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Street paving, downtown development in Colorado Springs

Can city learn from similar development in Denver?

Downtown development street paving in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Street paving and downtown development issues were updated Monday in Colorado Springs.

City officials held an event Monday to mark the halfway point in the second year of the five-year expanded street paving project financed by the voter-approved 2-C sales tax increase.

The ceremony took place at the intersection of Centennial Boulevard and Chuckwagon Road.

"The halfway point was actually earlier this summer but we decided to have it now because we've had a lot of rain delays," saif Corey Farkas, manager of the city's Streets Division.

Despite weather delays, Farkas said, paving has remained on time and under budget.

"It's because our contractor has the resources to add extra crews when necessary," he said.

Crews hope to pave 242 lane-miles of streets and roads when paving season ends in late October.

"I want to thank the public for voting for this, and for being patient during the process," said Mayor John Suthers.

Also on Monday, a city planner revealed that the current downtown redevelopment plan, centered around the construction of the U.S. Olympic Museum, used Denver's downtown plan as a model -- even though Denver's downtown is much larger.

"Denver's been extremely successful with its LoDo, lower downtown district," said Jariah Walker, executive director of the city's Urban Renewal Authority.  "The 16th Street Mall, the area around Coors Field and the Union Station have all been successful.  We've studied Denver to learn what works and what doesn't."

Walker said both downtowns have strong support from the public and private sectors and include housing in their redevelopments to provide long-term economic stability.

"The entire state is watching our Olympic Museum project because it's the first time state tourism dollars have been used, and people want to see to what extent it actually sparks redevelopment in an area we've tried to improve for decades," he said.

A significant difference between the two areas is that since 1990, Denver has opened Coors Field, a convention center and a convention center hotel.

Efforts to build a downtown sports stadium and convention center in Colorado Springs have stalled.

Several people say they hope the local downtown improvements include aspects of Denver's LoDo district.

"I love Denver because they have the (light rail)," said Olivia Gurizzian.  "It's easy to get around and it's safe."

"They should make sure there's enough parking," said Sandy Tichinel.  "I hope they do things similar to the 16th Street Mall because I like the way they did it there."

But Leroy Hibbitts is skeptical.

"The development effort is somewhat questionable here, based on our history," he said.  "I just hope they do more to make America the Beautiful Park better."

The local development plan includes a two-story underground parking garage and a $10 million pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks, to link the park to the museum and the rest of downtown.

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