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Mt. Carmel to be 'one-stop center' to help vets' transition

       A “one-stop center” to help the region's military veterans transition back to civilian life is being created inside the former Channel 5 building at 530 Communication Circle, off Moreno Street.

During renovations inside the building at 530 Communication Circle, Bob McLaughlin (right), director of the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence, is joined by Randy Gradishar, former Denver Bronco and part of the center management team, in displaying various renderings of the future campus.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Funded through various grants and private donations, the two-story, 16,000-square-foot Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence plans to open in September.
       Services/programs will include individualized support in finding employment or starting a business, adapting socially and developing/ maintaining spiritual as well as physical health.
       Additionally, on a vacant lot just a few hundred feet away, the Mt. Carmel organizers intend to construct a new urgent care and wellness center, focused on veterans. Plans for the 7,500-square-foot, single-story facility at the corner of Communication Circle and Moreno have been submitted to City Land Use Review. Drawings include a walkway that would connect to the building-renovation property, part of which is directly across Communication Circle from the vacant site.
       “When we're finished, it [the Communications Circle properties] will be a campus, not just buildings,” said Gina Cimino, Mt. Carmel's president. “There are lots of services for veterans in the region now, but with the Center of Excellence we're connecting them, so people can go there and solve all their issues.”
       The campus plan stems from the vision of her parents, Jay and Emily Cimino, long-time area businesspeople and philanthropists.
       Jay is the president and CEO of the Phil Long Family of Dealerships.
       Mt. Carmel got its start in Trinidad, Colorado, where both Jay and Emily grew up. They established a health, wellness and community center/clinic after renovating an old church there about four years ago.
       Pleased with how that effort turned out, the Ciminos developed the idea of establishing a Mt. Carmel in Colorado Springs that would provide needed resources for the area's considerable veteran population. “This area has three military bases, and we will service all of them,” Gina Cimino said.

A mountain view is provided from the deck of a third-floor unit in the just-completed Gabion Apartments on West Monument Street.
Westside Pioneer photo
To lead that effort a year ago, the Ciminos brought in Bob McLaughlin, a retired colonel and former garrison commander of Fort Carson.
       “One-stop center” was a term he used while leading a recent hardhat tour of the Communications Circle building renovation project. “That's been a missing part of the equation,” he said. “There has been no single place for veterans to go.”
       According to plans, a number of the offerings will involve partnering with existing entities, such as the Small Business Development Center, the military bases and the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
       Another partnership will be with the new homeless center in the south downtown area to reach out to veterans who have found themselves on the streets, McLaughlin said.
       The building's outside will also be a focus, though part of a later phase. Including a tribute to all five military services, a “warriors' garden” with landscaped walkways will be laid out in front and wrap around the north side of the building. Depending on fundraising efforts, McLaughlin said he hopes the garden can be in place by next spring.
       Mt. Carmel has been providing a number of its services in a temporary location in northeast Colorado Springs. For more information, call 575-7059.
       In other Westside land development news:
       Penrose-St. Francis hospital proposal
       An application for a hospital complex northeast of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard will go before the City Planning Commission Sept. 17.
       The complex would include a 12-story building and two 6-story buildings and become Penrose-St. Francis' third hospital “campus” in Colorado Springs.
       The 51-acre site, most of it located across Centennial from the Grandview Market Place shopping center, is currently open land.
       One concern is ground stability, for which there is some past history in that area, particularly to the north. Based on studies so far, according to Steve Tuck, the city planner assigned to the proposal, a “likely condition on the concept plan will be to prepare a geologic hazard report when a specific project is proposed in the hospital building zone or in the parking zones located to the north and east of the hospital zone.”
       Gabion Apartments
       After a year of construction, the 20-unit, two-story Gabion Apartments development in the 600 block of West Monument Street opened for occupancy in August.
       “People are moving in,” said builder Eddie Bishop. “We've had a strong response,” with most already leased.
       The units include several modern energy-conscious enhancements, and Bishop is seeking what's known as LEED gold certification for the project from the U.S. Green Building Council.
       Landscaping is being finalized on the nearly 2-acre site, which is set back from the street on a knoll, allowing panoramic views.
       According to Bishop, the Gabion will help meet the need for rental units on the Westside. For more information, call 432-6889.
       Woodspring Suites
       Reservations are being taken for Woodspring, at 3350 N. Chestnut St., which opened in August after about eight months of construction.
       Part of a national chain (woodspring.com), the 124-room facility promotes itself as an “extended stay” hotel, encouraging overnight visitors as well as those who wish to pay by the week.
       The project had been approved by the city last year under the name of Value Place Hotel, but the company has since rebranded as Woodspring, according to construction manager Jerry Proctor.
       The hotel's 45,000-square-foot building is four stories high. The hotel is set near the street, with some parking in front and a large lot in back.

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