A site worth casting for
Angler’s Covey plans major store at 21st and Hwy 24

       Nowadays, when people want to try out a casting rod at Angler's Covey, Dave Leinweber takes them to a slender astroturf area on the side of the converted house on West Colorado Avenue where the business has operated for 18 years. In a photo looking east across 21st Street from the Prospector sculpture, the property at the northeast 
corner of the 21st Street/Highway 24 intersection looks much the same as it has for the past century or more.
       Things should be different in a few months. A lot different. Not just for Angler's Covey, which is planning a new building so spacious that people will be able to try out rods inside the store, but for everyone driving past Highway 24 and 21st Street, who will see a development at the northeast corner of the intersection for the first time in known history.
        Although the city has not yet signed off on the proposal - a conditional use request is tentatively scheduled before Colorado Springs Planning Commission Aug. 5 - Leinweber has been working with city staff for months on project details, and he's hopeful for a December store opening.
       Original plans called for this month, but “it's been one thing after another,” said Leinweber, who took over as principal owner from Angler's Covey originator Kent Brekke in 1997. “There've been constant delays.”
        So unanticipated were the schedule setbacks that he now has this little problem of the lease running out in September at his present 917 W. Colorado Ave. location. As a result, he's having to contemplate whether to move to a temporary location or just shut down during a time period that is usually his slowest of the year.
       Despite the red tape with the new store, “I'm pretty excited about it,” he said. The 21st Street building, designed to his specifications, will have more than 5,000 square feet, compared with 1,200 at the current site.
        “Now if I decide to carry something new, I have to decide not to carry something else,” he said.
        The hardest items to fit in? Pontoon boats, he replied without hesitation.
       There's also the problem finding space for the many different colors of material for flying ties. At the new store, Leinweber looks to have the broadest inventory of flying tie materials in the state.
       The 30-foot floor-to-ceiling will leave plenty of room even for those who like casting with a longer line. There will also be a casting area outside.
       Off-street parking now consists of eight spaces on the alley behind the store. At the new site, 30 spaces are planned.
       Access will be from 21st Street - right-in, right-out only.
       The building will include two smaller business spaces (1,000 and 750 square feet), which will be leased at the outset. However, if the store needs to grow at a later date, “we could expand into them,” Leinweber said.
        According to Westside historian Mel McFarland, the site has never been built on, going back as far as the 1880s.
        Leinweber said the project will be funded through an SBA loan, in partnership with Tom Perkins of Perkins Motor Co., the current owner of the land. In their agreement, Perkins will have part ownership of the property and building, with Anglers Covey technically a tenant.
       For Leinweber, one of the most intriguing features is that behind the site is Fountain Creek. Although certain liability issues still need to be ironed out, he thinks eventually he will be able to stock the creek and create fishing pools in it as an amenity for customers - even letting them cast into the creek.
       A pedestrian trail is envisioned along the creek - the start of a route that would follow the creek under the highway to tie in with a potential trail system in the proposed Gold Hill Mesa development southeast of Highway 24 and 21st Street, Leinweber said.
       He's also taken steps to make sure his plan fits in with the Westside community, including meeting with the Organization of West-side Neighbors (OWN).
       Sallie Clark, an OWN board member, applauded Leinweber for doing this. “We offered suggestions on his traffic plan, but overall we thought it was nicely planned, with a lot of character and charm,” she said. “It's really going to improve that corner and complement the Westside.”
       The business might even become a “tourist attraction” in its own right, Clark said, pulling in fishermen driving up Ute Pass who might wind up doing other business on the Westside.
       Leinweber hopes to do more with the space than fit in pontoon boats and sell a greater number of fly rods and ties. The inside casting area is just part of his goal to “change the emphasis of the store, from a fly fishing store to a fly fishing learning center,” he said. “The whole concept with the store is to make it easy for people to understand fly fishing, kind of a learning experience as you buy, with us trying to take out a lot of the complicating things.”

Westside Pioneer Article