Woodland Park: Poised for Economic Growth
Often referred to as the “City Above the Clouds” due to its aesthetic setting, it is commonly thought of as a touristy little haven or a place to pass through on your way to somewhere else, but this small community is readily taking flight, making its own headlines as it attracts and becomes home to new businesses with big plans for the future.
“Woodland Park has always been a great and beautiful place to live,” says Mayor Neil Levy, who also owns the Swiss Chalet restaurant. “But these big companies who are looking to expand know how to do their homework for prospective growth areas and if we are attracting some of those businesses then our future is looking really good.”
Levy is referring to recently announced expansion plans for Natural Grocers, who has selected land but not yet broken ground, and a new Microtel Inn and Suites that is underway with plans to open in the fall of 2018.
There are a number of projects in the works on Main Street as well, according to Tanner Coy, owner of Tweed’s Fine Furnishings and member of the Downtown Development Authority. A new restaurant called The Southern Lilly has recently opened in the area and boasts authentic Southern cuisine made from scratch, while a local car wash owner is expanding his business by building an additional car wash just east of the Dinosaur Resource Center on land that has sat vacant for years. Coy also notes a new paint store and an outdoor recreation equipment business are coming to town, occupying previously vacant buildings.
“This is a great sign since we haven’t really had anything new until recently,” Coy says. “All indicators point in the same direction. Downtown Woodland Park has a very bright future.”
The headquarters for Charis Bible College also calls Woodland Park its home and has plans for expansion. Its sister company, Andrew Wommack Ministries, which is presently located in Colorado Springs, will be relocating to Woodland Park later this year, according to Gary Luecke, vice president of Charis Bible College. Some 750 students presently attend the college with approximately 100 employees on staff. But Luecke says when the ministry relocates its headquarters to a space adjacent to the Bible College, the campus will employ a workforce of more than 450.
The main auditorium at the Bible College is also under construction and when complete this fall will have a seating capacity of 3,200. Luecke says this is a game-changer for the college, but also the community as a whole, as it will have the ability to attract a variety of outside conferences, bringing in activities such as concerts that would have an increased economic impact.
“Woodland Park is a beautiful area and the city has been very gracious to us,” Luecke says. “We definitely want to be a community resource in some way.”
New growth will certainly impact housing in the area. According to the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, the average sold price for a single-family home in Woodland Park in 2017 was $382,387 with more than 50 parcels of land sold in the same timeframe. Rental inventory is also tightening as the area continues to grow.
“We continue to see and rely on a lot of tourism,” Levy says. “But we are also seeing people purchase a second or third home here because of the beauty of the area.“
“Our picturesque mountain town is attracting retirees from Florida to California that desire to spend their retirement years in a quiet mountain village setting that has all the amenities of hospitals, retirement centers, hiking, fishing and much more,” adds Mark McNab, Highmark LLC’s designer and principal builder. “The same retirees are taking advantage of investing in new single family rentals that are in overwhelming demand in Woodland Park due to the growth in the area. Those looking for an area of limited growth will find Woodland Park to be a quiet community town for the indefinite future due to the mountain setting, city limits and planning.”