Colorado Springs office park heading in a new direction, housing may be added

Patriot Park, a Colorado Springs office park that’s home to defense contractors, accounting firms and other businesses, is heading in a new direction.

Owners of vacant land that makes up the lion’s share of Patriot Park plan a 260-unit apartment complex and 125 homes on their property northwest of Powers Boulevard and Platte Avenue on the city’s east side.

The introduction of housing would mark a major shift for Patriot Park, yet one that’s in keeping with the times, said Kevin Butcher, vice president of CameronButcher Commercial Real Estate in Colorado Springs, who represents the project’s owners.

Patriot Park long has been envisioned as a home for major employers, some of whom wanted to be near the Colorado Springs Airport and Peterson Air Force Base on the southeast side and Schriever Air Force Base in unincorporated El Paso County.

But outlying office parks are undergoing an infusion of residential, retail, lodging and other uses to accommodate the changing needs and desires of employers, workers and even government planners, Butcher said.

Many people no longer want to commute long distances to suburban office parks, he said. Housing and other mixed uses will help create a live-work-play environment, where apartment dwellers and homeowners can go to their jobs at Patriot Park or on the city’s east and southeast sides, he said.

At the same time, Butcher said, Colorado Springs officials want more mixed-use projects as part of their comprehensive plan.

"People are tired of being stuck in traffic jams," he said. "The old, green suburban, sprawling office park where everybody rolls in and then they drive home for an hour to get back to the suburbs – that’s a thing of the past."

Butcher manages two of three limited liability companies listed in county land records as owners of about 65 acres of the nearly 90-acre Patriot Park. He declined to identify the owners or whether he’s one of them, other than to say they’re primarily local investors.

The apartments and homes would be built on 23 acres north of an office building, roughly in the center of the Patriot Park property. Another 19 acres immediately to the west and along Sand Creek would be set aside as open space.

The landowners are working with a third party that would develop the apartment complex, Butcher said, with high-quality units that would rent at market rates – currently more than $1,100 a month on average.

The complex would offer one-, two- and three-bedroom units; amenities would include a clubhouse, pool, fitness center, garages and a dog park, according to documents submitted to city planners.

The 125 homes would be north of the apartment complex; they’re expected to be entry-level and move-up homes with one- or two-car garages for buyers who want to be close to employers, stores and other eastside attractions."They are designed to be affordable homes for working people," Butcher said. "It’s new stuff in the southeast quadrant. There’s definitely a need. The employees down there would love to see it."

The landowners represented by Butcher also are eying additional uses – such as a hotel, restaurants and more offices – on 20 more acres they own east of the apartment and homes site, fronting Powers Boulevard, he said.

Patriot Park has five office buildings that cover about 15 acres. Two buildings were erected in the 1980s before the area was branded Patriot Park.

In the 2000s, a large Maryland real estate company came to the Springs, bought Patriot Park and constructed three more buildings on its south side. The Maryland company had plans for as many as 10 buildings there. The company, however, eventually sold its Springs holdings after the Great Recession, and a Pennsylvania company bought the buildings in Patriot Park and other areas of the city for $116 million.

The undeveloped land was purchased by Butcher’s group for $2 million in October 2016, land records show.

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