Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2017: numbers 8-14Editor's note: The article about story numbers 1-7 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 15-20 and honorable mention at this link.
8. Garden of the Gods plans. Although the city's quick removal of the “blue frame” at High Point drew the most publicity, three significant long-term changes at the Garden of the Gods were quietly being planned in 2017 through Colorado Springs Parks.
All are in response to the free-access locale's increasing popularity, with visitation estimated now at 4 million people a year.
Shuttle service - A conceptual scenario would have visitors parking in designated lots, probably just in the warmer months, then being transported through the Garden on buses. If designed effectively, the service could “alleviate congestion, improve emissions, enhance access and provide a better visitor experience to Garden of the Gods Park,” a City Parks statement reads. Public meetings are anticipated in 2018.
Gates - Metal swinging gates were installed in 2017 on all the roadways into the Garden, except the main one at Gateway Road, which is still under design. There is no schedule yet for implementing the city's overall plan, which is to provide the capability to close the park to cars overnight, when maintenance is needed or during special events.
Restrooms - After a public process in the fall, the Colorado Springs Parks Advisory Board approved a staff plan to expand restroom facilities in the Garden. Although funding is an issue, the intent is to start by building a larger replacement for the current building at the heavily used North Main Parking Lot. Currently it is the only year-round restroom in the entire park, with another open only seasonally.
9. 2C on the Westside. Contractors paved parts of seven principal Westside roadways under Colorado Springs' 2C “road tax” program in 2017.
Paved in 2017 were the following:
- 21st Street from Broadway to Cimarron.
- 26th Street from Colorado Avenue to Lower Gold Camp Road.
- Bear Creek Road from Lower Gold Camp Road to Gold Camp Road.
- King Street from 30th Street to 19th Street.
Lower Gold Camp Road from 21st Street to 26th Street.
Naegele Road from 21st Street to 25th Street bridge.
- Uintah Street from Mesa Road to 30th Street.
The 26th and Uintah projects included restriping for bike lanes. To make room on 26th Street, the city widened the road for a block and a half across from Fairview Cemetery and eliminated about 30 on-street parking spaces between Robinson Street and Westend Avenue.
On Uintah, sharrow symbols (to show that cyclists are allowed but there isn't space to give them lanes) were also imprinted between 17th and 30th streets.
Looking ahead to 2018, two segments of 21st Street and parts of four other Westside streets (24th, Chestnut, Walnut and Gold Camp Road) are scheduled.
2C is the name of the city-sponsored ballot measure that voters approved in the November 2015 election. It established a .62 percent sales tax over a five-year span (2016-2020), with funds dedicated to concrete upgrades (as needed) and paving.
10. Car show. After the 25th Good Times Car Show on the third Sunday of August 2016, its volunteer organizers announced that it was the last. City costs had made the annual Old Colorado City event too expensive.
Along came Ace Cosley. A business owner and classic-car owner who does event promotions on the side, he believed he could find enough
11. Westside commerce. 2017 saw a plethora of significant business doings on the Westside.
The sale of Pikes Peak National Bank, announced in May, was still awaiting final federal approval at the end of 2017. The buyer-to-be is Antoun Sehnaoui of Beirut, Lebanon.
PPNB was started by Westside business leaders 60 years ago.
A benefit of the sale will be additional banking services and increased capital to allow expanded operations, according to the Sehnaoui group.
Otherwise, “everything will still be the same” for bank customers, said current co-owner and CEO John Georgeson...
Koscove Metal celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2017. Still within the same family that started it, the recycling business has been at 431 W. Colorado Ave. for about half of that century. Current owner Joe Koscove has run the operation since buying out his father Jack and uncle Marvin in 2003…
Pub Dog opened in April at 2213 Bott Ave. The brewpub was the first dining establishment in Colorado to legally allow people to eat out with their
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) joined the long-time Waffle House in providing “syrup synergy” at the intersection of Fillmore and Chestnut streets. The IHOP is the second business - after Kum & Go in 2014 - in the 13-acre Fillmore West Retail Center development northwest of the Fillmore/I-25 interchange...
A third business is nearly ready for operations at Fillmore West. It's a four-story, 100-room Best Western hotel that was in its final construction stages at the end of 2017…
The 7-Eleven at 1011 S. 21st St. shut down between May and December so the old building could be demolished and a replacement store built on the same site. It's a convenience store with gas pumps, like before. But it does offer something the old one didn't: landscaping…
The $10 million International Health and Wellness Center (IHWC) at 3314 Mesa Road had its ribbon-cutting in June. Open to the public, it's part of the Garden of the Gods Collection, a luxury resort and properties off Mesa Road, formerly known as the Garden of the Gods Club…
The club also invested in a development project just behind the Wellness Center, at Mesa Road and Kissing Camels Drive, consisting of 17 single-family residential lots, 20 casitas (small houses) on their own lots, relocated tennis courts and a new outdoor pool…
The 22-year-old Albertsons grocery store in the West Wind shopping center, 4405 Centennial Blvd., was rebranded as a Safeway in 2017. A Safeway spokesperson said no major service or product changes were planned…
Agia Sophia, a coffee house started in 2006 by the Westside's Saints Constantine & Helen Orthodox Church, closed. Over a century ago, the structure had been the former city hall for Colorado City at 2902 W. Colorado Ave.
The two-story locale had been unique for its lounge space upstairs and large selection of books (many about the Orthodox faith), for customer perusal.
12. Old Colorado City. The Westside's downtown presented various news topics in 2017:
- Police presence. Working out of the Old Colorado City Special Improvement Maintenance District (SIMD) building now are the two Westside officers on the Colorado Springs Police Department's DART (Downtown Area Response Team). They often walk a beat or use bicycles to cover OCC and the Colorado Avenue corridor.
- OCC traffic study. A city-contracted traffic study of Colorado Avenue between 21st and 31st streets - focusing particularly on OCC between 24th and 27th - produced more questions than answers. The study looked into necking the roadway down to one lane each way and/or expanding the sidewalks, but found no consensus among businesses or residents.
- Special events. The Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group sponsors special events annually and reported strong turnouts for the Mad Hatter in March, Taste of OCC - a Bancroft Park fundraiser through its Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF) - in April, Territory Days in May, Giant Pumpkins in October and Christmas Stroll after Thanksgiving. (The Safe Treats Halloween event is
- Seasonal displays. If Old Colorado City looked a bit brighter during the holiday season, it wasn't by accident. The OCCF started a grant program offering to pay $50 of the utility bill for any merchant agreeing to put up Christmas lights outside their stores…
13. Land - construction.
- Gold Hill Mesa. The largest development on the Westside is nearing residential build-out with Filings 9 and 10 atop the old tailings dam. See article at this link.
- Uintah Bluffs. With houses finally being built this year in the Uintah Bluffs subdivision, developer Matt Craddock commented that “they look even better than I imagined.”
“There was a lot of sweat, a lot of tears and lot more money than we ever expected to spend,” he added. “But it's worth it.”
The 31-lot project takes in the north and west portions of an otherwise undeveloped 13-acre hilltop plateau, accessible by a new public street off Manitou Boulevard that was part of the project.
Craddock acquired the property in 2005, originally considering apartment units, then townhomes before settling on single-family about two years ago. Issues along the way included the steep terrain and drainage control.
- Sacred Heart. February is when completion is expected for major improvements to the church and areas around it. The exterior work involves a new roof, stucco and paint on the church building and elimination of the narrow alley behind it;
- Walnut Street/Mesa Road. Properties/houses with long histories are being renovated by Carl Bourgeois, who's known for revitalization work in Denver.
He had a contractor pull building permits for 1065 Mesa Road (opposite Bristol Park), which has an 1895 house on 4.1 acres surrounded by a low stone wall; and at 944 N. Walnut St., which has an 1899 two-story house on just under a quarter-acre.
According to a 2015 article by Bill Vogrin in the Gazette's Side Streets column, the properties had been owned for some 60 years by members of the Llewellyn family, and they were not well maintained.
Bourgeois, who could not be reached despite numerous messages left at his Denver business number, also bought two other nearby properties from the Llewellyns in 2016 - a 1900 house on 1.68 acres at 1012 Cooper Ave. and 2.66 acres off Mesa Road. The total of cost for all the properties was $1,115,000, according to the El Paso County Assessor's Office.
- Spruce Apartments. This residential project was under construction but not quite ready for use at the end of 2017. Including an elevator, it is a 46-unit, four-story apartment complex on the west side of Spruce Street between Pikes Peak Avenue and Kiowa Street...
- Hospital on the Mesa. The tallest building in the future Penrose-St. Francis Health Services hospital complex on the Mesa will be no more than 165 feet high. This was the result of City Council in May approving a revised project concept plan including that height limit - reduced from the original 200 feet - for the future facility northeast of the intersection of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street.
In addition to height, the council vote lets 28 adjacent acres - purchased by P-SF in August - be added to the 51-acre project area that the elected body initially approved in 2015. The new acreage had been used for many years as an asphalt batch plant, most recently Martin-Marietta (which has relocated elsewhere in the city).
Going into 2018, Penrose-St. Francis had not yet submitted any development plans, which would be necessary before construction can begin.
- Fillmore Apartments. After a zone change and concept plan approval from City Council, Challenger Homes submitted a development plan to the city for a 91-unit apartment complex on 5 acres at the southeast corner of West Fillmore Street and Grand Vista Circle, in an area of the Westside known as “the Mesa.”
The submittal can be approved administratively; however, Challenger has agreed to work with Mesa residents concerned about density, design, height, landscaping and other details.
Westside Pioneer article