City Center News & Updates

2022 Downtown Stars

2022 Downtown star awards

The Downtown Star Award spotlights the champions, innovators, visionaries, and problem solvers who make our city center the best it can be. 

Brother Luck received Downtown Star Award 2022

Individual Award: Chef Brother Luck
Four by Brother Luck and Lucky Dumpling Restaurants

Working in professional kitchens since the age of 14, Brother Luck already had rich experience when he ventured out on his own to open the scrappy Brother Luck Street Eats in the Triple Nickle Tavern downtown nearly a decade ago. His themed dinners and “knife fight” competitions added much-needed zest to the local culinary scene. After a brief stint on the city’s westside, Brother returned to Downtown in 2017 to open IV by Brother Luck and followed soon after by Lucky Dumpling. His stints on the Food Network, such as beating Bobby Flay on “Beat Bobby Flay” and his impressive run in “Top Chef” and its “Last Chance Kitchen” elevated his profile nationally and helped to put Colorado Springs on the map as well. 

But, this is not why we recognize Brother as a Downtown Star.

We salute Brother for his choice to be vulnerable, to speak openly about his struggles with depression, and his advocacy for mental wellness, especially in an industry rife with intense stress and pressures.

He gives back to this community continuously, supporting culinary vocational training at Fort Carson, mentoring students and early-career cooks, and cooking for numerous charitable nonprofit fundraisers. His powerful memoir “No Lucks Given,” to be released in just a few days, furthers his mission to normalize mental health struggles and let others know they’re not alone.

Brother could have a successful culinary career anywhere in the country, but he’s chosen to make his mark in Downtown Colorado Springs. 

Crystal LaTier receives Downtown Star Award 2022

Civil servant: Crystal LaTier
Economic Development Executive Director, El Paso County

Crystal LaTier had been working in El Paso County Community Development for 10 years, yet was just rounding out her first year as El Paso County’s Economic Development Director when pandemic shutdowns hit in March 2020. Small businesses countywide were devastated, and when the county allocated federal aid to a Regional Business Relief Fund, Crystal and her team leaped into action, creating a nimble, equitable and accessible grant program.

Two rounds of applications, one each in 2020 and 2021, resulted in nearly 1,500 grants awarded, supporting nearly 1,200 businesses with a total of about $24 million. Grants reached broadly to all areas of the county, and with Downtown home to the largest concentration of independent restaurants in all of Southern Colorado, as well as a strong local retail scene, these grants were, quite simply, lifesavers to our city center.

Crystal also serves a dual role as director of the El Paso County Housing Authority, administering with her team the Housing Trust Fund and down payment assistance as well as the issuance of Private Activity Bonds. In fact, it was the allocation late last year of $13 million in private activity bonds that leveraged a cascading effect of financial commitments to our own DDA’s efforts to build affordable housing in the heart of Downtown.

While issuing bonds or administering grants and many other programs could be considered simply just part of the job, a task to finish or a box to check, what makes Crystal excel in her role is her deep understanding of the holistic nature of economic vitality – that attainable housing and support for small businesses is as essential as large-scale marquee initiatives. She approaches her work by being a good listener, seeking first to understand and then to make impact.

For her leadership, determination and commitment to our region and our Downtown, we are happy to name Crystal a 2022 Downtown Star. 

Cottonwood receives Downtown Star Award 2022

Business/organization: Cottonwood Center for the Arts and Executive Director, Jon Khoury

Cottonwood Center for the Arts is a cornerstone of the Downtown Creative District and our city’s cultural scene. You may have heard of Cottonwood Center for the Arts, but there are a few things you probably didn’t know.

Cottonwood is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Founded by artist Sparky LeBold, Cottonwood grew into a busy center of activity in an old Utilities building near America the Beautiful Park. The organization has a storied history of struggles and triumphs, including the pivotal move in 2009 to the east end of Downtown, and is today home to 120 working artists in 73 studios with over 50 art instructors. There are two main galleries, six ancillary galleries, the David Lord theater, and its newest addition, an alley courtyard.

Last year more than 80,000 people walked through the doors of Cottonwood, for personal art making, arts education, community events, film screenings and more.

There’s another anniversary Cottonwood is celebrating, as it was 10 years ago last month that Jon Khoury arrived in Colorado Springs from New York City to begin serving as Cottonwood’s executive director, setting the organization on its transformative path in terms of the caliber of artists represented in studios and exhibitions; collaborations with veteran support organizations and human service agencies, among many other community partners; remodeling of public areas; and a determined path toward financial sustainability.

Khoury has repeatedly been named Cultural White Knight in The Independent’s Best of the Springs, and he’s determined to tell the world that the talents of artists in the Pikes Peak region rival those of any big city in the country.  

For the excellence, relevance and vigor that they add to our city center, our final Downtown Star Award goes to Cottonwood Center for the Arts and Executive Director Jon Khoury.