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Jun 1, 2013 11:45 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Improvements underway to boost business in downtown Colorado Springs

Improvement projects are underway to try and make downtown Colorado Springs a destination for shopping and entertainment in an effort to boost business.

It's taken a lot of work to make downtown Colorado Springs what it is today. Shopper Kim Gilbert said she enjoys the atmosphere on Tejon Street, but noticed that some days there aren't a lot of people out on the street.

"Very quant place, very nice, I feel safe here, it's just very nice to be able to walk around and have a nice place to go," Gilbert described. "It's not very busy all the time, no."

Of course there are many who may like a lack of crowds, but business owners aren't among them. Ari Howard, one of the owners of McCabe's Tavern, said their seven-years in business have been trying at times.

"It's a very spread out city and there's a lot of the population out east and farther west and the more attention we can draw to downtown the better," Howard explained.

Now there are efforts underway to bring that attention. Susan Edmondson has been President and CEO of the Downtown Partnership for about three-months and has put into motion plans to improve the downtown experience and bring more foot traffic.

"It's two-fold in terms of major new projects and developments that take a lot of time to implement that we're really moving the needle on as well as how do we enhance the day to day experience," Edmondson said.

Long term projects include construction work being done now to beautify more sections of Tejon Street. Currently on the 500-block, where McCabe's Tavern is located, crews are installing flower gardens and other features to improve the look on that section to make it more uniform with the rest of downtown.

"We're off the grid by a few blocks," Ari Howard described. "It's gonna do a lot to draw attention to by-passers."

Short term projects include cultural events and features that are designed to improve the atmosphere. The summer concert series has kicked off and the Downtown Partnership is hiring street performers to work on corners on from July 11 through August 17 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

"Very talented, mostly local, artists and musicians," Susan Edmondson explained.

Edmondson also said, despite the city backing down on the solicitation ban downtown, efforts to curb panhandling have made progress.

"To ensure that we deal with this in a compassionate manner, but that we create an environment that everyone feels safe and welcome downtown," she said.

The funds for the construction work and other improvements come from money collected from parking meters downtown.

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