Hill properties sale closing set Feb. 16
New owners gearing up to build 550 homes on master-planned land

       The final closing on the sale of the Hill Development properties is scheduled Feb. 16, Lyda Hill said in an interview this week.
       The new owners will be the Sunrise Company and local developer Tom Schmidt, according to Hill, president of Hill Development and daughter of Al Hill, who first put together the holdings as a three mile by two-mile chunk of the northern Westside more than 50 years ago.
       Included in the sale will be the Garden of the Gods Club, the Kissing Camels Club and hundreds of acres of developed and undeveloped properties in a 1,293-acre master-planned area. The Hill family (or its entities) will retain ownership of the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, Seven Falls and its private residences.
       The sale could have tangible impacts on the Westside by speeding up the pace of home development on the land, which is bounded on the west by 30th Street, goes north nearly to Garden of the Gods Road and includes parcels on either side of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street. A recent newspaper display ad announced: “Sunrise Companies is preparing for the acquisition of the Garden of the Gods/Kissing Camels, involving the development of over 550 homes ranging from $350,000 to $800,000.” The ad asked for job applicants in areas including land planning, land development, residential construction and architectural support.
       “We will be building just homes, and the earliest we would anticipate starting would be in the fall of 2007,” said Sunrise spokesperson Julie Knepp in a recent e-mail exchange.
       The amended Hill Properties Master Plan of 2004 - worked out with City Planning - shows lots approved on about 300 acres, allowing 830 homes or dwelling units, with 245 acres available for 1,860 more. Knepp noted, however, that “we are actually planning to build fewer homes than what is approved already.”
       In addition to homes, other parts of the property are master-planned for current or future office, commercial or industrial use, roads, club, golf course, open space and a drainage detention pond.
       Probably the most visible piece of buildable land is just west of Mesa Road, overlooking the Garden of the Gods, where the city previously approved development of 77 homes, according to James Mayerl of Colorado Springs Planning.
       Other areas projected for homes are six sites within or near the existing gated Kissing Camels development east of Mesa Road and on two sites south of Fillmore Street, the master plan shows.
       Asked about phasing, Knepp indicated that Sunrise is still working that out. “We don't have any phases planned at this time,” she said.
       Asked if she had a feel for the new owners' plans, Hill said, “They will be building all over.”
       A master plan is not the same as a development plan, which details how the construction will occur. Mayerl said that while some lots within Kissing Camels are already platted, “those lots do not represent anything close to 550. The bottom line is yes, you will see a development plan, or two or more, for anything like that.”
       In an article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal when the sale was announced last summer, Hill was quoted as saying that now is “a logical time to transfer ownership. We're about half built-out and we have built a very strong reputation... The sale will benefit the property owners, club members, and the future residents of Kissing Camels - including my family who plans to continue to live here. I figure I'll be here until I'm at least 95, but you've got to move on.”
       Schmidt and Sunrise “were hand-selected by my family to take these properties into the future,” Hill explained in a previous press release. “After considerable research and exploration, we deemed that this team was uniquely qualified to perpetuate the legacy that was my parents' founding vision.”
       “We respect the lengthy history and vast contributions the Hill family has made to the community and are confident that our combined backgrounds, re-sources and steadfast commitment to quality are well suited for the clubs and property into the future,” said Tom Schmidt, founding principal of J. Thomas Schmidt & Co.
       “We are excited to continue our long history of developing and building exclusive country club communities across the Western United States at these two spectacular Clubs,” said Dirk Gosda, president of Sunrise Company's Colorado Region.
       J. Thomas Schmidt & Co. has been involved in Colorado Springs real estate development for the past 34 years, including the 241 single-family homes and sites within a 1,100-acre parcel of land located just south of the Broadmoor Hotel, the release also states.
       For more than 35 years, Sunrise Company has been developing master-planned, golf course communities in the Western United States, including those surrounding courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples.

Westside Pioneer/press release