OWN, city working on design guidelines tasks; summer consultant hiring seen

       Preliminary work is moving forward toward design guidelines that could lead to an historic overlay zone for residential and commercial buildings on the older Westside.
       Tim Scanlon, the historical planner for Colorado Springs Planning, has been researching on his own and meeting regularly with a subcommittee of the volunteer Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) on various tasks preliminary to the guidlelines themselves.
       In a recent presentation to the OWN board, Scanlon said he has been drafting a narrative that will outline the “historical context” of the Westside's development over the past century and a half. He also described a time-intensive effort with the subcommittee to study nearly 4,000 Westside buildings and determine the extent to which each one “contributes” historically (if at all). He predicted both these efforts will be done this month.
       As proposed by Scanlon in March, the OWN subcommittee members have since received city training in how to categorize buildings regarding their historical styles, types and forms.
       But any “contribution” decisions will really just provide a historical context in preparation for the overlay zone itself, Scanlon clarified. Assuming the effort will continue to the zone-proposal stage - and OWN members have expressed determination that it will - final decisions would depend on how much property owners themselves support the idea, he said.
       As envisioned by OWN, the zone would be “voluntary,” in the sense that Westside property owners would not be required to design façade remodels according to historic rules (but could get tax incentives if they did). There would be a 90-day waiting period, in any case.
       In another update, Scanlon told the board he has received en-couraging re-sponses from qualified architects he has informally talked to about their interest in serving as project consultant. The person would write the guidelines, using the historical narrative and “contribution” decisions for reference.
       The goal is to hire a consultant this summer. The writing effort would continue - with regular reviews by OWN, Scanlon and the state - until December, when there would be three public meetings at which the guidelines would be presented.
       Funding for the guideline effort is being provided by grants from the city and the State Historical Fund. A previous consultant (who was to handle the historical narrative and “contribution” decisions as well) had been hired last September, but was let go in March when his work did not satisfy the city or state. OWN and Scanlon have since been formulating an alternate plan to finish the guidelines before the state grant runs out next year.
       OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside.
       OWN members began proposing the overlay idea about six years ago. Kristine Van Wert, an OWN board member and chair of the subcommittee, said she has been especially inspired by the lasting power of the one-time Colorado City downtown's buildings (already on the Historic Register), which she sees as a reflection of the Westside as a whole. “The fact that they're still standing blew me away,” she said “I've traveled a lot and I've seen places that had bits and pieces. But Old Colorado City is a whole town that didn't have any likelihood of making it, but they were so tough they did.”

Westside Pioneer article