Cedar Heights: Roads in, lots shaped on one of last large Westside parcels

       One of the Westside's last undeveloped areas of any size is being readied for homes in an area that most people will never see, unless they squint up the hill above the current Cedar Heights and catch the glimpse of a bulldozer at about 8,000 feet.

Larry Nichols stands on the highest Outback lot, next to the boundary line with Pike National Forest.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But at least they can take comfort that the 21 lots on the 75-acre property known as the Outback are destined for homes with minimal impact on the natural setting (next to Pike National
       Forest), that they have been shaped by experienced area developers Larry Nichols and Claude Comito, and that the Outback plan has been smiled upon by existing residents in the Cedar Heights Homeowners Association (HOA).
       “It's a beautiful piece of property,” Nichols said in a recent site visit. “It's the last parcel between here and Fort Carson that wasn't already being developed.”
       First approved by the city in the early 1980s - the original developer was Chuck Helenberg - the nearly 1,000-acre Cedar Heights has gradually built up over the years until today there are 175 residences (mostly single-family, custom-built homes) spread out along private, paved streets that curve across the hillside. Access is from Black Canyon Road, which forks off Garden Drive just outside the Garden of the Gods near Manitou Springs. The road goes past the sales office at 2001 Black Canyon Road and through the security gate, then winds up the hill into the subdivision.
       The Outback's lots range in size from just under 1 acre to 6.49 acres, with asking prices from $298,000 to $599,000 (also the highest lot in elevation). Nichols said he is glad to have larger lots to work with, because that allows room in the hilly terrain to locate suitable building pads.
       Extending up from the existing subdivision, the roads past the Outback's 21 lots were paved this month. Seven are already sold.

A fire hydrant is a possibly unexpected sight in a development at about 8,000-foot elevation. But with its own water tank above the subdivision (a result of the original 1980s plan), Cedar Heights is able to provide water pressure to the Outback subdivision and its hydrants.
Westside Pioneer photo

One of the 21 lot identification posts in the Outback subdivision.
Westside Pioneer photo

       According to Nichols, in creating custom homes, lot-owners typically work with the builder on detailed aspects of the design, taking into consideration lifestyles, personal desires and budget. At the same time, while the idea is not to be overly restrictive on design, the Cedar Heights Homeowners Association (HOA) has certain covenants on style and landscaping, and the developers themselves “want homes that are friendly to the environment, not something that stands out starkly and becomes obtrusive,” he said.
       Comito and Nichols have been development partners since 1996, with previous projects including the Cheyenne area's 58-lot Stratton Preserve,which, like Outback, is on a parcel bordering public open space. Nichols (either alone or with Comito) has built 11 houses since starting his local development career in 1981 that have been selected for the local Homebuilders Association's Parade of Homes.
       Because of a lawsuit (settled out of court) with a previous developer, activity on the upper parcels at Cedar Heights was put off for about six years, until about 2006. So it was good news after the settlement when Nichols/Comito offered to take over the development, according to Ben Kuckel, a resident since 1998 who was HOA president for the past four years (ending last March). “The members were tickled pink to have someone like Nichols and Comito coming in,” Kuckel said. “They have a great reputation.”
       The lawsuit agreement had finalized the layouts of Outback, as well as the other upper parcel, the 49-acre, Placer Park Ridge. Nichols/Comito developed the 28 lots and road system on Placer before moving over to Outback.
       Also resulting from the agreement was the creation of a 300-acre private open space area called Solitude Park, along with 5-acre Echo Canyon Park, between the two parcels.

Westside Pioneer article