Building in Downtown is different than any other part of Colorado Springs. Historic structures, aging infrastructure, pedestrian orientation, unique architectural and site constraints, parking considerations and more are key elements. Following are common influencing factors that should be considered during due diligence.
Form Based Zone
The Downtown Form Based Code is different from traditional commercial zoning in other parts of the city. While this zoning ultimately leads to greater flexibility on the use of the property, it does have specific constraints that must be considered. Some of these constraints include: two-story minimum height standards for portions of Downtown; prohibition of commercial surface parking lots unless accessory to the primary use; build to lines ranging from 0 feet to 15 feet, and minimum 25 up to 60 percent glazing requirements. These requirements help Downtown achieve a desired look and feel and pedestrian orientation while giving the developer predictability on design. Though the Form Based Code has some constraints, overall it is quite permissive and predictable. Those who design to the code easily can achieve administrative approval in a short period of time. Some of the unique attributes of the code include no specific parking requirements or height limitation in the Central Sector so that development can be market driven, and overall use neutrality with the exception of a few specific uses requiring conditional use approval.
Contact: Ryan Tefertiller, Urban Planning Manager, City of Colorado Springs,
As with most downtowns, Downtown Colorado Springs is the oldest part of the city, which can pose challenges with aging infrastructure, site constraints with existing streets, sidewalks, streetscape enhancements, and mature landscaping. Although the existing infrastructure requires extra planning, it can benefit a project with some cost savings when existing infrastructure can be maintained and utilized. Colorado Springs Utilities is a community-owned, four-service utility, and independently can enter into economic development agreements to offset some of the challenges associated with developing in the city center.
Contact: Cindy Newsome, Manager, Office of Economic Development,
Park and School Fees for Residential Projects
The City of Colorado Springs, valuing the community assets in our city parks and schools, charges a development fee in lieu of land dedication for residential projects that is later used for the acquisition of land for these assets. Often, urban projects are not positioned to meet the land dedication requirements and are therefore required to pay the fee in lieu of land dedication. These fees have been collected since 1973, and are occasionally adjusted. The latest rate can be found here.
Street Cut Moratoriums
In 2015, city voters passed a measure to accelerate road repaving efforts, known as 2C. The sales tax has been and continues to be used to repave streets with aging pavement. Many blocks within Downtown have been, or are scheduled to be, repaved under 2C. As part of 2C’s effort to most efficiently use taxpayer dollars, the city has implemented a five-year, non-emergency utility street-cut moratorium that applies to Colorado Springs Utilities as well as the private sector after a road has been repaved. Where street cuts are required for development purposes, a fee structure is in place to make proper future repairs to the fresh pavement. This allows our street pavement to have the longest possible life cycle and for any needed cuts to be properly accounted for.
Contact: Corey Farkas, Public Works Operations & Maintenance Division Manager, City of Colorado Springs,
Stormwater requirements are determined based on disturbance of a site’s acreage, which is often beneficial for smaller urban projects or existing buildings. For larger developments, those over an acre, detention and treatment are required through a storm water permit and should be considered.
Contact: Steve Rossoll, City of Colorado Springs Stormwater Management,
Fire Safety and Preservation of Unique Architectural Detail/DIY spaces
Downtown is home to a density of historic and locally significant buildings that the community desires to preserve to maintain character in the Downtown core. Preservation and adaptive reuse is highly valued, but often can come at a great cost and time burden to conform buildings to today’s codes. This is the reason for programs like RESTART offered through the Colorado Springs Fire Department, and pre-submittal consulting through the planning and building departments. While adaptive reuse can be challenging, there is great reward in preserving the character of these spaces.
Contact: Steve Smith, Division of the Fire Marshal,
The zoning code permits for a wide range of projections that encroach or approach the right of way, and through the Form Base Code encourages these approaches as urban in nature. However, the current 2009 building code prohibits projections over the property line without a variance from Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
In the zoning code, encroachments receive a simple “revocable permit,” often known in other communities as an encroachment permit. These permits are issued for any type of right of way encroachment; sidewalk patios to roof overhangs, foundation piers and balconies. On constrained urban and infill sites, many desirable development forms trigger the need for such encroachments. While encroachment permits are standard in most communities, the name “revocable” can cause sometimes cause concern.
In addition to obtaining a revocable permit for any right of way encroachment, developers also are required to obtain a variance from the building department under the 2009 IBC for some types of balcony overhangs.
Jay Eenhuis, Deputy Building Director, Plan Review,
Matthew Fitzsimmons, Revocable Permits,
If you have experienced issues or challenges with a development or tenant improvement project in Downtown Colorado Springs different from what is presented on this page, please contact us so that we can keep track of areas where we need to improve, and so that we can work to improve the situation if it is a present issue.