Can the Town’s Idle “Field of Dreams” Finally Strike Paydirt?
After years of disappointing proposals coming and going for two-plus decades, there are now two projects before the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to develop the Woodland Station area, once regarded as the possible commercial core of Woodland Park.
Some officials are cautiously optimistic, while critics say past history has told the same story too many times for this parcel of land.
A group headed by Derek Waggoner of Woodland Park revived his proposal, originally made three years ago, to build the Tava House restaurant, culinary school and event center on Woodland Station. Waggoner has assembled investors and a development team that includes ECHO Architecture of Colorado Springs and David Weekley Homes for the residential component.
The Waggoner project will include a mix of residential and commercial space on 6.3-acres on Woodland Station. Among the mixed use, Waggoner’s vision of the TAVA house (steakhouse, tap house, culinary school, and event center.) will be the centerpiece of the project. The proposal will also include a bouldering gym, beer garden, coffee shop. Waggoner put his money where his mouth is, and offered the DDA $800,000 cash for the 6.3 acres with a target closing date of Aug. 31.
Another proposal, offered by Mike Williams and his investors, has been floating around in various shapes and configurations for three years. Williams has had several meetings before the board, but little progress has been made.
In November of 2020, Williams was granted a 90-day exclusive right to develop Woodland Station agreement from the board. He claimed he needed the security of that agreement so his preliminary investment costs would not be for naught should another developer come up with a proposal. At the time Williams said, “It’s probably a year process. There’s much research to be done.” Williams related the thoughts of what his vice president of development said. He estimated that they are entertaining $100-200 thousand dollars in drawings and civil engineering before which time they can let the market discover what the best uses of the property.
Williams made an offer of $200,000 cash for the 6.3 acres and $1.8 million in reserve to cover expenses incurred by the city or the DDA related to the development.
If Waggoner gets the DDA nod, the $5 million Tava House project may also include additional property that is owned by DDA Board Member, Arden Weatherford. Weatherford, who owns the BierWerks property, once had a lengthy battle with the DDA board over previous development plans at Woodland Station.
The lack of development activity at Woodland Station, even with loans and previous designs, funded by the city, has been the main area of criticism facing the DDA board for years.
The Woodland Station area, which once housed the Saddle Club and Bergstrom arena, has sat mostly sat idle for more than 20 years.
A score of projects have been proposed, but none of them have really advanced due to infrastructure costs and logistic problems associated with the site, and just a limited market base. At one time, Woodland Station was the preferred home for the Aquatic Center. But even the city abandoned this idea due to projected infrastructure costs.
A new board of directors is now in charge of the DDA, which has tried to have better relations with the city. Virtually all of the members of the previous board no longer hold positions with the appointed panel.