timeline here.
Add more people in town, plus growth to the east, and it’s an equation that equals congestion.
“We need help to develop the existing arterial system within the city,” said Kathleen Krager, Senior Traffic Engineer for Colorado Springs.
Getting from east to west or vice versa is a struggle she is well aware of, and while there are plans to connect Research to Black Forest Roads; Powers to I-25; she admits, “lanes usually aren’t the solution.”
Instead, Krager said drivers will start to see more “creative” intersections, like the Continuous Flow Intersection at Woodmen and Union, or the Diverging Diamond at Fillmore and I-25.
Housing developers are also taking note: more people are desire “mini cities” within neighborhoods – grocery stores, restaurants, shops – within walking or biking distance to their home, rather than long commutes to the city center.
Colorado Springs residents should expect more additions downtown, too: plans are in the works to build 5,000 condos and apartments over the next 10 to 15 years, according to city planners.