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Out with the old, in with ... ?


Last updated 4/13/2020 at 11:20am

Karin Hill

On Monday, crews cleaned up the huge piles of debris left after the former Fountain Valley Shopping Center was demolished. The strip mall on Hwy. 85/87 had been vacant for at least a year, surrounded by chain-link fence.

The old Fountain Valley Shopping Center, which previously was home to Valley Bowl and a strip mall filled with businesses, has been demolished. The demo work that began late last week took the buildings down quickly, but crews continue to clean up the rubble that remains.

Located along Hwy. 85/87, just west of Main Street in Security, and flanked to the south by Southmoor Drive and Albertacos restaurant, the aging center formerly housed businesses such as Alpenrose German Deli, Independent Records, Valley Espresso and others that have recently relocated to nearby shops.

Longtime local residents have been reminiscing about numerous "mom and pop" shops they used to frequent, such as Rocket Inn, Yellow Front, Bombadier, Lou Rose's and many others.

For the last year, the site has been surrounded by chain-link fence while crews dealt with asbestos abatement. The lengthy process required a green light from the state before demolition could proceed.

Locals have mixed emotions about the demolition. For some, it's bittersweet because they have fond memories of the old businesses, but most agree the site had become an eyesore, and are glad to see signs of new life.

"Besides the bowling alley, which I have great memories with my Pops, it was long overdue," Kenny Reynolds said.

Carol Mccarty-Barrett reminisced about going to Valley Bowl with her grandfather and mother.

"I remember going into the nursery while my mom bowled," she said. "We had to line up to get one Ritz cracker as a snack."

Some say they are hoping for a new grocery store or a recreational facility – even another bowling alley.

"There is nothing for kids down here to do," Barbara Meiris lamented.

Commercial developers plan to construct roughly 97,000 square feet of retail building space on separate pads over three phases, while a separate housing development of 200-plus single-family homes is expected on the rear. The commercial site, known as Riverbend Crossing, lies within Fountain's city boundaries; the residential area is in El Paso County.

According to previous proposals submitted by the housing developer, the residential portion could look like 225 single-family homes equaling a proposed density of 4.33 dwelling units per acre. The development will consist of one- and two-story detached homes and approximately 14 acres of open space/common areas providing public and private recreational opportunities.

The homes would be serviced by Security Water and Sanitation District for water and sewer; Colorado Springs Utilities for gas and electric; CenturyLink for phone; Security Fire Protection; El Paso County Sheriff's Office; and Widefield School District 3.

No timeline for the new construction has been provided yet, but the commercial and residential portions likely will occur simultaneously, albeit by different contractors.

"I do not have a definitive timeline for construction, as they are working to finalize the subdivision documents," Fountain City Planner Kristy Martinez said. "But the demolition of the buildings is certainly moving towards redevelopment."

She did note that Main Street, which currently ends along Hwy. 85/87 on the east side of the shopping center, will be continued to the west into the residential area.

While rumors about possible stores have been circulating for some time, names of any specific potential occupants are not available yet.

"We have no tenant intel at this time to share from the development," Fountain Economic Development Manager Kimberly Bailey said. "There are LOIs (letters of interest) in effect with the developer but are confidential at this juncture."

Bailey said the former strip mall was built in the 1970s and, although a great product at the time, had outlived its useful life and no longer complied with current code requirements. Tenancy was dwindling to as low as 40 percent vacancy at times.

The entire new development is managed by the Riverbend Crossing Business Improvement District.


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