COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A new report from the Downtown Partnership shows Downtown Colorado Springs has seen tremendous economic growth with help from an increase in population, additional housing built, and more businesses opening.
Local businesses downtown said they've also seen a noticeable shift in culture downtown. Moving from a department store feel to smaller, locally owned restaurants, bars, and little shops. Business owners said it's created a welcoming environment for more people to move there.
The new report shows 2,000 housing units are planning to open in the next two years in Downtown Colorado Springs. That's expected to bring in more local foot traffic.
"Definitely lots of foot traffic especially on those nice weather days," The Perk Assistant General Manager Kaylin Evans said. "We always see big groups of friends and families, lots of new faces in here. I see lots of people that are like hey I just moved here and have lots of fun conversations about everyone migrating to Colorado Springs from all over the U.S."
"It's great that so many people are living downtown now," Poor Richards Co-Owner Richard Skorman said. "Those are the people you appreciate because they're regulars."
Downtown also saw 25 new dining and retail establishments open for business in 2022. Revenues from downtown restaurants and bars are up 92% over pandemic-era lows, and up by almost 25% over 2019's pre-pandemic performance. Grossing just shy of $119 million in sales in 2022.
"In the summertime, we are just packed and even this winter," Evans explained. "Usually winter is a slow season for us but we have been really consistent, lots more than we've had in the past."
According to the Downtown Partnership, in 2022 there were 12 million visitors downtown, which is the same amount they saw pre-COVID in 2019.
"It's getting much better, a lot more people downtown and coming into the stores," Skorman said. "They built that play area at acacia park so it's become more kid-friendly downtown. But also more young people moving from Denver or the north front range. I think they can afford to live here and enjoy the outdoor life in ways they can't up there."
Skorman opened Poor Richards 45 years ago. He says downtown has changed significantly.
"Colorado Springs downtown has changed significantly since I first came here in 1975," Skorman said. "It was a place where we had a couple big department stores, lunch counters, then it became a ghost land. Now it's coming back in ways it was before but in small shops, and that's what's great about downtown Colorado springs. 90% of the businesses are owned by small business owners so it's a different feel."
To view the State of Downtown report, visit the Downtown Colorado Springs website.