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A sea of rooftops meets the eye in a view this month over Gold Hill Mesa from the upper part of 21st Street. The smokestack is in the background at left, downtown Colorado Springs at far right. The major Westside subdivision now has about 430 occupied homes. This photo can be compared with the one below from nearly the same vantage point 13 years earlier.
Westside Pioneer photo
In this view from 2006 (from a similar 21st Street vantage point as the photo above), no homes have been built. The only subdivision is the Villa de Mesa townhomes, which were built in the 1970s.
Westside Pioneer file photo

Gold Hill Mesa smokestack climbers were inspecting it for long-term stability

One inspector from Continental Chimney and Engineering (top) is atop the Gold Hill Mesa smokestack while a second climbs down the ladder Jan. 14.
Westside Pioneer photo
Jan. 21, 2019
       It wasn't Spiderman. Or any of his friends from the Marvel Universe.
       Then who was scaling the side of Gold Hill Mesa's historic smokestack from Jan. 12 to 14?
       According to Stephanie Edwards, representing the major Westside development's ownership group, the climbers were contracted inspectors with Continental Chimney and Engineering of New Jersey. Continental's job was (and is) “to evaluate the stability and structural integrity of the chimney as we begin preparing the site for the commercial area,” she said, adding that the inspectors also “will identify and document the existing conditions of the structure, inside and out.”
       A detailed analysis is still several weeks off, but the initial feedback from Continental is there is no evident public safety hazard with the painted brick structure and “no immediate urgency” to take it down, she related.
       However, Edwards cautioned that many questions still remain, including how much maintenance it needs now and whether the long-term cost of retaining the structure is worth it.
       “We have to think about the next century and how to take care of it in perpetuity,” she said. “We're trying to be real cautious and not make any promises.”
       Rising some 30 feet above the ground, the smokestack is the last visible reminder of when the Golden Cycles plant operated on the property south of present-day Highway 24 and east of 21st Street, milling the gold that was brought down by train from Cripple Creek mines. The Gold Hill Mesa website puts the mill's time frame as 1905 to 1949.
       The inspectors brought ladder sections up with them singly, placing one on top of the other against the side of the smokestack until they reached the top. They
A closeup from the same angle as the photo above shows an inspector at the top of the stack, looking down inside.
Westside Pioneer photo
took the ladder down when they were done.
       Ever since the site was envisioned for a residential and commercial subdivision about 20 years ago, the stack has been integrated into the plans as a unique symbol of the 210 acre property's colorful past. A plan from 2012, which never got past the concept stage, showed it as the focal point of a commercial/arts plaza that would be a hub for several neighborhood streets.
       The smokestack's location is within the commercially zoned 60-some acres in the northwest part of the Gold Hill site. No construction has occurred there yet, nor have any businesses committed to moving in; however, Edwards says that discussions are ongoing, with more companies than in the past showing interest in Gold Hill's commercial model calling for business with smaller “footprints.”
       This interest is what spurred the development's owners into having the smokestack inspected now. “We're kind of on pins and needles, waiting for the report,” Edwards said.

Westside Pioneer article
(Land: Development Issues)

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For the fun of it, Stephanie Edwards of Gold Hill Mesa photoshopped a popular superhero into this shot of a contracted inspector on a ladder on the side of the development's smokestack,
Courtesy of Stephanie Edwards