Last hurdles cleared for new KFC/A&W at 31st

       With recent plan approval from Colorado Springs Planning, construction of an upgraded Kentucky Fried Chicken/A&W at 31st Street and Colorado Avenue is expected to start this winter.
       The final design - including a partial-brick exterior and a smaller-than-originally-proposed sign near the intersection - reflects an effort to “soften” the impact of the 3,600-square-foot restaurant in response to neighborhood wishes, according to Steve Brown of Near Design & Planning, which created the plan for the KFC owners, Harman Management Corp.
       Harman/KFC mid-level executives had agreed to these requests in principle at an Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) neighborhood meeting last March, but at the same time they pointed out the changes would increase costs by thousands of dollars that they weren't sure corporate heads wanted to spend.
       But in the end corporate agreement was obtained. Harman officials like the site and have the project “on a pretty high burner right now,” Brown said in a recent interview.
       Harman had already agreed to give up slices of land at the north and south ends of its property as part of the project. The north slice, about 7 feet wide, will allow Colorado Avenue to be widened west of the 31st Street intersection (for about 100 feet) to allow a full right-turn lane for eastbound drivers. The south slice will be a 60-foot easement north of Fountain Creek that will augment the city's planned trail right-of-way south of the creek.
       Key to KFC's final agreement was the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) deciding not to make KFC relocate a light pole at the intersection as part of its right-turn requirement. KFC had resisted the relocation because of potential costs that reportedly could have run into six figures.
       In his letter granting city administrative approval for the KFC project, James Mayerl, the lead Westside city planner, praised Harman's willingness to work with the neighbors on architectural nuances. Mayerl added in an interview his hope that such give- and-take can occur on future Westside projects. “We sometimes get very stubborn individuals who do not want to change or compromise,” he said, referring to developers.“In this case we had a corporation that was willing to move or modify their plans and a neighborhood that was not asking for the world, so to speak.”
       The neighborhood effort was led by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), the volunteer Westside advocacy group. “I would hope that future developers or property owners would also work with OWN (and vice versa),” Mayerl added. “It (the KFC project) could be used as an example for future developments.”
       The next step for Brown's firm, which contracts with Harman for numerous KFC projects in Colorado, is to prepare construction drawings. The goal is to secure a building permit “by Christmas or the first of the year,” Brown said.
       The brick effect will appear on the building's front façade as well as the front parts of both sides, with additional brick wainscoating, Brown said. Even before this element was added, Brown thinks the design was going to be easier on the eyes than the existing structure, whose exact construction date is not known (but was sometime in the 1960s or 1970s). There also will be extensive landscaping, including trees and water-efficient plantings, and a sidewalk along 31st Street (there is none now) to the end of the KFC property, Brown said.
       KFC had initially proposed two freestanding signs, each 40 feet high, one at the front of the property and one at the rear. These signs would have been within code on the 1.35-acre site, but they would have been the largest signs on that part of the avenue, other than Long's. The new freestanding-sign plan calls for just one 40-footer, at the rear of the property, facing Highway 24. At the front will be what's known as a “monument sign,” about 6 to 8 feet high on the ground in front of the restaurant.
       KFC executives have estimated that an upgraded store at the site, with the A&W attraction, could boost sales by $500,000 a year, nearly tripling employment from the current 12 employees.

Westside Pioneer article