Years later, plans for homes, church moving forward at former Sentinel RidgeDec. 28, 2018
Though it may seem like construction is occurring everywhere all the time on the Westside, the reality is it can take many years to happen in one place or another.
A prime example is an area of about 40 acres south of Fillmore Street, between Mesa Road and Grand Vista Circle, across from Coronado High School.
It was in 2007 that an entity called the Garden of the Gods Club LLC submitted a plan to the city for houses there. But as 2019 arrives,
It hasn't been for lack of effort. Twice (2009 and 2014), City Council approved plans from the LLC for what was then called Sentinel Ridge.
But the only building construction that resulted was the Health Care Resort (HCR) of Colorado Springs, a physical rehabilitation and assisted living campus that opened in 2016 on 7.7 acres at Fillmore and Grand Vista.
The only other work has been the installation of a long, east-west wastewater line, which Colorado Springs Utilities had deemed necessary to service the planned growth south of Fillmore. To hide it across a drainage swale, a roughly 30-foot-high, earthen berm was shaped. A culvert at the base of the berm carries any flow from the swale's intermittent stream. The berm is wide enough that a private road now goes over it.
The Garden of the Gods Club LLC has sold the land it owned for the development. And it's no longer known as Sentinel Ridge.
One carryover from the 2014 approval is the continued intent of First Evangelical Free Church to relocate from 30th and Fontanero streets to the southeast corner of Fillmore and Mesa, just north of Holmes Middle School.
Originally, the church had planned its new home solely on an 8.4-acre parcel right at the corner; but two parcels just to the east (formerly part of Sentinel Ridge and totaling 6.8 acres) later became available. The church bought them too, and plans to use the land for a water quality detention pond and private open space, according to Don Wilkin, the church's designated spokesperson.
These two parcels additionally provide a buffer from the HCR facility, as well as from a new subdivision proposed by Woelke Land Company LLC on 8.7 acres
Both First Evangelical and Woelke submitted development plans for city review in 2018.
It appears that the subdivision will be the first to get into the ground. Mike Woelke, a homebuilder who also owns Garden of the Gods Homes, said he anticipates obtaining the necessary government approvals in time to start building in April. They will be single-family homes, with a price range in the “mid- to high 400s,” he said.
Woelke is the former vice president of construction for the Sunrise Company, which had intially planned Sentinel Ridge; he is also the homebuilder for the Cathedral Ridge subdivision (about a mile away, on the west side of Mesa Road, south of Kissing Camels).
For his new subdivision, Woelke has retained part of the original development name, calling it “Sentinel Springs.” His initial submittal to City Planning suggests 11 lots, although he said the final version could have one or two more.
Encouragingly, Woelke said he already has reservations on five of the lots.
By comparison, had the original Sentinel Ridge plan from 2009 been built as approved, up to 88 houses would have been allowed in that area south of Fillmore.
For First Evangelical, construction is less imminent than for Sentinel Springs. According to Wilkin, the estimated build-out cost is $12 million, which will require a fundraising drive that's just getting started. "We would not turn down
To get to this point, the church was able to raise the money to buy the property ($1.4 million) and then to fund the creation of a development plan. The last step before development is construction drawings. But that will have to wait for the new fundraiser. “Our belief is, if this is God's plan and we believe it is, he'll provide the money - though maybe not tomorrow,” Wilkin said.
First Evangelical has existed since 1890, with the past 70 years on the Westside. Its congregation, numbering in the hundreds, has been talking about a move for 30-some years, he said.
Lack of space is the main issue. He specifically noted the limited parking and tight accommodations for children's facilities, youth ministry, fellowship and worship at the current address. “We're thriving where we are, but we're limited by functional and physical things,” Wilkin summarized.
The Fillmore/Mesa site will provide more than four times as much property and, atop the mesa with views in nearly all directions, “it's an inspiring location,” he said.
Woelke pointed out that another potential beneficiary of the new street is Holmes Middle School. That's because a second access to the church parking lot is from the school's driveway off Mesa Road.
The church's third access will be a right-in/right-out at Fillmore.
Woelke's company also owns 7.6 adjoining acres just south/southeast of Sentinel Springs (see map and photo on this page). Its terrain is far more undulating and abuts city open space. So that acreage will be designated as open space, he explained.
In another boost to the outdoors, he said he hopes to establish a public trailhead for the Mesa Ridge Trail at Grand Vista and the new street. The trail currently veers onto the Holmes property, and this is an attempt to “take some pressure off the school,” Woelke said.
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