‘Victory’ for neighbors as 7th Street access plan dropped

       Seventh Street will cease to be a worry for the West Bluff neighborhood, based on a recent submittal by the Shoppes at Bear Creek commercial center's ownership group to the Colorado Springs Land Use Review office.

A printout of an Assessor's Office parcel map shows the Seventh Street right of way and how the built street stops now at the alley. Edits identify the properties next to the unbuilt right of way.
Courtesy of Assessor’s Office

       The group, Bear Creek Shops LLC, is asking the city to vacate the Seventh Street right of way where it comes between the center's property (on the west) and a parcel owned by Union Cucharras Properties LLC (on the east).
       If approved, each LLC would receive half of the right of way, and it could not become a public street.
       The 2.4-acre property is at the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Highway 24. The Seventh Street right of way goes along the site's eastern edge
       “By all initial indications, this appears to be a victory for neighborhoods and public safety,” commented Sean Chambers, a West Bluff resident who has represented the neighborhood as plans for the Shoppes' development have come forward over the past three years.
       The neighborhood is just north of the center. The finished part of Seventh Street goes between Colorado Avenue and its terminus at the alley just north of the center.
       A previous property owner had redeveloped the Shoppes property from a standalone restaurant site to a 10,000-square-foot center with three businesses, including a 7-Eleven with gas pumps. But the neighborhood has been concerned about a follow-up proposal to add a same-size commercial building along with access from the center's parking lot to Seventh Street.
       The previous owner (LandCo, under the name of Shoppes LLC) lost the property to foreclosure a year ago.
       The new ownership LLC is headed by Richard Blaha, who in an interview described himself as a “businessman” but “not a developer.” He said he believes the second building can still go in, but there is ample room in the parking lot - aided by the land from the street vacation - for bigger vehicles to turn around without needing the second access that Seventh Street would have provided.
       Also, he said, because the center sits more than 10 feet below Seventh Street, extensive earth work would be necessary to connect a street up to it at a grade that isn't too steep. Not only would such work be expensive but the necessary embankment for the street would take up a sizeable portion of the center property.

A photo from the center parking lot shows the height difference. The built street intersects the alley roughly between the two trees near the wall.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Thus, the vacation request “is what's best for the community and best for the city,” Blaha said. “Everyone at this point seems pleased.”
       He added that his group is working with Union Cucharras Properties LLC to subdivide between them the right of way, which totals 8,384 square feet.
       Mike Schultz of City Land Use Review said in an e-mail that “at this time staff does not see any reason not to support the request and to retain the right-of-way; the likelihood of a public road being constructed is highly unlikely [and there] does not appear to be any need for a future street connection. The city and Utilities will retain a drainage and utility easement over either a portion or all of the right of way (depending on existing utilities and the easement widths needed) as part of the condition of approval.”

Westside Pioneer article