Kum & Go gives up on Old Colorado City plan

       Kum & Go has canceled its plans to purchase property for a convenience store and gas station in Old Colorado City.

Opponents of a Kum & Go in Old Colorado City protested by marching July 29 outside Goodwill-owned facilities in the 2300 block of West Colorado Avenue. Kum & Go had planned to demolish the south-block buildings for a convenience store and gas station.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The Iowa-based chain, which already has 10 stores in Colorado Springs, had signed a contract earlier this year to buy a roughly 2-acre parcel from Discover Goodwill on the south side of West Colorado Avenue's 2300 block. The cancellation ends Kum & Go's announced plans to demolish the existing Goodwill buildings and build a 5,000-square-foot store with 10 gas pumps, facing onto Colorado Avenue.
       According to a Sept. 4 press release from Kum & Go, the decision was made “in order to give the city and Goodwill an opportunity to find a buyer who is a better fit for preserving and enhancing Old Colorado City's historic atmosphere.”
       Kum & Go is continuing its previously announced plans to build facilities of the same size on the Westside at 21st and Broadway streets and at the new intersection of Fillmore and Chestnut streets, company spokes-person Traci Rodemeyer said.
       Although never formally submitted to the city, the Old Colorado City store/station proposal had received a cool and even hostile response from most Westsiders, based on concerns that its size and type of business would detract from the historic district less than a block away, as well as from the neighborhood to the south. Citizens offered a range of critical comments at two meetings, a petition drive against the plan attracted more than 1,300 signers, two Westside boards voted against it, and public protests were held in Old Colorado City and outside a downtown City Council meeting.
       Asked if the negative feedback had contributed to Kum & Go's changing its mind about the site's viability, Rodemeyer responded: “We made this business decision to terminate the contract based on several factors that are taken into account during the due diligence stage of any property. We appreciate the input that we received from the community leaders and neighbors on this project, and we hope that a suitable buyer can be found quickly for this property.”
       Sue Spengler, who lives near the 2300 block and had led the protest effort, was contacted the morning of Sept. 4, shortly after the Kum & Go decision became generally known. “I'm crying with happiness,” she enthused. “My children and I are jumping around the kitchen.” She credited a “whole bunch of people who agreed with us and did their part. There were thousands of e-mails and letters.”
       As for Kum & Go not directly tying the protest effort to its decision, “I can see them not giving us credit,” Spengler said. “But we all know.”
       In a press release of its own, Goodwill expressed no acrimony at Kum & Go's decision. “Discover Good-will respects Kum & Go's right and reasoning for withdrawing their offer, and wishes them all the best in the future,” reads the statement by spokesperson Bradd Hafer. “The sale and/or use of our Westside property remains an important factor in accomplishing our mission. Taking into account everything that has transpired since placing this property on the market in 2011, Discover Goodwill will be carefully evaluating all options and alternatives for its future use.”
       Kum & Go's decision could open the door for one or more alternate proposals. One plan for the 2300 block's south side, offered by local investors (and reported in the Aug. 15 Westside Pioneer), suggests keeping some of the existing structure and redeveloping the space for a plaza, restaurant, art gallery and other businesses.
       Goodwill had operated on about 3½ acres spanning both sides of the 2300 block for about half a century before announcing plans in 2011 to relocate and sell all that property except the retail store. Until early this year, the Westside Pioneer has learned, Goodwill's real-estate strategy had been to market both sides as a package, but when Kum & Go came forward with an unsolicited offer for the south side only, Goodwill accepted. Goodwill has since agreed to a separate contract for the north side with Junior Achievement.
       The nonprofit's urgency to sell its 2300-block holdings, Hafer has previously explained, is triggered by a need for about $2.3 million to build a new facility off South Academy Boulevard. One of its functions would be to take over the donation-processing/storage now occurring on the south side of the 2300 block.
       The two Westside boards that had voted against Kum & Go's Old Colorado City plan were those of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) and the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District.
       Spokespersons for both expressed relief Sept. 4 after hearing about the Kum & Go decision. OWN President Welling Clark elaborated that opponents now need to “change our course of action and fix it [the 2300 block] the way we want it. We need to help Goodwill exit the property gracefully and to find a buyer that will create a gateway project leading into Old Colorado City.”

Westside Pioneer article