By Faith Miller
Colorado Springs residents first mobilized to preserve the city’s historic character in the 1950s, notes the city’s new HistoricCOS draft plan.
When a 14-story hospital was proposed at the northern edge of the Old North End neighborhood, at North Cascade Avenue and Madison Street, residents successfully opposed the construction in an effort to maintain the character of their community.
The original First National Bank Building, The Antlers hotel and Ute Theater buildings were not so lucky — these historic properties were demolished around the same time, according to HistoricCOS.
The 80-page draft plan (presented to City Council at a work session Aug. 12) chronicles some of the city’s historic preservation efforts over the years, and provides a blueprint of sorts for how city government and elected leaders should work to preserve the city’s character into the future.
“Colorado Springs will be a community knowledgeable about preserving its unique history and cultural heritage,” the plan’s vision statement reads. “We will be a community proud of its past and ready to share its heritage story with residents and visitors. We will actively protect and utilize our irreplaceable historic and cultural resources as part of our ongoing economic and community development strategy.”
The city’s effort to update the last historic preservation plan from 1993 started in late 2017. A team of consultants led by Stan Clauson Associates (a landscape architecture, planning and resort design firm) met with neighborhood organizations and other groups, and asked community members what they’d like to see in terms of preservation.
The $60,650 project was funded mostly through grants, including $29,900 from the State Historical Fund.
The draft plan still has a ways to go before it’s finalized. Staff will present it to the Planning Commission in September, and once again to Council in September or October.
Like PlanCOS and neighborhood master plans, HistoricCOS doesn’t explicitly commit Council to funding certain initiatives, but it does provide a vision for how to preserve the past as the city grows.
In that vein, the plan lays out a series of recommended tasks for the city. Here are just a few:
• Survey the public on which properties should receive historic designation.
• Determine which city-owned properties are historic (normally buildings that are at least 50 years old, and meet other criteria) and institute a documentation system so that the city can add new properties as they’re acquired, or as properties age.
• Expand historic overlay zones, which require new development in those zones to meet certain design requirements.
The city will host an open house 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Colorado Springs Pioneer’s Museum, located at 215 S. Tejon St., with a meet-and-greet, presentation and Q&A session on the draft plan.
Editor’s note: This story was first published at csindy.com.