COLORADO SPRINGS, CO-Last year, this city, the second largest in Colorado, ended almost 10 years of unparalleled prosperity, finally succumbing to the economic slowdown, according to the latest multifamily report from Denver-based Apartment Realty Advisors.

The apartment market vacancy rate has been at or below 5% essentially from 1993, but now is at 11.8%, according to the company, headed by Jeff Hawks and Doug Andrews.Average asking rents have been flat, at an average of $675 per month.

“Economic rents, which account for incentives and concessions, have dropped in many cases to as low as 80% of projections,” according to the report. The city lost 4,600 relatively high-paying jobs in 2001 and another 3,600 in 2002.

However, the worse as far as layoffs appears to be over. There are even signs of employment growth. For example, Progressive Insurance and Mountain View Medical Group will add 550 jobs to the Briargate Business Park.

In addition, Colorado Springs benefits from military bases, although apartments are suffering short-term as troops are deployed to Iraq. However, many of the units are being backfilled by reservists and National Guard personnel.

The report concludes that 2001 and 2002 were difficult years, but not as bad as the market in the late ’80s.”If the experts are right and we have seen the worst of the downturn, Colorado Springs is poised for a leveling off in 2003 and a very bright future in 2004 and beyond,” according to Apartment Realty Advisors.

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