Mar 13, 2014 12:01 AM by Maddie Garrett
The once thriving area on the southeast side of Colorado Springs looks to be making a comeback, after suffering several economic blows and vacant lots left behind. A new city program, called Economic Opportunity Zones is helping to bring in more people and cash flow to the area.
Gold's Gym hit the ground running when it opened up a new gym in Rustic Hills in January.
"They let us know that they did have time constraints so we wanted to step up and make sure that those time constraints were met," said City Economic Development leader Bob Cope.
Cope said the rapid response program helped bring in Gold's Gym and other businesses by speeding up approval processes.
"The new Lowes store at Citadel crossing," Cope noted. "Fairly close to there Garden Ridge took over the Target."
Filling the empty box stores is a big step for the area.
"It was just somewhere you really didn't want to hang around," said Rustic Hills resident Tanner Saucener. "I hope they bring this area back to life."
At the gym life is coming back with every step and lift.
"I also saw that Gold's Gym would potentially bring more businesses around here," said Saucener, who joined the gym.
Gold's Gym General Manager Crystal Sisler said a gym can bring the right kinds of businesses and people to an area. She said they're happy to be a part of this community.
"What better area than Rustic Hills to kind of come in and get our name out there and be able to help the community grow and help change people's lives through fitness," said Sisler.
But it's not all success stories. Right next to the new gym sits a row of vacant lots, some of those businesses moved to other areas of town, like Powers.
Rustic Hills Barber Shop owner Kum Ja has seen the ups and downs of the area, she's had her shop there since 1983.
"It was good when I come at first, but last ten years pretty down hill," said Ja.
All of those vacant lots mean less people and less business for her.
"Right now very hard," said Ja.
She hopes the city's economic plans for Rustic Hills works.
In addition to the economic opportunity zone in southeast Colorado Springs, the city council is also considering making a tax-free zone around the airport to attract more businesses to the under-developed area.