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Urban Renewal Authority Board has open seat, board will oversee funds for City for Champions

Published: January 20, 2014, 9:23 pm, by Monica Mendoza

If you want a front-row seat and a voice in the City for Champions projects, you may want to apply for a seat on the Urban Renewal Authority Board.

Mayor Steve Bach wants to fill a slot on the nine-member volunteer board, which oversees City-Council approved redevelopment projects.

Something sure to dominate the board’s discussions for at least the next five to 10 years is the much talked-about City for Champions projects – which includes two downtown projects in southwest downtown, a mostly light industrial area the City Council declared an urban renewal site in 2001.

In December, the city was awarded $120.5 million by the Colorado Economic Development Commission. That money is a portion of state sales tax revenue expected to be generated over 30 years by new, out-of-state visitors who come to town to see the projects. The projects include a downtwon events center, a downtown Olympic museum, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs sports medicine complex and an Air Force Academy visitor’s center. The total combined cost, along with a downtown parking garage and other public improvements in the area, could be $250 million.

The Urban Renewal Authority Board definitely will have a developing role in the two downtown projects, said Jim Rees, the urban renewal authority’s executive director. City for Champions architects envision the sports and events center for downtown’s southwest side, southwest of Colorado and Cascade avenues. However, none of the sites are final and land acquisition remains another major next step.

The authority will be the recipient of the state funds that flow into the city through state sales tax rebates. And its board will work closely with the city’s Regional Tourism Act board, which has not been set up but likely will include the mayor, the City Council president, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners chairman and representatives from the four tourism projects. That RTA board would oversee allocation of state funds and make sure the projects would be developed according to the RTA, the law under which City for Champions backers successfully sought state funding.

“There will be a lot of coordination,” Rees said.

There always is great interest in the authority’s board, Rees said. But the City for Champions projects has highlighted the board’s role in redevelopment in the city, he said.

“The biggest role of the authority is when the cash flow starts to determine if it will be enough and whether to sell bonds to support the infrastructure,” Rees said.

Currently the Urban Renewal Authority is managing nine projects including Ivywild Neighborhood, Copper Ridge, Gold Hill Mesa and North Nevada Avenue Corridor.

Rees does not have a say in the next board member but said most of the interest comes from real estate developers and attorneys. Board members serve five year terms, Rees said. So the next person on the board will have input into the City for Champions projects, which is the amount of time the state has given the city for “substantial work” to have begun on all four projects.

The new board member can expect to spend about four hours per month and begin the term April 1. The Board meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The mayor’s press release said the preferred applicants would have a background in strategic planning, financial analysis and knowledge of real estate; and familiarity with the City’s Development Review Process is desirable.  

Anyone interested in applying for the spot on the board should send letter of interest and resume no later than Feb. 15 to jharwig@springsgv.com or mail to Mayor Steve Bach, 30 South Nevada, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903.

For questions or more information, call 719-385-5900.