Panorama Estates starts comeback
About three years ago, residents of Panorama Estates had reason to feel glum about where they lived. Structural and façade issues were cropping up in the roughly
quarter-century-old, 22-unit townhome development at Uintah and Superior streets, and without a common funding source the repair costs seemed insurmountable.
Stormie Wells, who has lived there close to 10 years now, even recalls a friend telling her, “Get out of there.” The fourplex that her unit is part of actually got condemned at one point because her deck was interconnected with someone else's deck that had been found unsafe.
Today, things are looking up at Panorama. Not all the problems have been fixed but many have, plus a sense of community is growing, and property values may even start to rise, said three board members/officers of the property's recently formed volunteer homeowners association (HOA) in a recent interview.
Creating the Panorama Estates HOA itself was a huge step forward, according to Angela Reali, board president; Sean Kute, vice president; and Wells, secretary. It allows dues to be legally invoiced - $83 per unit per month - with the money going for common disaster insurance, trash collection and capital improvements. Having the organization also brings a “consistency” to Panorama, said Kute. “Without an HOA for 20 years, people were doing what they wanted.”
Setting up the insurance prompted a particular sigh of relief from Wells. “Just imagine if we'd had a fire, and what it would have been like with 22 different insurance policies,” she said.
The capital improvements so far have included common light fixtures and house numbers, plus exterior repairs and uniform professional painting on all 22 units. In addition, the city has worked on the Uintah Street erosion problem just west of the complex; installed pedestrian ramps at Uintah and Superior; and plans sidewalk, curb and gutter repair in 2009 and 2010 through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA); also, the U.S. Postal Service is looking at installing updated postal kiosks.
The HOA officers admit they could not have pulled this off without help. They thanked Jan Doran (former president of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations), Scott Hente (city councilman) and David Krall (the HOA lawyer) for their advice and help.
As a side note, the HOA officers wryly pointed out that obtaining mutual agreement on the paint colors was probably harder than forming the HOA (which required approval from 75 percent of the property owners under state law). There were “a few voices that were very loud,” commented Reali - an observation that would doubtless be appreciated by officers of governing boards anywhere.
Despite the accomplishments, the HOA officers express some frustration about how much still needs to be done. The $83 a month, which required convincing of several unit owners, still only brings in about $13,000 a year, meaning it could take 30 years to pay for all the needed and/or desired improvements. “Long term, we have some serious structural issues to address, including replacing front decks and shake shingles,” Wells said. Also, although the buildings themselves appear to be solid, it's become evident that parts of the initial construction was flawed, resulting in some concrete buckling.
Other needs/wants include substituting the common wood paneling with stucco and the wood stairs with steel and concrete, putting in new retaining walls (or, short term, providing maintenance on the existing ones); switching to xeriscape plantings; and installing new driveways and divider structures. The Panorama residents' concern is that “if we do not receive professional design help, we are going to tackle these in an unstructured, inconsistent manner, thus resulting in a less than optimal aesthetic result,” she said.
The HOA's hope is to attract the services of an architectural student who, for a school project, might work up façade designs and functional improvements at minimal cost to the association.
Westside Pioneer article