(Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series on the reconstruction of the South Nevada Avenue corridor.)
Ever since local entrepreneurs Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli purchased rundown property between Nevada Avenue and Tejon Street 12 years ago, they’ve seen beauty among the ruins.
Amid abandoned, critter-infested buildings, weeds and trash-strewn side streets, lies Cheyenne Creek and a wide stretch of green grass and trees.
“You have to have an imagination to see it,” Sam Guadagnoli said. “The creek is the best asset. Now that we have our urban renewal approved, which was a huge piece of this, the time is now.”
The economy was on the decline when Guadagnoli bought the land — but thanks to an economic rebound and low interest rates, he said it’s time to put his restorative plans into action.
Guadagnoli and his wife Kathy have been investing in the city for about 40 years. The two own a string of downtown bars and nightclubs, including The Mansion, Cowboys, Blondie’s and Gasoline Alley.
The Guadagnolis’ extensive plans, spanning 15 acres, include multi-level apartment buildings, townhomes, a hotel and an Italian restaurant and winery.
With help from the city and Urban Renewal Authority, the $75 million project — called Ivywild on the Creek — is to be completed within the next three years.
Guadagnoli said he envisions a 24-hour community that includes creekside living, dining and shopping throughout the historic Ivywild neighborhood.
“The main attraction will be all of it,” he said. “I think it will all work together and be fun.”
Wine and dine
What’s now a three-story office building at 1515 S. Tejon St. will be transformed into a modern-style Italian restaurant and wine bar. It’s currently the most developed project on the Guadagnolis’ list, and construction is set to begin in March, according to John Nelson, project architect from John P. Nelson Associates.
The restaurant will be located on the upper level and the winery below, with a tasting room, wine cellar and private dining area.
A full-time winemaker will run the operation and customers will be able to view the production area, Nelson said.
“The building will offer generous dining space, an outdoor patio and a balcony overlooking the Westside,” he said. “We’re going to take a fairly plain-looking building and create something quite striking with the money that is spent.”
A number of the Guadagnolis’ properties are next to Cheyenne Creek. His team will create structured parking for the projects and the entire Ivywild neighborhood.
The team will also build rental and for-sale residential units for all income levels.
“I think the project is going be highly visible and prominent enough to attract a lot of people,” Nelson said. “It’s going to revitalize the neighborhood and influence the business community in the south area.”
With the approved urban renewal plan, the city plans to repair and upgrade the roads, bridges and sidewalks along Cheyenne Creek.
“A bike trail will be created that will connect under Interstate 25 and come out to Cheyenne Boulevard,” Sam Guadagnoli said.
Prime steak, urban issues
Ryan Lloyd from Echo Architecture is the architect for an upscale steakhouse planned for 1605 S. Tejon St.
“Plans for the steakhouse are in place and construction could begin within the next few weeks,” Lloyd said. “Nonetheless, it will be tied to the hotel which is going to take a while, so the restaurant might also be put on hold.”
The restaurant will offer a high-end menu, Lloyd said.
“It’s going to be a cool spot,” he said. “We really want to expose the brick walls and history of the building. It will feature a neat, modern staircase and open dining area. The outdoor space will be impressive and tie into activity off Tejon [Street].”
Accomplishing infill and redevelopment in Colorado Springs isn’t an easy task, Lloyd said.
“It’s hard to get permits and meet parking and utility guidelines,” he said. “Owners are forced to improve infrastructure that is very costly. The city is trying to make it better, but zoning and building codes, utility requirements and other processes aren’t designed for infill in an older urban context. We’re inventing the wheel, and figuring out the lease and market rates have been a challenge.”
Lloyd has been working on infill projects for years and said although it’s still a battle, the perception of infill in Colorado Springs has improved.
“I think the understanding of what we’re doing is starting to catch up,” he said. “The Planning Commission is more progressive than they used to be and they’re starting to take steps toward change. Hopefully things will be better in the next few years.”
The redevelopment will bring a new kind of energy, while also raising the bar for design. The city will repair the roads, rebuild the infrastructure and make public transit possible, Lloyd said.
“I’m a big proponent of this plan,” Lloyd said. “I’m a big fan of urban infill because I think it creates a healthy inner city where people live, work and play. I think adding the park on the creek and residential living will be a huge asset to our community.”
Music on the green
The Guadagnolis plan to create an amphitheater next to Cheyenne Creek that will feature art shows, film screenings and philharmonic performances.
“It will be open to the public, but won’t be a club-type atmosphere,” Kathy Guadagnoli said.
For the Embassy Suites-style hotel, Sam Guadagnoli said he plans to install six historic fireplaces designed by Cripple Creek mining millionaire and philanthropist Winfield Scott Stratton.
“Stratton designed the woodworking on them,” he said. “I plan to carefully disassemble the fireplaces from houses I own so guests in the hotel can enjoy them.”
Ivywild on the Creek
• 200-300 apartments
• 164 other residential units
• 120-150 hotel rooms
• 240-space parking garage
• 4-6 restaurants
• Several retail stores