Friday, May 11, 2007

Promoting tourism is this hero's task

Captain Attractions made his heroic debut this morning at an event at Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak. The event marked the start of See America Week. Michele Carvell of Pikes Peak Country Attractions introduced Captain Attractions, hailed as “the buster of boredom, the blaster of the summertime blues and an all-around great guy.” The black-masked Captain Attractions, wearing a padded blue uniform that gives him some help in the muscle department, will show up here and there over the summer. He’ll be providing free passes to attractions to folks who declare their love for having fun in their own backyard - that is, the Pikes Peak region.

McAfee home a good buy for the money, if not the location

Woodland Park and Teller County are beautiful areas. But they're not The Broadmoor -- neighborhoods near the internationally known, five-star hotel in southwest Colorado Springs. So, the sale of software magnate John McAfee’s mountain estate (right) near Woodland Park generated mixed comments from a trio of veteran Colorado Springs real estate agents who handle their share of high-end properties. Chicago commodities trader Patrick Wu paid $5.72 million at auction May 10 for McAfee's 10,000-square-foot main house, three guest houses, nine cabins and 280 acres.

But real estate still is about location, location, location. Many Broadmoor-area properties fetch higher per-square-foot prices for land and homes because of their proximity to the hotel, said Stuart Scott of Stuart Scott Ltd. "Woodland Park is Woodland Park, and the Broadmoor is the most expensive area in this part of the country,” Scott said. “There’s no comparison.” Trish Ingels of Gloriod & Associates questioned whether McAfee would have gotten $5 million if he attempted a straight sale. For somebody from Chicago, however, the $5.72 million price probably was a steal, she said. Kevin Patterson of The Patterson Group said McAfee’s property has great value. A summer retreat would be nice, but if Wu sold portions of the 280 acres for future development, he should make out fine, Patterson said. “Even if it’s only 35-acre tracts, he’ll do well,” Patterson said. “If he could go smaller, he’ll do very well.”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Contractor gets Fort Carson work

Torix General Contractors of Colorado Springs has been awarded a $19.9 million contract for the construction of a special operations forces battalion support complex, company operations facility and other facilities on Fort Carson. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2009.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Schlage Lock owner has admirer

Warren Buffett likes something about Ingersoll Rand Co. Ltd. The investing guru's Berkshire Hathaway has bought 636,600 shares since Jan. 1. Buffett may like foreign prospects for the company, which employees a few hundred at its Schlage Lock operations in southern El Paso County. The company "wants to derive a higher percentage of its revenue from overseas," according to Reuters, which noted sales in the latest quarter rose 23 percent in Europe. So far it's another wise investment by Buffett, with IR stock up about 5 percent this year and the company saying it expects earnings to be more than 20 cents higher in its next earnings report.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Marking See America Week

Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak is celebrating See America Week, starting Saturday, with several events at the Visitor Information Center, 515 S. Cascade Ave. All events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:

May 12, Attractions Day: Area attractions represented. Plus a karaoke contest where participants will try their hand - and voices - at “America the Beautiful.”

May 13, Patriot Day: Free passports, guides and maps for active military.

May 14, Arts & Culture Day: Fine Arts Center personnel will welcome people. Conference room will become an art gallery displaying Elk Coloring Contest entries.

May 15: Heritage & History Day: Winfield Scott Stratton, Teddy Roosevelt and other costumed characters. Indian dancers from the Cliff Dwellings will perform at 10:30 a.m.

May 16, Adventure Day: Staff from Columbine Fly Fishers, Anglers Covey and Criterium Bikes.

May 17, Special Events Day: Representatives from Territory Days, Old Colorado City, the rodeo and the Colorado Balloon Classic.

May 18, Wildlife Day: Birthday party for the Experience Colorado Springs elk.

Ex-Gazette publisher in the spotlight

Former Gazette publisher N. Christian Anderson III, active in the Colorado Springs business community when he headed the newspaper from mid-1994 through 1998, is receiving the red-carpet treatment from journalism industry publication Editor & Publisher. Anderson, currently the publisher and chief executive officer of the Orange County Register, was named publisher of the year by E&P. But in its May print issue, E&P is positively gushy about Anderson, noting that he "is pointing a path for newspaper revitalization in an extraordinarily challenging time for the industry." E&P also recognizes Anderson’s role in shaping the "identity" of Orange County. “It's no exaggeration to say that an amorphous area known for Disneyland, orange groves, and pretty much nothing else, became 'The O.C.' in large part because of the work of Chris Anderson and the Register he began transforming as a 30-year-old editor just arrived from Walla Walla, Washington.”

The story goes on to note Anderson's influence on Walt Disney in the creation of Mickey Mouse. Yes, we made up that last part. But E&P does credit Anderson for overseeing creation of "an impressive portfolio of products, many of them -- like the young adult-oriented Squeeze OC and the luxury Coast regional magazine brand extensions -- betraying no hint they are siblings of the Register. Anderson has created and broken apart a series of corporate organizations to keep nimble in the newspaper economy's riptide."

Anderson, 56, heads the flagship newspaper of Freedom Communications Inc., the corporate parent of The Gazette. While at The Gazette, Anderson served as board chairman of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. He also helped lead a community effort to raise private funding to build the Colorado Springs World Arena.

Get a peek at Fountain's economic future

Fountain, the fast-growing city south of Colorado Springs, shed its image years ago as a bedroom community that existed only to serve nearby Fort Carson. New businesses, stores and thousands of homes have gone up in Fountain and city leaders continue to monitor the pulse on the area's economy. An overview of Fountain economic trends will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 11, at the Colorado Springs Country Club, 3333 Templeton Gap Road, northeast of Union Boulevard and Circle Drive.

Fort Carson's growth, changing demographics and efforts to recruit new businesses will be among the topics. Speakers will include economist Fred Crowley of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Fort Carson public works director Hal Alguire. For more information, contact Fountain Economic Development Director Lisa Cochrun at 322-2056 or Fountain officials say the event is taking place in Colorado Springs primarily for the convenience of local real estate agents and commercial brokers.

McAfee estate auction Thursday

Antivirus computer software millionaire John McAfee's estate of nearly 300 acres will be sold at a public auction Thursday, May 10.

Located outside Woodland Park, the 10,000-square-foot home with a slew of cabins and unobstructed mountain views is expected to bring $20 to $25 million. At least that's what McAfee and the auctioneer hope for.

The National Auction Group of Gadsden, Ala., which is holding the auction, has received more than 400 inquiries since news of the auction circulated in early April.

Bidders must take $100,000 in cash or certified funds to the auction, which opens at 11 a.m. Thursday, with the bidding starting at 1 p.m. It is on site at 2000 Arapahoe St. in Teller County.

Call 1-800-650-8720 for more information.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Plenty of room at the inn, er, apartment

Renters are having little trouble finding an apartment in the Colorado Springs area, especially if they look south of town. A new survey found 11.4 percent of the area's 43,700 apartments were vacant during the first quarter of 2007, down from 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, but up from 10.6 percent in the first quarter of 2006.

Because of Fort Carson deployments, vacancies were highest near the southside post; the first quarter vacancy rate was 24.3 percent for apartments in the city of Fountain and the unincorporated areas of Security and Widefield. The Springs' southeast side had a first-quarter vacancy rate of 14.5 percent.
Apartments were hardest to find in the central area of the city, where the vacancy rate was 9.2 percent.

First quarter rents across the metro area averaged $705.23 a month in the first quarter, up from $691.53 in the fourth quarter of 2006 and $703.10 in the first quarter of last year. The report was released by the Apartment Association of Colorado Springs and conducted by Denver University business professor Gordon Von Stroh, whose surveys are done in conjunction with the Colorado Division of Housing.