NES pulling together Centennial extension

       A plan is starting to take shape for completion of the Centennial Boulevard extension.
       NES, a private land-planning company, now represents four of the five land owners along the roughly 1 ˝-mile route of the planned four-lane, divided road between Fillmore Street and the Fontanero interchange at I-25. Those four are either developing their properties already or getting ready to do so, according to Tim Seibert of NES. As such, they want to see the road completed soon, and in a non-piecemeal manner, so as to “realize the full value of the land” and to lessen impacts on the nearby Mesa Springs neighborhood. “We're trying to pull this together for everyone,” he said.
       As for the fifth land owner - the city of Colorado Springs (which owns the most southerly quarter-mile but is claiming empty pockets) - NES is proposing that the private owners build that stretch as a minimal, probably two- lane “pioneer road,” just to get it done, then have the city pay them back over time, Seibert said.
       Such a public/private debt arrangement, known as “cost recovery,” has been done in the city before, but would require City Council approval, City Planner James Mayerl said. Although not opposed to the idea, he noted that any such plans are preliminary at this point, and the pioneer road hasn't even been designed. Also to be considered is how long it would take the city to upgrade the “pioneer” segment to the same standards it is requiring of the developers.
       The timing of the road's completion is important to the Mesa Springs neighborhood, which has long voiced concerns about cut-through traffic onto its residential streets in the event Centennial is built only part way. Both Mayerl and Seibert assured the Mesa Springs Community Association at a meeting last month that Centennial will not connect to Mesa Springs' existing streets until it is completed.
       Seibert elaborated in a follow-up interview that the road will in fact temporarily dead-end south of Fillmore at the first entrance to the medical campus being built by Colorado Springs Health Partners (CSHP) property - well north of Mesa Springs.
       The cut-through potential has taken on greater urgency since work started on the road this year as part of two private developments going in along the route between Fillmore and Van Buren streets. These are the 44-acre CSHP project and the 29-acre Indian Hills Village townhome project by developer Steve Arnold between Van Buren Street and Mesa Valley Road. Indian Hills' roughly quarter-mile segment is nearly finished.
       NES represents CSHP and Arnold, as well as Lowell Hare and Ted Waterman, who own 48 acres south of Van Buren Street. Another NES client is Hill Properties, which has some commercial and private open space near the planned four-lane road, but whose development plans do not tie in directly with the extension of Centennial.
       The property owners along the route are responsible for building the segment passing through their respective properties.
       In the last year, Arnold also bought the 11-acre parcel between his Indian Hills Village and the CSHP property. This has made completion of the road more imminent; the previous owner of that property had never returned city phone calls, Seibert recalled.
       NES is working up plans for developing the Hare and Arnold properties, Seibert said, with submittals expected before January.
       One of the complicating factors for the Hare parcel is an old, undocumented landfill on about nine acres. It will become open space because it can't be built on. Also, the zoning on the hilly parcel currently allows 600 units, but that is too high based on what can realistically be built on the somewhat hilly land, Seibert said. Mayerl said 200 is probably more likely.
       The city's only potential monetary source for its share of the Centennial extension cost from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). Centennial is on the project list, budgeted for $11 million, but only as a low-priority item, according to RTA officials.
       When the extension is complete, planners expect it to relieve the Fillmore/I-25 intersection and to eliminate some of the current cut-through traffic along Chestnut Street through Mesa Springs. “It will take some pressure off the neighborhood,” Mayerl said.
       He added that there will be more neighborhood meetings as the extension/development efforts move forward.

Westside Pioneer article