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$53 million needed to renovate City Auditorium in Colorado Springs under proposed plan, soft opening goal is fall of 2024

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:36 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The historic City Auditorium in Colorado Springs could be renovated and back open to the public by fall of 2024 if everything goes according to plan for a nonprofit.

The third and final public input meeting on the future of the building was held Thursday night. The group, Community Cultural Collective, is hoping to renovate, restore and revitalize the space located at 221 E. Kiowa Street in downtown Colorado Springs. The group is a nonprofit organization that was selected by the City to potentially manage, operate and maintain full use of the building.

“The proposed renovation plan includes a multi use rehabilitation of the building exterior and a redesign of the facility, that would expand its useable floor area from 40,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet,” part of a proposal plan on the City’s website reads. “An addition would be built on the south side, and two new floor levels on the inside would replace the current arena seating. The partial basement would include an orchestra pit, a versatile and multi-faceted event/theatre venue, and concession partners. The ground floor would host retail and community partners. The main performance venue would face the preserved proscenium arch and seat about 600 with a flat floor option for up to 730 people.”

The group needs to secure about $53 million by 2023 to make their vision a reality. If construction does move forward, there could be a soft opening in fall of 2024. The nonprofit plans to secure the money through donations, grants, tax credits and other funding sources. The third and final public input meeting can be viewed at the top of this article.

Click here to donate to the Community Cultural Collective.

You can view a Powerpoint of the proposed plan below:

TIMELINE OF THE CITY AUDITORIUM:

1923 – City Auditorium completed after a ballot issue authorizing its construction was approved by Colorado Springs residents. Residents also approved issuance of financing bonds.

1934 – Two murals added, under the Public Works of Art project, one of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs during the Great Depression. Both artists, Archie Musick and Tabor Utley, were associated with the Broadmoor Art Academy (later part of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center).

1993 – Potential conversion to a municipal court building discussed. Strong public opposition to altering the building influenced City Council to authorize construction of the Robert M. Isaac Municipal Court across the street on the site of the old Police Headquarters.

1995 – Placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1999 – City Council passed Resolution 72-99 “Affirming and Determining that the Assets and Enterprises Under the Control and Direction of the City of Colorado Springs Groups are Strategic and Meet the Guidelines for Determining Strategic Assets.” Included in this list was the City Auditorium.

2003 – Administration recommends not accepting a grant of $75,000 from the Colorado Historical Society to refurbish approximately half the seats in the Auditorium, citing the desire to further study the Auditorium’s future.  There was concern regarding 20-year covenant restrictions tied to the grant award. (Resolution No. 206-03)

2004 – The City Attorney’s Office provided a legal opinion regarding sale of the Auditorium. The original ballot question asked whether the City Council could issue bonds for the purpose of erecting the Auditorium and purchasing a site.  Thus, the question submitted to the voters was whether debt should be issued.  The ballot question did not ask authorization to build, own or operate the Auditorium. Therefore, since the debt authorized by the voters has been repaid by the City, the City Council has authorization to sell the Auditorium without a vote of the electorate.

2004 – The Friends of the Historic City Auditorium was formed in response to potential sale of the facility.

2006 – The City Auditorium Block Urban Renewal Plan was approved.

2006 – Compass Facility Management Inc. was engaged to study the historic nature of the building; develop potential marketing and operating options; and prepare an extensive cost estimate for major facility repairs, renovations and upgrades to be funded by the City and Downtown Partnership. The study suggests $15 million is needed to address needs and upgrade the facility.

2007 – The consulting firms of Robert B. Sharp Company and Brian Wishneff and Associates researched private sector fundraising opportunities along with the use of various tax credit programs in an effort to assemble cash resources for Auditorium improvements.

2007 – 2007-2011 CIP/Needs Assessment called out Auditorium renovations totaling $1.8 million as unfunded high priority CIP projects (in the top 10 list).

2008 – City Council reviewed 2006 and 2007 reports on the facility and funding, including a specific feasibility study for a $5 million capital campaign through contributed funds and the use of tax credits.

2012 – A Request for Proposal (RFP) for management services for the Auditorium was released (R12-092 LJ).  No proposal met the requirements of the RFP, so no award was made.

2018 – An RFP regarding the operation and management of the Auditorium is released (R18-155 NS Operation and Management of the Auditorium).

2019 – A request for Best and Final Offer is provided to three RFP respondents for operation and management of the Auditorium. The Colorado Springs Cultural Community Collective at City Auditorium (CSCCC) is selected, and negotiations begin.

2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic puts a hold on negotiations. The Auditorium is used as a Homeless Isolation Shelter through May 2021.

2021 – Negotiations restart with CSCCC and result in a Memorandum of Understanding with a six-month Due Diligence period commencing Sept. 6, 2021 to determine the viability of CSCCC’s proposed renovation and operation with an estimated construction budget of $53 million.

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