Historic-overlay grant awarded
Work will create guidelines for proposed older-Westside zone
A proposed historic overlay zone to include about 3,6000 older-Westside homes got a boost this week with the news that the State Historic Fund has approved a
city grant request for $18,031.
The money, matched by $19,652 from City Planning, will pay for the creation of design guidelines which - if they pass public muster - could be used by the zone's property owners to help them remodel homes that are at least a half-century old.
The city help had been requested by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) after its similar grant request to the state had been rejected a year and a half ago. The city-recognized advocacy group had worked out a contract agreement with a local architect experienced in historical projects to do the guidelines, but lacked the money to pay him.
With the grant, the tentative schedule calls for the architect, Al Feinstein, to have the guidelines ready for review by the end of the year, after which there would be public meetings to discuss them.
“You're d-- right I'm pleased with it,” said Dave Hughes, the OWN treasurer who had gone before council in recent months and gained a consensus in support of the overlay concept. “The value of the Westside is its history.”
He credited Tim Scanlon, the city's historic preservation planner, for doing a good job writing the grant. “He also put in extra effort,” Hughes noted. “At the last minute, he ran around and took pictures of selected houses to show a range of stuff.”
Scanlon listed two key reasons he believed the state agreed to the grant. One reason was the relatively large match (51 percent of the total) that the city put up. The other was “the visibility of the project,” he said. “Numerous people will be aware of it, and if it's done correctly, it will lead to a greater appreciation of historical properties and their neighborhoods.”
On the other hand, he added, “it requires a leap of faith on the part of the fund. I think they still feel this is an ambitious project. It has the potential to be seven times the size of the North End (which some thought was too big when it first was approved for historic preservation).”
Hughes and other OWN members have become concerned about a gradual attrition of historically noteworthy properties and believe that the volunteer plan they propose - different from the North End's mandatory version - will reverse that trend by providing tax incentives for restoration. The guidelines could even be used by the city to help developers be compatible with existing homes when they do infill projects, Hughes said.
Because of the need to finalize contracts - including formal council approval of the city's grant-related contract with the state - Feinstein is not expected to get started until about Aug. 1. That will also give OWN volunteers time to finish entering spreadsheet information for each of the properties, based on photos that were shot of them two years ago, Hughes said. The photography effort, costing $4,000, was covered by OWN and the Old Colorado City Historical Society.
The proposed overlay area is roughly bounded by I-25 on the east, Highway 24 on the south, 31st Street on the west and Uintah Street on the north.
Public meetings on the guidelines will be held next year. The final decision on the overlay and its guidelines would have to be made by Colorado Springs City Council.
Westside Pioneer article