A live work campus for veterans inaugurates | First

Project leaders inaugurate the Veterans Victory project in the southeast on January 27.

When real estate developer and financial consultant Kim Kuhle heard about Opportunity Zone Financing – an economic development tool that allows investors to back projects in troubled areas and defer taxes on capital gains – she found ways to make a long-held dream of helping veterans come true.

Kuhle’s father was a lieutenant in the United States Air Force and she remembers living on several bases. When she was a child, her mother suffered from PTSD after being burned in an explosion, and her father, seeing his wife badly injured, had a heart attack. For Kim, that traumatic episode lingered and evolved into a desire to do something positive for veterans, especially those with PTSD.

After years of experience setting up complex financial packages and community development projects, Kuhle established the Veterans Victory Opportunity Fund in 2018.

His vision was a system of holistic campuses where veterans could live, work and collaborate to create new businesses. Kuhle, who is based in Gretna, Nebraska, chose southeast Colorado Springs as the site for her first project — the $67 million Veterans Victory Housing & Small Business Center.

Kuhle launched the opportunity zone fund with $1,000. Now, four years later, the fund has attracted $2 million in investments and is looking to raise another $18 million. Kuhle invested $625,000 of his own money and recruited a list of lenders, supporters and partners.

Together with TBK Bank, Kuhle purchased a 15-acre parcel of farmland and on January 27 celebrated the groundbreaking of the first Veterans Victory project.

The campus, located at Bradley Road and South Powers Boulevard, will be the site of 240 accessible and green multi-family apartments and 15 business offices, as well as event and coworking spaces for collaboration and networking.

On-campus financial education and small business training will be provided, along with physical therapy, mental health services, social events, and recreational opportunities including yoga and hiking trails. The campus will be dotted with artwork and sculptures celebrating veteran service.

For resident veterans transitioning to civilian careers, the Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center will offer additional resources and services.

Some 25% of veterans want to become entrepreneurs after leaving the service, Kuhle said.

“I put it all together because veterans are looking for a way to deepen their knowledge after leaving the military,” Kuhle said. “We rely on the shared knowledge of these veterans. … The driving force is to have something positive for that person who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or who just wants to be in a community after the transition.

The Colorado Springs campus is just the beginning of what Kuhle envisions. It aims to create communities of veterans in other places in the country that will be modeled on the local development of the veterans’ victory.


“Colorado Springs is a great city for our first veterans win because 18 percent of the population is in the veterans community, Kuhle said. “And of course there are many military bases.”

The campus adjoins the Peak Innovation Park and is about a mile southeast of Amazon’s facilities. Kuhle believes this will provide opportunities for Veterans Victory entrepreneurs. The site is also four miles from Fort Carson.

The region’s strong public procurement sector was another incentive. Veterans on campus will have access to resources and knowledge about Veteran Preference Contracts.

“We hope to have a group of entrepreneurs in our small business center who can take advantage of their veteran preference and land deals,” Kuhle said. “It helps everyone because we have more dollars coming into the veteran community.”

One of the features that will set Veterans Victory apart is its use of GTSG Global’s AdvantEdge “smart city” technology to deliver the fastest broadband services available, which will help veterans connect and sell products and services. to other veteran-owned businesses and government organizations across the country.

The community will also include solar panels and lighting, charging stations and security systems connected to a local network. These features will result in cost savings for the community and benefits for investors.

In addition to Opportunity Zone investors, funding for the $67 million project will come from private lenders, Enterprise Zone incentives, and funding from the Property-Rated Clean Energy Program, which allows property owners to implement clean energy projects and repay the costs over 10 to 20 years.

But “opportunity zones are at the heart of what we do,” Kuhle said.

Created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones allow investors to support development in designated Opportunity Zones chosen by each state. The area in which Veterans Victory is located is one of eight designated Opportunity Zones in El Paso County.

Investors who contribute to the Veterans Victory Opportunity Zone Fund may defer tax on qualifying capital gains based on the length of time they hold the investment. Under the law, there is a 10% exclusion of deferred gain if the investment is held for five years. If he is detained for at least seven years, the exclusion becomes 15%.

If the investment is held for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible for a basis adjustment to the fair market value on the date the investment is sold. Therefore, the capital gain on the investment is a non-taxable capital gain.

Kuhle estimates that in addition to the tax savings, investors will reap an internal rate of return of 20% or more. She plans to seek additional investment from banks seeking credit under the Community Reinvestment Act and investors seeking capital gain benefits.

The community itself is expected to generate more than $6 million annually, primarily through rents from one- to three-bedroom apartments and office space.


Less than a week after the groundbreaking and public announcement of the project, Veterans Victory has a waiting list of 110 people for the apartments. While most will rent at market rates, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s VA supportive housing program and grants will subsidize 40 supportive housing units in Mt. Carmel, Kuhle said.

Veterans Victory also responded to inquiries about commercial spaces, said Chuck Lesnick, vice president of New York-based Relocation Management Associates and an investor in the project for himself and on behalf of his 96-year-old father-in-law. . , a World War II veteran.

Lesnick, also a member of the project’s advisory board, met Kuhle at an Opportunity Zone conference.

“I was drawn to her because she’s incredibly enthusiastic about the mission,” he said. “And from an investor’s perspective, it offers an excellent IRR.”

Lesnick said he’s been involved in 10 other Opportunity Zone projects and is helping bring other people to the table “who are bigger players in the OZ market. I’m confident we’ll get one or two to commit in the very short term.

Local firm Hammers Construction is the design-build general contractor for Veterans Victory and donates a portion of their services. “We always like to be a good sponsor and we appreciate our veterans,” said vice president Dave Hammers.

“Organizations will contact us and ask us to gather budget figures for grassroots projects,” he said. “That way they don’t have to go through the whole process of an architect and pay for it all. We will offer most of these services free of charge, especially for organizations like this. So I think our process allowed us to open the door. Once we met them and understood what they were doing, we were able to help them.

The project is in the preliminary design phase, he said. Hammers expects it will take six to eight months to complete the design, obtain the necessary approvals and permits, and begin construction. He estimated that the project will be finished in about 14 months.

“We’re excited to do this and we’re happy to give back to the community,” he said.

The Colorado Springs community will be the model for projects in other cities, but they will vary by location, Kuhle said.

“We have already identified land in Pueblo and Grand Junction,” she said. “Grand Junction may end up being a specialty area where a number of veterans go into fishing and hunting entrepreneurship. We think Pueblo will be a little more focused on trades, like welding, electrical, and phototechnical – that’s the fastest growing part of solar energy training.

A community in South Sioux City, Nebraska, will focus on 20 nonprofit organizations that want a rent-to-own program for their offices.

“Veterans Victory will build these 20 offices for the 20 nonprofits and run them for 10 years while the nonprofits save their money and make their payments for their own offices,” she said.

In Omaha, “we plan to have closer partnerships with the special center here for anti-bioterrorism,” she said. In San Benito, Texas, “we include first responders and we include Border Patrol as well as Veterans Services.

“There are a lot of exciting things we can do, and jobs we can create, with our plan.”

Veterans who wish to join the Veterans Victory Colorado Springs waiting list can text Kuhle at 402-639-8855. More information is available

online at vvsbc.com.

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