The New South End: Is Colorado Springs actually becoming ‘cool?’ | Vince Bzdek

The delightfully motley, post-industrial zone to the south of downtown — let’s go there and call it NuSo — is definitely in the act of ripening into something. Where it will end up is TBD, and a grand part of its appeal right now is that it’s a work in progress, full of possibility.

“We’re the new kids of downtown,” said developer Darsey Nicklasson, who brought Blue Dot Place apartments to New South End. “It’s the up-and-coming neighborhood. We have the most room for growth down here. We’ve got some historic buildings and then we’ve got buildings that don’t necessarily have a lot of architectural or history attached to them.”

+7 Caption + Show MoreShow Less Construction of the Olympic Museum continues Friday south of downtown Colorado Springs. The museum is scheduled to open to the public in 2020.

The whirling Mixmaster of abandoned warehouses, hip new restaurants, specialty shops, surface lots, Victorian homes and cheaper prices make it kind of gritty and unpredictable, a counterpoint to the staid old city center just a few blocks north. Add in a 10,000-seat soccer stadium and Olympic Museum, tear down the power plant, and you’ve got all sorts of possibilities, a blank gray slate to create a new urban cityscape right in the heart of town.

I love the juxtapositions: It’s got a tiny purple castle (King’s Chef Diner) and a diaper biz called Baby Cotton Bottoms. There’s a Salvation Army shelter not far from a new 184-unit upscale apartment building going up at Cascade and Rio Grande. There’s still an engine supply machine shop across the street from uber-trendy Loyal Coffee; a defunct lumber yard across the street from the emerging Olympic Museum. There’s both the Perfect Peace Baptist Church and FN Jeep, which looks like a La Brea Tar Pit of Jeep fossils and engine parts. Weirdly, there are seven law firms but only two art galleries.

+7 Caption + Show MoreShow Less King’s Chef Diner, 110 E. Costilla…by Kevin Kreck
Plusses, minuses of mishmash

Edmondson, for one, would like to see some improved pedestrian areas for neighborhood walkability, so the different parts of New South End feel more connected to each other. And she hopes to see lots more people living down there — that’s when Denver’s LoDo really started to take off, when it became a neighborhood, not just a commercial district, and people who lived there began to see it as their personal art and architecture project.

I recently visited Old Town and was struck by how many families were downtown on a weekend night, milling about the Exchange, an open-air plaza and entertainment district bordered by quirky shops made from shipping containers. You could buy a beer at one venue, and stroll around with it to the giant ice cream churn nearby, or over to the outdoor dance floor with live band, and then go play some putt-putt at an indoor golf course. Fort Collins also had a thing going on called Hidden Spaces that filled its downtown alleys with works of art, artisan booths, electric murals and more live musicians.

+7 Caption + Show MoreShow Less The new Casa Mundi Lofts begin to take shape on Tejon Street in south downtown Colorado Springs Friday, June 21, 2019. The building will house 27 apartments on floors two through four with retail space on the first floor. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
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