Dec 2, 2022 - News

Colorado Springs' future is filled with potential

Downtown buildings in Colorado Springs, captured in an aerial image taken with a drone, on Nov. 23. Photo: Brittany Peterson/AP

Colorado Springs is shedding its reputation as a quiet, conservative military town and transforming into a destination for young and educated newcomers.

Why it matters: The state's second biggest city, nestled at the edge of Pikes Peak, is stepping out from Denver's shadow and making a name for itself nationally thanks to its strong job market and access to the outdoors.

State of play: With a growing and diversifying population, the fabric of the community is changing — from its cost of housing to the way people vote.

What they're saying: "In the past, most people moved here for jobs. Now, it has become a city where more people are moving here because they want to," Amie Streater, real estate adviser and owner of Engel & Völkers Colorado Springs, told the Wall Street Journal in September.

By the numbers: The population of Colorado Springs has spiked 69% from 1992 to the estimated 2022 population of about 506,000, city documents show, with much of the recent growth driven by young adults.

  • In the last five years, El Paso County grew 6.5% — making it the most populous county in Colorado.
  • The Springs is expected to surpass Denver's population by 2050, state projections show.

Of note: Colorado Springs was named one of the top 10 places to live in the U.S. in 2022-23. And the Milken Institute listed it as one of the "best-performing," large U.S. cities for its job growth and economic stability.

The other side: Rapid growth is pushing local leaders to address the associated challenges, including a lack of affordable housing.

  • The median rent in Colorado Springs soared 38% in the last four years, CPR reports, and experts say wages and housing construction haven't kept up.
  • Meanwhile, the area still lacks diversity (77% of the population is white) and skews older, leading to a patchwork of contrasting cultural and social customs citywide.

The big picture: Colorado Springs remains overwhelmingly conservative — with nearly double the amount of Republicans registered to vote as Democrats — but its signature as a city dominated by military bases and megachurches is fading as new industries, like tech, take off in the remote-work era.

What to watch: With 47% of local voters now registering as unaffiliated, according to the El Paso County county clerk's office, the city once dubbed "The Evangelical Vatican" appears to be headed in a more moderate direction.

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