A portion of the former Gazette property on downtown’s east edge will become home to the Colorado Springs Public Market – a long-envisioned, year-round venue and gathering place for local food growers and producers, other related businesses, consumers and tourists.
The board of the nonprofit Colorado Springs Public Market and Springs real estate company Nor’wood Development Group announced a partnership Friday that would lead to a planned community gathering place for local food growers and producers, consumers and others at the former site of The Gazette at 30 S. Prospect St. While not finalized, the plan includes:
– A long-term lease of a portion of the old Gazette site for a public market. The goal, Nor’wood President Chris Jenkins said, is to structure a deal that focuses on the market’s success.
– The market would occupy about one-fourth of the old Gazette property’s west side, where a loading dock was used for decades to drop off newsprint and other supplies. That portion of the property would link the market to Shooks Run Creek, Jenkins said. It also easily could be reached by cyclists and pedestrians, said David Anderson, the Public Market’s board president.
– Improvements to the property might include a new building facade and windows, additional entrances and interior upgrades, Jenkins said. Nor’wood is talking with potential users for the property’s east side, where the newsroom and advertising departments operated; Jenkins declined to identify them.
– The nonprofit Public Market board doesn’t have much money, but has been careful not to seek financing until it firmed up its plans, Anderson said. "We’ll announce what we have in hand when we actually have it committed," he said of financial backing. Anderson stressed, "We’re going to do this by early next year. We’ll have the capability to do this."
The nonprofit Public Market groupthat’s worked for several years to develop the project, and Nor’wood Development Group, one of the city’s largest real estate companies, announced a partnership Friday that they say will lead to the market’s creation at the old Gazette site, 30 S. Prospect St.
Locating the market at the former newspaper property is just the start of what could be a major redevelopment project in the area.
The Gazette moved out of its longtime offices in December, and a Nor’wood-controlled entity paid $1.78 million for 6.7 acres and four buildings at the old newspaper site – an acquisition Nor’wood President Chris Jenkins hadn’t formally acknowledged until Friday. In February, a Nor’wood limited liability company paid $50,000 for the nearly 9-acre St. Francis Hospital property directly across Prospect, which included several buildings and a parking lot.
Together, the properties could be cornerstones in what Nor’wood calls a larger vision to transform the area into a "thriving, adaptively re-used, mixed-use development" by the company and "other community partners."
Jenkins said he’s not ready to talk about the St. Francis property. Yet, tying it to the public market "is important for that whole eastern edge of downtown as it gets redeveloped," he said.
For now, the focus is on the market.
Dave Anderson, the market’s board president, said the group has reached a conceptual agreement with Nor’wood that both sides expect will lead to the market’s long-term use of the former Gazette property.
The market might enter into something akin to a long-term lease – possibly 20 to 40 years with renewal opportunities, Anderson said. That also might allow construction of market-owned structures. Details of a long-term deal with Nor’wood haven’t been finalized, and could be weeks or months away, Anderson said. But the lack of a deal now is by design, he said; proponents want public input and community discussion to help shape the market’s ultimate design and uses.
"There is truly no more important, more worthwhile economic development effort than a food shift, which involves substitution of locally made products for that which is trucked in from elsewhere," he said. "It’s not about a building. It’s really about developing our community and developing our local economy."