UPDATE: Brewery-anchored concept to occupy Carter Payne — Public Market back to drawing board


In relation to the question of whether anyone will feel Cottonwood is now over-represented on the Public Market's board, Edie Crawford wrote this morning to clarify that though she is the community development liaison for Cottonwood, she serves on the board of the Public Market representing Rocky Mountain Food Report, not Cottonwood.

—- ORIGINAL POST: MONDAY, AUG 29, 5:39 P.M. —-

After years of holdups and perceived mishaps, Colorado Springs Public Market representatives are once again having to pull back from plans to launch soon. 

Last we heard in mid-July from incoming board chair Jon Khoury, also the executive director of Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Labor Day was to be the day the doors would finally swing open. 

But that's no longer the case, and Carter Payne will no longer be the birthplace. 

An early rendering of CSPM's hopeful habitation of Carter Payne. - COURTESY CSPM
  • Courtesy CSPM
  • An early rendering of CSPM's hopeful habitation of Carter Payne.
Instead, the owners behind Common Cause Catering and Local Relic brewery are under contract to purchase the building, with plans for a 2017 opening. Co-owners Jeff Zearfoss and Melissa Lofton  won't divulge too much more info presently, as many plans remain tentative, but looking toward collaborative spots like The Source and Avanti Food and Beverage in Denver gives some clue as to their thought process for what's ahead. 

To be clear, much as Crooked Stave brewery is a part of The Source, Local Relic will be a part of the new Carter Payne concept, as its anchor tenant. But the couple will form a separate LLC to run the larger development. 

Khoury had communicated last week with Lofton to say that CSPM would not move forward as tenants at Carter Payne, and she replied with a correspondence that frees CSPM of its current lease upon Local Relic/Common Cause Catering's closing (as it otherwise would have survived a transfer in ownership, she says). She also invites Khoury to reach out should at any point in the future should CSPM wish to pursue some sort of partnership, as LR/CCC supports its mission. 

Khoury was unable to take a call Monday but sent the following response via email to confirm details:
1. We are not going into a partnership with Local Relic as they have offered to buy Carter Payne and we will not go into that relationship as tenants. Additionally, we feel we could potentially hold Local Relic back as the CSPM has not raised the funds to be a good partner.
2. We will not be opening by Labor Day, nor will we be at Carter Payne.
3. As our board evolves, the opportunity for significant funding may increase, giving us the opportunity to do a real estate deal where the market has ownership and will possibly have a permanent location.
4. No timeline as of now for any movement until we secure funding, but feeling hopeful that we will have a breakthrough. 
Regarding that board evolution, Khoury also confirmed that Edie Crawford (former arts editor for the Indy, now community development liaison for Cottonwood) has joined up as the board secretary. That leaves Scott Harvey, Mike Callicrate, Kady Hommel and Khoury comprising the remainder of the board, with original members Sally Davis and Dave Anderson now having stepped away. (It's worth noting that some folks felt Ranch Foods Direct and pals were over-represented on the former board; will anyone feel Cottonwood now is?)

For his part, Callicrate, ever the outspoken food activist and the early voice for the market, laments a lack of support for the market from the city. "A few people do, like Susan Edmondson [Downtown Partnership] and Jill Gaebler [City Council]," he says, "but to expect a few individuals to build something this significant with this much impact on the community — it can't happen.

"We've built strong support among the citizens, but not among leadership, which appears controlled by people who see a different vision for Colorado Springs, more based on Wall Street and collecting rent from chain types. I know the community is frustrated, but the city needs to get behind it. We can't get them to wake up."

Common Cause Catering owners Jeff Zearfoss and Melissa Lofton. - COURTESY JEFF ZEARFOSS
  • Courtesy Jeff Zearfoss
  • Common Cause Catering owners Jeff Zearfoss and Melissa Lofton.
Considering around a year's wasted rent for Carter Payne — reported to be upwards of $45,000 according to a former board member — with nothing to show presently, that community frustration likely extends to those who donated money via Indy Give! and other initiatives, who might feel their dollars haven't been well spent.  

Without more to report on CSPM's plans presently, let's get back to Local Relic, who was formerly slated to join the Lincoln Center before Goat Patch Brewing announced its move-in. 

Lofton says Local Relic pulled out because "as a small business, we needed a little more security" in terms of investing money into a space they actually own. With Carter Payne, she says "we found a location we love that we feel like is our home."

Plus, she says, "It's got a lot of great history. It was the first African American church in town, gifted during the Palmer land grants. We want to honor the history and intent of what we believe a church to be. In terms of a community spot, a place of remembrance, celebration. We want to restore it to that glory as a community hub." 

A side note: Local Relic beer dinners will return soon, they say, in partnership and as a fundraiser for Marian House Soup Kitchen, where Zearfoss has volunteered weekly for more than a decade.  

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