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‘True North Commons’ coming to North Gate; public input sought

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jan 14, 2019

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY (USAFA) – A new visitors center is coming, and additional development surrounding it.  Before that can happen, however, Colorado Springs must annex a portion of the USAFA into city limits.

“There is a proposed 183-acre annexation, but that actually includes only 57 acres of developable land,” said Katie Carleo with the city’s planning department.  The city’s Planning & Development Land Use Review Division will host the first in a series of public input opportunities on the annexation Thursday, January 17, 2019 in Council Chambers at Colorado Springs City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Avenue.

The development, to be called True North Commons, will be located west of I-25 surrounding North Gate Boulevard before the entry gate to the USAFA.  According to one of a series of planning documents, True North Commons will include the 37,000-square-foot USAFA Visitors Center, a 250-room 4-star hotel, a 150-room 3-star hotel, a 7,500 square-foot indoor skydiving attraction, 25,000 square feet of retail space, a 3,000-square-foot gas station and convenience store, and a 200,000-square-foot office complex.

The public meetings will provide citizens the opportunity to bring up concerns about the development, some of which already include impacts on nearby Monument Creek from stormwater runoff from the new impervious surfaces, impact to the habitat of the protected Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, increased vehicle traffic on I-25 and North Gate Boulevard, impact on USAFA flight training, and impact on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail, which runs through the area to be developed.  “I would worry that trail access would be disrupted or paved,” said trail user Amy Kintner.

“The Master Plan does identify that the trail will remain, it’s not going anywhere,” Carleo said, “and the developer is actually looking to enhance the trailhead and provide some more parking and other amenities at the trailhead.”

Carleo says the USAFA requested the annexation to facilitate construction of the visitors center, which is required to be built on city-owned land according to terms of the City for Champions project, of which the visitors center is a cornerstone project.