A Downtown staycation delights and surprises
by Susan Edmondson, President & CEO, Downtown Partnership
I expected my brief staycation in Downtown Colorado Springs to be fun, relaxing and a pleasant diversion. What I didn’t expect was that I’d fall in love with my city and my Downtown all over again. Throughout my brief respite, I relished glimpses of what’s to come – when someday we can all gather again in larger groups and have carefree evenings full of surprise encounters with pals and colleagues.
My not-quite-24-hour break from the monotony of homebound work and socializing among my small pod of family and friends was better than I could have imagined. I ended a long work week on a Friday afternoon by checking in to Downtown’s just-opened boutique hotel, KINSHIP LANDING. The sweet, slightly earthy scent of alder envelops you upon entering the space, full of gorgeous wood paneling and custom millwork by GARRETT BROWN DESIGNS. The social spaces are light and airy, accented throughout with greenery. Keyless check-in is convenient (no need to visit the front desk) but of course I was nevertheless greeted by Lindsay, one of Kinship’s team members, who graciously gave me a tour. I was especially excited to hear that HOMA, the casual dining space helmed by renowned local chef Jay Gust, will be opening soon.
I headed up to my room and quickly rolled up the garage-style windows to enjoy the sunset from my balcony. I poured myself a glass of wine and took in the view of Pikes Peak, as well as Downtown’s growing skyline, with the beautiful MAE ON CASCADE APARTMENTS slightly to the south, and the construction crane looming over the dual-branded Marriott hotel opening next year.
Kinship must be experienced in person to fully take in how unique this place is. With art curated by FIXER BRAND DESIGN STUDIO and design by ECHO ARCHITECTURE INTERIORS, the experience is truly Colorado Springs – not merely Colorado, with ski lodge-style cliches, but a place that wholly loves and embraces our city, our talented artists and designers, our community and our rugged outdoor lifestyle.
It was FIRST FRIDAY, and I had a 7 pm reservation at KREUSER GALLERY, which was celebrating with its third annual “Gratitude” exhibit, showing off a range of works from exceptional local artists. The reservation system safely limited numbers, and everyone was respectfully masked. It was gratifying to see how gallery owner Abby Kreuser has thrived in this new location on Boulder Street. Abby also is dedicated to performing artists, and the evening featured local performers with short segments each hour. Dancer Jordan McHenry and musician David Mussante delighted the intimate group of patrons with a quirky and exhilarating short performance called “we’re all m.a.d. here.” Jordan concluded with a poignant thanks to those in attendance and acknowledging the longing we all feel – both performers and patrons – for the days when full-scale live performances will resume.
From Kreuser Gallery I walked around the corner to IV BY BROTHER LUCK, where I had called ahead to order takeout dinner – and good thing I did, because the place was as bustling as bustling can be while also respecting orders for limited capacity and social distancing. Back at my hotel room I tucked into my order of roasted cauliflower enchiladas and one of my favorites at Brother’s – the decadent spicy-sweet-creamy jalapeno poppers. Heaven!
I slept well (the mattress was like a hug from a cloud) and awoke refreshed. I heated up the in-room kettle and enjoyed the best hotel coffee I’ve ever had – a pour-over bag of SWITCHBACK COFFEE ROASTERS’ Institute Street House Blend. Wow! Deep, rich and slightly chocolatey – it sets the standard for all other in-room hotel coffee anywhere. I also was hungry so I ordered online from LOYAL COFFEE and walked across the street to pick up my almond-milk latte and avocado toast with a perfectly poached egg (don’t judge – Loyal elevates toast to savory and fulfilling morning treats).
My staycation wasn’t over yet. I had reservations just a block away at the COLORADO SPRINGS PIONEERS MUSEUM’s new “COS@150” exhibit, celebrating our city’s sesquicentennial. As always, museum admission is free but reservations help to ensure safe distancing (walk-ups are accommodated if space allows).
The exhibit features 150 objects, 10 per decade, telling the story of our city’s founding and maturation: the men and women with vision, the titans of industry, those who fought oppression or challenged the status quo, the gifts of our natural surroundings and the architectural wonders that remain or sadly are lost. I was blown away by Leah Davis Witherow’s incredible curation. Exhibits like this are so challenging to arrange – what gets included? what is omitted? – but she has achieved the near-impossible. I hesitate to share too much, because each and every object is a joy and should be discovered afresh.
As the historic heart of the city, of course Downtown is well represented here, from the original cherubic frieze of the now-destroyed Burns Opera House, to the signage from Poor Richard’s Feed & Read, the predecessor to the POOR RICHARD’S complex of businesses on North Tejon Street. Downtown Partnership itself is represented through Van Briggle tiles that became part of streetscape improvements in the 1990s; you can read more about the Partnership’s feature in the exhibit HERE.
I could gush on and on about this wonderful exhibit but I’ll simply say: Go. Everyone should experience this remarkable show at their own pace and marvel at the way individual objects tell the story of our people and our beloved city.
As I departed and reflected on my brief Downtown staycation I took with me a quote from the opening of the exhibit. In a letter to his brother, city founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer wrote: “You and I must endeavor to … never get any prejudice in favour of things as they are, simply because nothing before has ever been suggested.” That thought illuminates the renaissance of Downtown Colorado Springs: embracing and preserving the best of our past and present while also opening our minds and our hearts to new ideas, new businesses and innovators such as the founders of Kinship Landing, our chefs, designers and artists and all those who build this exciting future for our city center.