Analysis: Former VA clinic is getting a makeover

former VA Building 25 N. Spruce St

“It’s really ugly,” Hoff & Leigh principal Holly Trinidad said cheerfully, standing outside 25 Spruce St. on a recent sunny afternoon. “But wait till we finish our renovation. You won’t recognize it.”

The commercial real estate agency has begun the renovation of the Spruce Street property, which is already about 50 percent leased, and Trinidad expects the building will be ready for occupancy within a few months.

“It’s about a $7 million deal,” Trinidad said, “including the purchase price, renovations and finish allowances for tenants. We’re in a joint venture with Craddock [Commercial Real Estate].”

The property at 25 Spruce was built in 1975 and housed a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinic for many years. It’s a 30,000-square-foot building designed in a style that might be called bureaucratic brutalism. Severe, unadorned and menacing, the structure isn’t exactly welcoming. Like the Colorado Springs City Administration Building, its exterior is finished in pebble stucco.

“I know, I know,” said Trinidad, “it looks like a jail or the headquarters of the KGB. But we’ll change everything.”

The property has been vacant for several years. The door opens into a cramped corridor that leads to a central elevator, one just big enough for two people. It creaks ominously, eventually reaching the third floor.

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“We’re moving the elevator tower to the front of the building,” Trinidad explained, standing near a horizontal band of windows that circles the now-gutted space. “This floor will be very open and modern, with bare concrete floors and exposed beams. The building is very simple, just a rectangle — and you can do so much with a rectangle!”

As well as creating a new entry and elevator tower, Trinidad plans to update the exterior, including the removal of the pebble stucco, and create a living wall on the building facing Interstate 25.

Trinidad pointed out 130,000 cars per day go past the building, and there’s nothing to identify or brand it.

As leasing goes, Bank of the San Juans has committed to take the first floor and a Keller Williams office will occupy half of the second floor.

The big draw? Parking.

“We have about six spaces per thousand [square feet],” Trinidad said. “That’s very attractive to tenants who might want to be close to downtown and I-25, but without downtown parking problems. It’s suburban parking in a downtown location.”

Trinidad said the renovation will help catalyze the surrounding neighborhood.

“You know that the Westside is the best side,” she said. “We want to rebrand this area as Downtown West. You can see the growth and change, the Millennials moving into the homes and cottages, the new businesses starting — it’s exciting. Maybe we’ll go for [an urban renewal area] designation, maybe we’ll do more development — there are so many opportunities here.”

Trinidad and her husband, R.D., own and operate Hoff & Leigh, a firm founded in 1987 by Bob Hoff and Holly’s father, Tim Leigh.

The Trinidads have, in recent years, supervised the acquisition, renovation and leasing of several down-at-the-heels office buildings in and around downtown. The Spruce project is another in a series of ambitious renovations.

Craddock Commercial Real Estate, founded in 1967 by Berry Craddock, is a Colorado Springs legacy real estate firm, owned and operated by the family’s second generation.