Pioneer's picks for top 20 Westside stories of 2015 - numbers 1-7Editor'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.
The Westside's past year featured numerous upbeat events and endeavors… and one mass-shooting that left three dead.
While it's impossible to ignore that horrific incident in November, the Westside Pioneer preference is to not let one cowardly incident define 2015 by giving it the top position in our Westside Stories of the Year.
That honor instead goes in a dead heat to the I-25 interchange projects at Cimarron and Fillmore streets, both of which are designed to improve east-west traffic flow in their respective corridors.
1. (tie) Cimarron interchange and Fillmore interchange at I-25. Both started in 2015 (Fillmore in February, Cimarron in May) and have been in full swing since last summer.
At the end of 2015:
- Fillmore's two new bridges were built, although the north bridge can't be opened to traffic until there's a stretch of spring-like warm weather to allow the final paving. Other major work still to come is demolishing the remainder of the original bridge from about 1960 - half of which was cut lengthwise last fall to
- Cimarron crews are reworking Fountain Creek between Monument Creek and Eighth Street, rebuilding project-affected trails, developing a new southbound off-ramp, clearing space to the west for the wider new interchange and leveling the one-time hotel site southeast of Cimarron/ Eighth in preparation for a “shortcut” to allow some traffic to bypass that intersection. Overall project completion is planned in December 2017.
3. The shooting. For more than five hours on snowy Nov. 27, a single man with a rifle terrorized the Planned Parenthood building in the commercial/office center off Centennial Boulevard, north of Fillmore Street.
According to authorities, Robert Dear's first shots were fired at people in the building, then at law enforcement officers who entered the building to stop him. By the time Dear was taken alive, he had killed one officer (Garrett Swasey of the UCCS Police) and two citizens (Jennifer Markovsky and Ke'Arre Stewart). The onslaught also resulted in gunshot wounds to five other officers and four civilians, plus non-gunshot injuries to three additional officers. All are recovering. Dear has been charged with murder, but no trial date has been set. Based on court actions, a key issue to be resolved is Dear's competency to stand trial.
4. Chestnut Street bridge collapse. On Aug. 10, a hole appeared in the street's northbound lane. Within hours, as the gap spread across both lanes, the city shut down Chestnut at that location (just north of Vondelpark Drive). The street remains closed there and is expected to stay that way until October, by which time repairs are to be completed. The problem occurred because technically Chestnut is a bridge at that location, with the road on top of 30 feet of compacted dirt over a failing pipe that was carrying
5. Penrose-St. Francis plan. City Council voted in November to greenlight a large, new Penrose-St. Francis hospital complex on Centennial Boulevard, north of Fillmore Street, across from the commercial center that includes King Soopers. No development is expected for a few years, but the Centennial hospital will eventually take over the acute-care responsibility from Penrose's North Cascade Avenue hospital… and change the skyline on that part of the Mesa. For the Westside Pioneer coverage of the council-approval meeting, go to the link titled "Despite height concerns, City Council greenlights Penrose-St. Francis hospital proposal on Centennial."
6. Land - construction. A Westside construction/remodeling spree was noted in our 2014 Stories of the Year, and it continued through 2015. Here are the most prominent projects:
Mt. Carmel - Although exterior enhancements are continuing, various military-veteran services/programs began being offered by the privately sponsored Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence in 2015 as a result of extensive renovations inside the 16,000-square-foot, two-story building at 530 Communication Circle.
Mainstreet project - Completion is expected by February on this transitional care/assisted living facility on Fillmore Street across from Coronado High School. When the 84,000-square-foot, two-story complex opens, the operator will be the Ensign Group, which offers similar care in several states. Development of the 7.6-acre site has been under way since late 2014.
Humane Society addition - Work started in June on a two-story, 13,145-square-foot addition at the north end of the current building at 610 Abbott Lane (off South Eighth Street). Completion is anticipated by summer 2016. The space will provide additional dog kennels, a cat adoption area and increased admissions space.
Gold Hill Mesa - Close to 300 homes have been built over the past 10 years in the 210-acre development off 21st Street, Highway 24 and Lower Gold Camp Road, with most
Woodspring Suites - a 124-unit “extended-stay” hotel at 3350 N. Chestnut St., opened in August. With kitchens in every unit, the facility encourages tenants who rent for longer periods than just a night.
7. Land - developments to come.
Cerberus Brewing Company - With City Council's rezoning approval in September, Cerberus owners plan to renovate this year a vacant building (a former animal hospital) into a brewpub on a currently unused 9,250-square-foot property at 702 W. Colorado Ave.
Calvary Worship Center expansion - City Council overruled Planning Commission, giving the growing Westside church the necessary zoning to move forward with a major expansion on its 5˝ acre property off King and 30th streets. The announced Phase 1 was to create a new parking lot just east of the main site, above Wilhelmia and Williamette avenues, but this could change, a spokesperson said. No start date has been set.
22 Spruce Apartments - A 46-unit, four-story apartment complex is proposed on a currently unused half-acre rectangle of property on the west side of Spruce Street between Pikes Peak Avenue and Kiowa Street. A public hearing is scheduled before the City Planning Commission Jan. 21.
“Knoll” property - A roughly 60-foot-high, flat-topped knoll near the top of Fillmore Hill could be reduced to half its height sometime in the future, should plans for office development there come to fruition. The 10.8-acre site is west of Centennial Boulevard, across from the Lindstrom Veterans Clinic. The city approved the necessary zone change in 2015. No development is currently planned, according to a member of the ownership group.
Westside Pioneer article