Solo house at 31st & Colo. to get upgrade, may become dispensary

       In 1909, when a little bungalow was built at 3044 W. Colorado Ave., it was beside a lightly populated dirt road, and 31st Street didn't even go through.

Built in 1909 (according to the Assessor's Office), the house at 3044 W. Colorado is next door to Independent Records, whose ownership bought the house nine years ago. The busy intersection with 31st Street is just out of view to the left. Also near or next to the house are parking lots for two restaurants.
Westside Pioneer photo

       In the years that followed, other old buildings around 3044 disappeared. But the 713-square-foot house remained, and within the past few decades it has become a lingering anachronism, surrounded by modern commercial development and an ever-busier intersection at 31st and Colorado.
       That look is not due to change anytime soon. A development plan for the house, recently submitted to the city, calls for retaining the building while upgrading it and converting its use from residential to retail.
       What kind of retail? Lewis Lambert is a longtime co-owner of Independent Records & Video, which had opened a shop in the commercial building next door at 3040 W. Colorado Ave. in 1999. In an interview this week, he said a final decision has not been made about 3044, but turning it into a site for a medical marijuana dispensary and related product-manufacturing is a “possibility among possibilities.”
       The business has applied for city licenses for both those uses at the 3044 address, at a cost of $500 apiece, city records show. And the proposed business name, “Indispensary,” appears as a large banner in one of the house's windows.
       City records also show that Independent Records has applied for Indispensary licenses at or near its other Colorado Springs shops (one downtown and the other on East Platte Avenue). The 32-year-old local chain, which has traditionally sold smoking accessories in addition to music and audio items, has submitted a total of of nine medical marijuana applications with the city. Three of these are for cultivation (the addresses of which the city keeps confidential for security reasons).
       However, aware of the current lack of precise state and city regulations - along with a possible November city election initiative to ban dispensaries - Lambert said “we have other uses we can do” at 3044 or at Independent's other two shops. But if dispensaries are allowed to continue in Colorado Springs, “we're feeling pretty confident about it” as a business opportunity, he said.
       Meanwhile, work has already started to spruce up the house. Lambert said a building permit has been pulled and a contractor hired. Work will include a new coat of exterior paint, four parking spaces in back, extensive landscaping and removal of the chain link/barb wire fence which had been installed around the house by the residents before Independent Records bought it in 2001.
       The previous residents of the house were Frank and Ethel Benson. Lambert said they had lived there 35 years. A common sight during that era were pink flamingos in the front yard. “You'd be surprised how many people remember those pink flamingos,” Lambert said. He recalled that Frank was a retired Army master sergeant who decided to sell after Ethel died and his new wife didn't want to live there.
       Nancy Orner, who lives nearby on Pikes Peak Avenue, said she got to know Frank and Ethel, when they would walk their dog by her house. “They were such nice people,” she said.
       Independent Records has long planned to use the 3044 property for some type of commercial. Lambert had talked about it in a 2006 interview with the Westside Pioneer - considering at the time relocating the house to allow a new building on the corner site. The zoning is already C-5 (which allows commercial uses).
       Lambert said the business decided to keep the house because of its historical appeal. “it's a beautiful little building,” he said. Any restoration, including the paint color, will be in keeping with the structure's historical character, he added. Even the retail signage will be only about 4 by 6 feet, although the C-5 zoning would actually permit something the size of a “billboard,” Lambert said.
       The submittal to the city (which is in the name of contractor Becker Johnson, Inc.), includes a Project Statement explaining that, “in order to make the property compatible with the surrounding uses, it is being converted from residential to retail in conformance with the zoning and building codes.” The Statement adds that “the upgrade of the structure will improve the neighborhood and improve the tax base of the community.”
       The city is taking comments from the public on the development plan through Aug. 6. According to city planner Steve Tuck, the submittal can be approved administratively because there is no zone change. For more information, call Tuck at 385-5366 or e-mail stuck@springsgov.com.

Westside Pioneer article