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Ministry strategizing commercial development

The Colorado Springs City Planning Department has begun the development process for the proposed Woodmen Heights Plaza, a 113-acre development owned by Woodmen Valley Chapel.Planners hosted a meeting in April to review the plans with the surrounding neighbors.The land is located north of Woodmen Road, bound on the east by Mustang Road, on the west by Sand Creek. Marksheffel Road will be the north border when Woodmen Road is extended.The conceptual site plan for the project includes a new church, an elementary school, a community center, commercial offices, retail stores and multi-family and single-family homes.Larry Larsen, senior planner for Colorado Springs, said plans have been submitted for developing the other three corners of the future Woodmen Road and Marksheffel Road intersection. Larsen, who conducted the neighborhood meeting, said about 25 people attended. ìThey are concerned about traffic and building height that will obscure their view of Pikes Peak,î he said.Les Krohnfeldt, Woodmen Valley Chapel representative, said, ìWeíre not certain yet whether those structures would be two-story, three-story, how much square footage they would entail, and so forth. We have more planning to do before we reach that level of detail.î Krohnfeldt also said the church plans to make the office and retail space available to nonprofits and other organizations that complement the churchís ministry. He said plans do not include big-box stores.The Woodmen Heights Metropolitan District is responsible for constructing Marksheffel Road north of Woodmen Road, Krohnfeldt said. The first phase will bring the road about 1,000 feet north of Woodmen to the first primary intersection, which will become the main entrance to the church property, reducing traffic on Woodmen and its frontage road. In future years, he said Marksheffel will be extended to Sand Creek, where a bridge will be built across Sand Creek. Ultimately, Marksheffel will connect to Research Parkway.ìWe will spend the better part of this year in city processes and approvals,î Krohnfeldt said. ìThe first thing we have to do is get a master plan amendment to allow for rezoning of the property. Weíre requested rezoning approval to a PUD zone [from a public assembly use].î He said he doesnít expect construction to start before 2009.Regarding the churchís nonprofit status, Krohnfeldt said the church has formed a sole-member corporation called ìCenter for Strategic Ministry,î also a nonprofit, that supports Woodmen Valley Chapel and protects the church from non-church activities.A number of for-profit and nonprofit support groups are organized under the Center for Strategic Ministry. ìWhen it comes to functioning as a developer, those activities will be conducted in a for-profit environment,î Krohnfeldt said. ìThe four for-profit organizations are subordinate to the ministry. After they have met all tax obligations, the remaining money goes to the nonprofit groups.îThe Woodmen Heights Metropolitan Development District is a bonded district, and Krohnfeldt said the church entered into a PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with the district. Every year for 30 years, the church contributes to the district a fixed amount based on the percentage of acreage the church owns within the district, as if it were paying taxes.ìBy that means, we contribute our percentage to the Marksheffel development,î he said.

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