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With Pikes Peak looming in the distance, the site of the planned First Evangelical Free Church will be at the near corner of Mesa Road and Fillmore Street (background). The church-owned property consists of more than 15 acres in all. In the foreground is a private road that is to become a public street providing access for the church to Grand Vista Circle. The road crosses a drainage swale (right) over a berm that houses a Colorado Springs Utilities wastewater line.
Westside Pioneer photo
Looking east along the private road (which is to become a public street), the Health Care Resort of Colorado Springs, built in 2016, is at far left. Houses for the future Sentinel Springs subdivision are planned along either side of the road, which will allow access to Grand Vista Circle. The Oasis Apartments along Grand Vista are in the middle background.
Westside Pioneer photo

Years later, plans for homes, church moving forward at former Sentinel Ridge

Dec. 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,
The middle part of this terrain view on the El Paso County Assessor's website shows the area south and east of Fillmore Street and Mesa Road and over to Grand Vista Circle. Directly across Fillmore from Coronado is the Health Care Resort of Colorado Springs. The yellow lines indicate parcel boundaries. First Evangelical Free Church owns the three parcels nearest the intersection of Fillmore and Mesa, while the Sentinel Springs subdivision is planned just southeast of the resort facility, with its open space parcel just southeast of that. The property next to the open space (in green) is city open space.
Courtesy of El Paso County Assessor's Office; Westside Pioneer edits to insert two street names
most of that land remains fallow.
       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
A rendering provided by First Evangelical Free Church shows how the rear entrance to the church will look, with Pikes Peak in the background, when the structure is built at the southeast corner of Mesa Road and Fillmore Street.
Courtesy of First Evangelical Free Church
adjoining both of them.
       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
A rendering provided by First Evangelical Free Church shows how the front entrance to the church will look when the structure is built. This is a view that people would see from Mesa Road near Fillmore Street.
Courtesy of First Evangelical Free Church
any contribution,” he commented, cheerfully.
       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.
Nearly 8 acres is being set aside as open space just in back of (southeast of) the planned Sentinel Springs subdivision. Some of that area is in this photo, shot in a southeasterly direction from the subdivision's future street.
Westside Pioneer photo
       As for access for the church site and the Sentinel Springs subdivision, that's where the private road over the berm, mentioned higher up in the story, comes in handy. Under plans worked out by the city with Woelke and First Evangelical, it's to become a public street that will run between the church parking lot and Grand Vista Circle, also serving Sentinel Springs residents. The developers (for the church and subdivision projects) will need to build it, according to Lonna Thelen of Colorado Springs Planning.
       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.

Westside Pioneer article
(Land: Proposals)

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