Initial plans call for a building of at least 30 stories.
Initial plans call for a building of at least 30 stories.

Perry Sanders doesn’t do things in a small way, and he doesn’t do things halfway.

With his latest project, he’s not only going big on style, he’s aiming high — as in a new high-rise, downtown apartment building.

Tuesday afternoon, in the resplendent lobby of the Mining Exchange hotel, Sanders unveiled plans for an unprecedented downtown skyscraper — as tall as 100 stories — and for renovations to the historic Antlers Hilton, which he is purchasing.

“My partner John Goede [of Florida] and I are considering half-a-dozen downtown sites for the new building,” Sanders said of the high-rise concept. “All the present landowners are aware of our interest and of our plans, and have agreed to hold off until we make our decision.”

As currently conceived, the building will be at least 30 stories, but Sanders and Goede are aiming higher — much, much higher.

“We intend for this to be the highest building west of the Mississippi,” Sanders said. “We’re looking at 100 stories. We’ve gotten extremely positive feedback from lenders and property managers regarding demand for such an ambitious project.”

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Preliminary drawings by Colorado Springs architect Doug Comstock show a slender, graceful spire soaring as much as 1,000 feet above the city.

“We intend for this to be the highest building west of the Mississippi.” – Perry Sanders

“We need rooftops; we need to give incentives to young people for a cool place to live,” Sanders said. “We’re interested in giving people a walking, rather than a commuting, lifestyle. We’re two relatively small guys trying to do something to the core of the city and to show that Colorado Springs can attract young, super-smart people.”

Can this really happen?

“We can’t guarantee that it’ll get done,” said Sanders, “but we’re giving it our best shot.”

Antlers project

Sanders also shared details of his proposed renovation of the Antlers Hilton, which he and Goede contracted to buy several weeks ago.

Unlike the Mining Exchange, which required extensive structural renovation and upgrading to become an upscale boutique hotel, Sanders anticipates that updating the Antlers will be comparatively simple.

“At the Mining Exchange, we had to do a lot of work that didn’t necessarily contribute to the value of the hotel,” he explained. “You have to have water; you have to have electricity; you have to have heat — we had to replace all those systems. The Antlers has had some renovation in the past, so it’s mostly cosmetic. It’ll be pure pleasure to refit it.”

Goede and Sanders plan to replace Judge Baldwin’s Brewpub with a hibachi-style bistro. They also plan a “really grand lobby bar where people can gather and have a great time.”

Noting that no public rooms in the Antlers currently have mountain views, Sanders promises change.

The project’s pièce de résistance, he says, will be the View, an upper-floor space with expansive views of the mountains.

“General Palmer picked this site for his original Antlers because it had the best views in the city,” said Sanders. “We want it to be a space like the Mining Exchange lobby, where you can just relax. John and I think we really have it dialed in.”

The renovated hotel will have an outdoor swimming pool, to be built on the first-floor deck. It will include cabanas and other amenities, “like something you’d expect in Beverly Hills. We spent a lot of time going through the property, trying to figure out ways to maximize the space,” Sanders said.

30 North Tejon

Goede and Sanders also own the building at 30 N. Tejon St. which houses The Famous Steak House.

They’ve leased the currently unoccupied ground-floor space fronting Kiowa Street on the east side of the building to Duca’s Pizza, a small chain that already operates two stores in Colorado Springs. The upper floors will remain offices, with much of the space occupied by Goede’s and Sanders’ separate law firms.

Why such frenzied activity? Why now — and not two years ago?

“Two years ago, I was on the verge of selling the Mining Exchange,” said Sanders. “We had a reputation as a business-unfriendly city. I couldn’t stand to show up at a City Council meeting and see such vile, weird stuff. It seemed to me that under the old City Council they did everything they could to stop progress. They would treat people with complete contempt and disrespect.”

But, he emphasized, Mayor John Suthers (Sanders, who gave Suthers’ campaign $10,000, was the mayor’s largest individual donor) and the current City Council have turned things around.

“There’s a real spirit of cooperation now,” he said. “For that reason, and that reason alone, we’re really going long on the city.”