Old Bristol School's gymnasium demolished in move toward property redevelopmentThe demolition of the old gymnasium this week was a sign that redevelopment is coming to the site of the original Bristol Elementary School in the 700 block of Walnut Street.
The other three lots will face onto Walnut Street. A single-family house would be built on each of them. The
Mike Schultz of City Land Use Review said he is still reviewing the proposal, but does not see any issues serious enough to call for a neighborhood meeting. He commented that a recent, similar, adjacent redevelopment proposal by Kevin Montford had not resulted in neighborhood opposition. The city has informed nearby residents of the new plan, and they have until July 15 to respond.
Schultz said he can administratively approve Day's proposal, which is named the "Bristol School Subdivision." There are technically four requests: (1) for a four-lot subdivision, (2) for a non-use variance allowing a reduced rear-yard setback and (3 and 4) for “administrative relief” related to the three Walnut-facing lots being slightly undersized for the property's R-2 residential zone.
The original school property (taking up the block of Walnut between Dale and Monument Street and bounded by the alley to the west) totaled over an acre in all.
The site is now broken up into parcels of almost equal size - one taking up the north half, the other the south.
In his project, Day said he wants to keep the classroom building exterior about the same as it looks now, but to fully renovate the interior. For the new houses, he foresees a “progressive, but not overly modern” design. While that may not match the older houses in the neighborhood, it will be compatible with the contemporary design that Montford is planning, Day explained.
However, he pointed out that he is also open to sale offers on all four lots once he gets the necessary city approvals. So he could not predict, in answer to a question, how soon construction might actually occur.
The demolished gym had been about 3,430 square feet in size. Based on El Paso County Assessor's Office data, it went up with the classroom building in 1951.
Day said the gym had been structurally sound and he'd considered keeping it. “I looked at a lot of different options,” he said. “But I had to make some decisions, and I thought the gym side kind of loomed over the whole block. It was great space, but what do you do with it?”
On the other hand, the classroom building - also structurally sound - has hardwood floors and 12-foot-ceilings that will lend themselves to a loft-style interior, Day pointed out. And the gym's former footprint could be used, at least in part, for a garage.
The original Bristol Elementary building was built by School District 11 in 1891 and torn down in 1973, records show. That same year, the district moved the school to its current location, two blocks north on Walnut. The Bijou School was the last to use the 700 block site, departing in 2009. The property address, when it was a school, was 730 N. Walnut St.
District 11 sold the block as a single parcel two years ago. Montford's plat subdivided the property in a way that left the northern half as one large lot. Day bought it that way from Montford in April, using the business name of 730 N. Walnut LLC, assessor's records show.
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