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Backhoes shape the earth to create retaining walls below Pikes Peak Avenue and a pedestrian plaza as part of the Westside Avenue Action Plan near Ridge Road and Colorado Avenue. At far right is a hot dog shop that’s stayed open.
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Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2018: numbers 1-7

       Editor's note: The article about story numbers 8-14 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 15-20 and honorable mention at this link.

Jan. 13, 2019; updated Jan. 30
       It was hard to miss the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) in 2018. Almost any driver on West Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street could attest to the heavy equipment in the roadway and long waits in front of flagger stop signs.
       Under construction since late 2016, the project (and before that, its planning study) has been on the Westside Pioneer Stories of the Year list each of the past
Colorado Avenue traffic near 33rd Street narrows to a single lane, controlled by a flagger, as crews with contractor Wildcat Construction work to install underground utilities and storm drains for the Westside Avenue Action Plan project.
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five years, but rose to the top in 2018, in terms of sheer impact.
       WAAP was hardly the only road construction on the Westside in 2018. Segments of six well-traveled streets were fully or partially closed - more than three months in the case of 21st Street - while receiving major upgrades.
       All that kept roadwork in general from taking number two on our story list was the frenzy of activity in the Garden of the Gods, from digging up artifacts to digging down for trails.
       Land development on the once-quiet Mesa was another theme for the year, as evidenced by the under-construction Olson Plumbing & Heating project (see article at this link), as well as endeavors listed on this page in Stories #6 and #7) - although the abandonment of plans for a large hospital (Story #4) was a move in the other direction.
       1. Westside Avenue Action Plan. The October opening of the new Adams Crossing Bridge over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road was a major 2018 highlight for WAAP. However, illustrating how this complex, multi-jurisdictional project has gone, final work (including the demolition of what's left of the bridge it's replacing) continues into 2019. Items on the to-do list include Midland Trail links, a revised creek channel, a replacement stone wall alongside Columbia, utilities, sidewalks and reopening Pikes Peak Avenue (closed since November) at Ridge Road.
       Overall project completion is now predicted in June. A year ago, the announced intent was to have everything done in 2018. The bridge itself was to have opened last May.
       Other significant work to date includes widening Columbia at Colorado Avenue; obtaining most of the 90-some needed property easements; continuing the installation of underground utilities; and moving forward on a future pedestrian plaza at Ridge Road.
       But with continuing underground surprises, easement issues and summer flooding, according to project officials, the schedule had to be extended, and
On a sunny winter day in the Garden of the Gods, the broadened and rerouted Gateway Trail, with its new footbridge over Camp Creek, attracts various users. The trail connects the Visitor Center and the Central Garden. The reroute also moved the trail farther from Gateway Road. The work was part of a $440,000 Colorado Springs Parks project that included a reroute of the Foothills Trail paralleling 30th Street. In the background is the Garden’s Kindergarten Rock.
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money became an issue. Going into 2018, the budget had been $30.9 million. The main funding comes from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) capital sales tax. The RTA board, consisting of elected officials from governments in the county, OK'd a $4.6 million boost in March and another $5.5 million in December, raising the budget to $41 million. As Brett Hartzell, who came on as project manager in August, remarked, “This will be a great project when it's done.”
       2. Garden of the Gods. 2018 saw a wide range of plans and projects in the free, internationally popular city park… so much so that we separated Camp Creek, which runs through the Garden, into a separate category (see Story #12 in Stories of the Year 2018, numbers 8-14 at this link.) as well as the 30th Street study (see Story #17 in Stories of the Year 2018, numbers 15-Honorable Mention, at this link.) That “only” leaves the following elements for the Garden topic:
       Shuttles - With vehicle use causing occasional gridlock on park roadways, a free, optional shuttle service was tried from May to early September, with cars allowed to park at the north end of Rock Ledge Ranch's lot at 30th and Gateway. About 61,000 people rode the shuttle; the city said the service may be back in 2019.
       Gates - While the Garden still is free to enter and is open daily, gates installed in 2018 allow the city to close it during special events and, on a regular basis, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. (May 1 to Oct. 31) and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (Nov. 1 to April 30).
       Motorless - As part of its 2018 alternative transportation effort, on one Sunday in the spring and another in the fall, City Parks closed the Garden to cars for several hours. The public like it, Parks officials said, and more such days are anticipated.
       Trails - A $440,000 Colorado Springs Parks project rerouted the Foothills and Gateway trails and built a new pedestrian bridge over Camp Creek for the
During the summer of 2018, 24th Street was paved from Pikes Peak Avenue to Wolff place, under Colorado Springs' 2C "road tax" program. The photo here, taken in July, looks north from Uintah Street.
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Gateway. Time will tell if paving the formerly gravel Foothills Trail will lure speed-oriented bicyclists off 30th Street, which parallels it. (Update, Jan. 30: City Parks increased the contract for this work from $440,000 - the amount stated above - to $840,000. A Parks spokesperson explained that the original contract was based on a gravel trail surface; the additional $400,000 for concrete came from city Trails, Open Space and Parks sales tax revenues.)
       Restrooms - The $1.85 million project, which is to expand the current capacity, is planned to start in early 2019. Two locations are planned: the North Main parking lot and Parking Lot 7 (the Scotsman picnic area).
       3. Roadwork/2C impacts. The “good news,” from the vantage point of traffic snarls and lengthy closures, is that no projects under the city's 2C road- repair program are scheduled on the Westside in 2019. But from the vantage point of improved roadways, now that 2018 is over, motorists can enjoy driving on the following segments (not including WAAP):
  • 21st Street from Argus Boulevard to Lower Gold Camp Road and from Cimarron Street/Highway 24 o Colorado Avenue.
  • 24th Street from Pikes Peak Avenue to Wolff Place.
  • Walnut Street from Colorado Avenue to Boulder Street - also restriped after paving to “diet” the road from four lanes to two with bike lanes (as discussed at a public meeting earlier in the year). Similarly dieted was Bijou Street from Walnut to the I-25 interchange.
  • Gold Camp Road from 26th Street to Bear Creek Road.
  • Chestnut Street from Buena Ventura Street to Fillmore Street.
           2C is the name of the voter-approved city ballot measure that established a .62 percent sales tax to pay for road upgrades over a five-year span (2016-2020).
           Other major roadwork in 2018 resulted from the WAAP project (see Story #1) and two Colorado Department of Transportation projects - one to eliminate left turns from Ridge Road onto Highway 24, the other to lengthen the left-turn lane and
    A 2017 graphic combined artwork with an aerial photograph to display the juxtaposition of a 51-acre property – approved in 2015 for a Penrose-St. Francis hospital campus at Fillmore and Centennial – and the adjacent 28-acre site (a former asphalt batch plant) which was added to the project plan in 2017. P-SF has now given up on that plan.
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    make safety/drainage upgrades at 31st Street and Highway 24. (Note: The latter project is continuing, with light poles to be installed.)
           4. Hospital pullout. One of the most important Westside news developments in 2018 was something that didn't happen. For close to three years, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services had been pursuing plans for a major hospital complex at Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street, gaining city OK's to allow a 12-story hospital and two office towers of six stories each. But the plan's been abandoned. (See article at this link.)
           5. Bancroft Park. The city's reconstruction of the 1-acre Old Colorado City park could start in January. (See article at this link).
           6. Land - construction.
           New bank coming - The demolition in December of a former car wash and office building in the 3000 block of West Colorado Avenue dramatized Ent Credit
    A southwesterly view across Colorado Avenue at 30th Street shows the taped-off car wash at left and the neighboring office building mostly obscured in the trees to the right in August 2018, prior to their demolition in the fall, in preparation for future Ent Credit Union construction. See post-demolition photo below.B>
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    Union's plan to build a 5,290-square-foot bank facility on the 1.24 acres they used to sit on.
           Ent submitted a redevelopment proposal to Colorado Springs Planning in October for what used to be 3005 and 3009 W. Colorado. The not-for-profit financial cooperative hopes to start construction in 2019.
           Since 2000, Ent has leased a 1,700-square-foot space in the Red Rock shopping center off Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street, known as its “Westside Service Center.” The new building, about three times
    In anticipation of city approval for its plan to build a banking facility in Colorado Avenue's 3000 block, Ent Credit Union demolished an old car wash and office building in the fall of 2018. (See photo above for "before" photo.)
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    bigger with a drive-through component, will replace that.
           Chestnut/Fillmore - Changes are in progress for two prominent commercial properties facing each other on Chestnut Street along the south side of Fillmore.
           At the southwest corner of the two streets (technically 2970-2990 N. Chestnut St.) will be a 4,200-square-foot strip center. Including a new Subway sandwich restaurant, it will be slightly bigger than the previous center from 1976, which was torn down last year.
           At the southeast corner (technically 755 W. Fillmore St.) will be a new, somewhat larger Waffle House restaurant, replacing the current building from 1974. This demolition/construction is expected in early 2019.
           Fillmore Apartments - After a few months of grading activities, framing started in mid-November on the project by this name.
           The 91 dwelling units will be distributed between two buildings, one with four stories, the other with three, at the southeast corner of West Fillmore Street and Grand Vista Circle.
           The developer, Goodwin Knight (formerly Challenger Homes) expects readiness for occupancy in July or August.
           At neighborhood meetings on the project plans two years ago, concerns had emerged that the building height would be incompatible with the area, a several-square-mile
    The interior of a Gold Hill Mesa model home sports a layout by homebuilder David Weekley.
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    expanse of the Westside known as “the Mesa.”
           Fillmore West - A Best Western Hotel opened and a Mexican-food restaurant was nearing completion at the end of 2018 at this 13-acre retail center north of Fillmore at Chestnut Street.
           The restaurant being built is the third Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Colorado Springs. It is straight across Chestnut Street from the 100-room Best Western, which has 58 hotel rooms and 42 “extended stay” types (kitchenettes).
           Gold Hill Mesa - Construction started on Filings 9 and 10 of Gold Hill Mesa, which has been in development since 2006 on 210 acres east of 21st Street and south of Highway 24. Known as “the rim,” the filings are at the top of what had been the tailings dam for the Golden Cycle gold mill 70-some years ago. Now the home sites there are known for their views.
           According to Gold Hill Mesa land manager Barry Brinton, the development has more than 430 occupied homes (45 of those in 2018), with roughly 650 anticipated at build-out.
           Walnut Street/Mesa Road - Redevelopment has begun for long-neglected, late 19th-century houses on properties totaling about 9 acres off Walnut and Mesa.
           The owner/redeveloper since 2016 has been Carl Bourgeois, a Denver-based business manager with childhood ties to the properties and their former owners.
           7. Land - plans.
           67 acres on Mesa - Denver-area investors calling themselves Pine Valley LLC are putting together plans to build houses on undulating open terrain on the Mesa south of Fillmore Street and west of the Centennial extension.
           The site is significant because it is one of the last large, undeveloped Westside areas. Including an unnamed north-south stream and hills criss-crossed with
    The mountains are in the background, and a mostly hidden transient camp in the foreground on part of the 67 acres on which Pine Valley LLC is contemplating residential construction south of Fillmore Street and west of the Centennial extension.
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    motorbike trails, the land stretches from Fillmore Street near Centennial Boulevard south to the future Van Buren Street, just west of the new Olson Plumbing & Heating complex that's being built off the Centennial extension.
           The property even has "residents" already, in the form of 10 or so unauthorized, makeshift camps at different places along the stream.
           Slow developing - Remember Sentinel Ridge? More than a decade after the first major development proposal under that name (approved in 2009 for up to 88 lots), homebuilding on a smaller scale (11 lots) is getting close for an area of the Mesa off Fillmore Street between Coronado High and Holmes Middle School. Called Sentinel Springs, it could get into the ground by April, developer Mike Woelke said.
           A neighboring new church is also in the works. Needing more space, the First Evangelical Free Church intends to relocate from its current home at 30th and Fontanero streets to the southeast corner of Fillmore and Mesa, just north of Holmes, where it now owns about 15 acres. Concept plans have been prepared, but the church needs a $12 million fundraiser to get to the construction stage.
           Space Foundation - The nonprofit advocate for space research and exploration closed on a purchase that will nearly triple the room for its headquarters and Discovery Center museum/educational attraction in the 4400 block of Arrowswest Drive (off Garden of the Gods Road).
           The purchase (amount unrevealed) was funded through an agreement with the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs, aided by a donation from Grapevine Investments, LLP.
           According to CEO Thomas Zelibor, the main benefit is to “expand and bring even more opportunity to the community and in particular our STEM [acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education mission.”
           Expansion seen - Front Range Barbeque now owns all three late 19th-century houses just west of the former Goodwill building in the 2300 block of Colorado Avenue, which will allow the restaurant to expand, according to owner Brian Fortinberry.
           One of the houses, the westernmost, was converted 19 years ago to start FRBBQ at 2330 W. Colorado Ave. The easternmost was being used as a “welcome center” for visitors by the Old Colorado City Associates before a change in policy last year. Fortinberry said he is thinking about ways to connect the houses, but plans are still in the concept stage.

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