Urban renewal plan foreseen at introductory meeting on Manitou’s ‘East Corridor’ survey

       The possibility of an eventual urban renewal project was discussed openly at an introductory meeting April 10 on what's formally being called the “East Manitou Springs Corridor Condition Survey.”
       Consultant Anne Ricker, who is subcontracting with Nolte Associates Inc. for the field work on the study, handed out a “Frequently Asked Questions” document to property/business owners at the meeting, explaining how a “condition survey (blight survey)” can lead to an urban renewal effort.
       But she told the attendees not to be alarmed, that no condemnations are envisioned and that being in an urban renewal area typically leads to properties becoming more desirable. For now, “what I'm looking at in the study is all the things that need to be fixed,” Ricker explained. As for the word “blight,” she confided, “I hate that word,” but pointed out that a finding of blight (as detailed in state law) is necessary to qualify for urban renewal status.
       Nicknamed "No Man's Land" because of years of public neglect and relatively low-key private investment, the area being surveyed encompasses properties and businesses on and near Manitou/Colorado Avenue between Manitou's Highway 24 interchange and 33rd Street. Manitou's eastern city limit is near Columbia Road; between there and 33rd, the boundary lines are a hodge-podge of either Colorado Springs or the county.
       About 50 people attended the meeting in Manitou Springs City Hall.
       Ricker also noted that the Manitou Springs City Council, which implemented the effort through a grant from the state, can only establish an urban renewal authority in the Manitou portion of the survey area. However, she added, “partnership” opportunities exist with neighboring Colorado Springs and El Paso County, and technical meetings with their staff are ongoing.
       Postcard meeting notifications were mailed to 98 businesses and/or properties in the area, Michael Hussey, the project manager for Nolte, said at the meeting. This was an update of the number (82) which he had stated in a phone interview the previous week. The reason, he explained, was that a late decision had been made to include properties south of the avenue and east of Ridge Road.
       The study area could expand or contract again, depending on how the study goes, Ricker said.
       Ricker and Hussey explained to the attendees that the first part of the study will be to gather information, leading up to another meeting at the end of May, to which all the affected property owners/ businesses will again be invited. Following that will be the second part of the study, which will focus on “an urban renewal plan,” Hussey said.
       According to the Frequently Asked Ques-tions document, the financial appeal of such a plan would be qualifying for tax increment financing, which allows an authority “to use the net new tax revenues generated by projects within a designated urban renewal area to help finance future improvements.”

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