Unused: Book once co-funded by state/city as Westside historic preservation guide
Titled the “Historic Westside Design Guidelines,” the 127-page illustrated document resulted from a joint effort of Colorado Springs Planning, the State Historical Fund, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) and the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS).
The city and state each spent $20,000 on the book project, not counting staff time, with a total of 350 copies printed. Leading up to that, in 2005, OWN and OCCHS contributed about $2,000 each to fund individual photographs of nearly 4,000 older homes in an older Westside area generally bounded by Highway 24, 31st Street, Uintah Street and I-25 (see map at bottom of this page).
Using the photos, the two volunteer groups also devoted scores of hours cataloging data on each of those homes - a spreadsheet that wound up in the Guidelines as a 34-page insert.
Along with background on Westside architecture - how, where and when it occurred, up to nearly 1960 - the book provides illustrated details for restoring exterior features including porches, roofs, windows, doors, trim and fencing in keeping with styles such as Craftsman, Dutch Colonial Revival, Edwardian, Italianate, Late Victorian and Queen Anne.
As for new homes, the Guidelines intent was to give builders a sense of “the rhythm and style of the neighborhood,” said chief author Steve Obering in 2010. A
But in the seven years since the Guidelines appeared, it has had no measurable impact. The city doesn't reference it “in conversations with developers or remodelers,” responded Hannah Van Nimwegen of Colorado Springs Planning to a Westside Pioneer inquiry, elaborating that “staff as a matter of policy does not use the document (even for informational purposes) since it has not been formally accepted by the City Council.”
Nor has there been an evident influence on people who own old homes. The city has not received a single request since 2009 to historically zone any property on the Westside, according to research by Van Nimwegen,
Regarding new construction, random observations by Westside Pioneer staff have revealed multiple infill projects around the Westside (not necessarily in the area defined in the map below) where the product does not match the architecture of the older neighborhoods they're in.
The writing of the Guidelines was part of a decade-long quest, spearheaded by OWN, to create a historic overlay zone for the Westside. The thinking was that preserving its historic architecture was important to its charm and its economic value - for residents as well as tourists.
The overlay effort was abandoned in 2013, partly because the city's historical planner got laid off and partly because of a disagreement - continuing over several years - between the city and OWN about how the overlay should work.
OWN wanted an overlay that was not a formal zone but would let its property owners be eligible for state tax incentives if they did historically qualifying façade work. But city staffers insisted (and still do) that legal zoning, such as
The dispute became somewhat of a moot point when the state defunded the incentive program.
Later in 2013, OWN members talked about a program to reward property owners for historically minded projects by giving them plaques or certificates.
Asked about the situation as a whole recently, OWN President Welling Clark said his group cites the Guidelines book whenever the city asks for OWN input on land development. As for OWN's 2013 reward concept, he said that hasn't come together, but he planned to talk to board members about it.
Book copies were given away free. But it's not clear how many are left. Of the original 350, about 50 were handed out to project participants and attendees at three public meetings led by Obering in early 2010. Another 50 were dropped off at the Old Colorado City History Center and 50 more
A recent check found only a handful remaining at the History Center. No one at the Community Center recalled the books ever being there. An unknown number are at City Hall. However, copies are available online on the city's website at this link.
The Pioneer's exchange with Van Nimwegen started when she pointed out that the city was urging a developer to install bike racks in an unrelated Westside commercial land development project - even though (like the Guidelines) they're not part of city code.
She replied in an e-mail that “the review criteria for development plans (the criteria we base our decisions off of, which are codified) can be interpreted to include providing bike facilities.” But
Van Nimwegen did offer some hope for the Guidelines book getting dusted off someday. She said the city is beginning steps to update its 23-year-old Historic Preservation Plan, and she believes the eventual product “would include those guidelines in the future.”
Westside Pioneer article