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Car wash crush: Why so many in Colorado Springs, and are there too many?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- UPDATE: Neighbors opposing a proposed new car wash at the eastern city limits lost their appeal to the City Council.

In a 5-3 vote Tuesday, the Council upheld an earlier approval by the city's Planning Commission, for a car wash at the intersection of Peterson Road and Pony Tracks Drive.

Opponents complained that the car wash will make too much noise, create more traffic, and is out of place near an adjacent neighborhood.


While many businesses have struggled and even closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, one profession that seems to be thriving is the car wash.


In the past few years, several new car washes have opened at the site of former restaurants, with more on the way -- creating jobs, repurposing vacant buildings and generating additional tax revenue for the city.

It seems that the city already has plenty of them; so why do they keep coming? And are there too many?


City resident Luis Cisneros answers the latter question.

"Yes, we have too many and it's getting worse.," he said. "I can drive five miles and hit four to five car washes. And they're all different companies. So yes, there is a problem in Colorado Springs."


On Wednesday, Cisneros was at the city Planning Commission to oppose a request from a Denver car wash owner to expand into Colorado Springs.

Dennis Dreeszen founded Autowash ten years ago and watched his company grow into 24 car washes in the metro Denver.


His plan to open at least six in Colorado Springs passed its first step Wednesday when, after some discussion pro and con among commissioners, his request to build a car wash -- with a dog wash included -- at the intersection of Peterson Road and Pony Tracks Drive on the city's east side was approved.

City of Colorado Springs

Dreeszen said that his brand of brushless car washes stands out from his competitors, and is unique for blending in with neighborhoods instead of building them on major streets and roads.

Yet some commissioners expressed concern that the car wash will still be too noisy and attract too much traffic -- even though he insisted that wouldn't be the case, and agreed to open an hour later and close an hour earlier than he wanted.


Dreeszen was surprised at the opposition because the car wash would be next to a convenience store and gas station.

Cizneros is one of the neighbors.

"It's too close to the neighborhood," he said. "I'm worried about noise, the hours, the kinds of people it attracts. There is an issue already with the 24-hour gas station that's there -- noise complaints, traffic complaints."


Commissioner Scott Hente said that he doesn't believe the city has too many car washes.

"I'm not sure that governments should be in the business of telling businesses, how many they can have," he said. "Are we going to limit the number of McDonald's we can have, Or King Soopers? That's a business decision that they make."

Hente added that water usage is always a consideration when considering new car washes.

"Whether we look at large developments or an individual business, do we have the water to support them?" he said. "That's always hanging out there. But I think the businesses are trying to be more and more prudent in how they recycle the water and how they use the water."

Now, to the question of why so many car washes are opening up in the city; Dreeszen can speak only for himself.


"It's consumer demand," he explained. "We had a lot of customers in Denver who have moved to Colorado Springs and would love to see us down here. We're in touch with a lot of the car communities around town, and we've been getting asked to come to the Springs."

Speaking more generally, Dreeszen said that even with all of the car washes currently operating in town, they can wash only a small percentage of vehicles in the city because of continued growth and so many people owning cars.


"Unless more people get rid of their vehicles, there will always be a need for car washes," he said.

Like them or hate them, it's hard to argue with the benefits car washes offer -- filling empty lots, repurposing vacant buildings, creating jobs ad generating additional tax revenue.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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