Lofts could mark start of new style for Old Town

       It's been home to an ice cream store, an opera house, vaudeville theater, fraternal organizations, a dentist and a furniture store - not to mention a haven for children who once raced model cars, rode bicycles and even flew model airplanes.
       Now, the historic Waycott Building at 2432 W. Colorado Ave. is adding a chapter to its century-plus story, as The Old Colorado City Lofts renovation/ development nears completion on its top two floors. The lofts will be the first in Old Colorado City, and Janelle Walston of the Walston Group hopes they will have the same success as those she has helped design and market in downtown Colorado Springs over the past five years.
       The Waycott's longtime business - the Meadow Muffins restaurant/bar - will stay where it is on the ground floor, according to plans by Berry Craddock, who bought the building in 2003 and started the upper-floors renovation last spring.
       The current hope is to have the project completed by March 1. “We'd like to have a big grand opening on St. Patrick's Day,” Walston said. “We can introduce the lofts to people and businesses.”
       The second floor will consist of 6,300 square feet of office space, while the third floor is divided into four residential lofts - the smallest at 1,175 square feet and the largest at 1,408 square feet.
       The project reflects a blend of modern and historic. The interior utilities and various living amenities are new, while the original brick walls and high ceilings (12-plus feet, including heating ducts) exposed to give the space the “rawness” people expect from lofts, Watson said.
       “Old Colorado City is the perfect place for lofts,” said Watson, who gained the nickname, “the loft lady,” for her downtown efforts. “They're accessible, and people know each other.” Like the downtown and Denver and New York City before that, Colorado City has “enough businesses to support the loft lifestyle,” she believes. “That's what people love about the lofts downtown. You can walk out the door and find everything you need.”
       According to local historian Mel McFarland, Old Colorado City's main shopping district - unlike many downtown-type areas across the country - has never been known as a place where many people live upstairs above businesses. Charlie Tutt, owner of Meadow Muffins, could only think of three or four. So if the loft concept catches on in Old Town, it would mean a lifestyle change for the area.
       “There are great buildings here that are not being utilized,” Walston commented.
       "It's all positive," Tutt said. "This is an improvement to the Westside. The building's changed a lot, and we're thrilled with it. Dave Hughes helped redo Old Colorado City 25 years ago, and this is the next evolution. I think we may see this happen in other buildings around here."
       Amenities for the Waycott's residential lofts include balconies, central heating and air conditioning, individual laundry areas, high- speed internet, refinished hardwood floors, private garages, a secured access and various views through the original windows. Prices range from $275,000 to $375,000.
       The office lofts rent for $10 a square foot; space can also be purchased. The basic layout calls for three suites. The first tenant - Clifford Taylor Architects - is partitioning space in one of the suites, according to Mike Craddock of the Craddock Columbine Realty Company.
       The building, whose age is variously given as 103 to 108 years old, was known in its earlier years for housing the Idle Hour Theater on the first floor and the Waycott Opera House on the second. An eatery long before Meadow Muffins was Mack's Ice Cream Parlor, whose painted “ghost” sign has been retained on the outside of the building.
       The past use with the most detailed information is that of the West End Furniture store, which operated at the site for about a quarter of a century (from the '40s to about 1970).
       In researching the building's history, Walston gathered a written remembrance from John Dyck, whose father, Waldo Dyck, owned West End Furniture.
       One of John's recollections was working for his father. “I spent many hours at the store dusting, washing the front windows, filing statements, sweeping, shoveling snow and delivering furniture,” he wrote. “Dad usually had two employees, another salesman and a delivery man. These two employees plus his two sons composed the workforce. His two sons were unpaid. He figured his sons received their pay every time we pulled up to the dinner table.”
       John Dyck also remembered playing in the building. “The third floor of the building was where my friends and I had great times,” he wrote. “There were some offices on the north side of the floor and the rest was a big auditorium… We had obstacle races riding in and out of the offices and around the auditorium. The big room was great for flying paper airplanes and rubber-band powered model airplanes and balsa wood gliders. We had friction car races. I doubt many remember the friction powered cars. We would wind them up and race them in the big room.”

Westside Pioneer article