Encourage land buyers to be true to Westside, Goodwill hears

       Small, locally owned stores. Big trees. Historic architecture. Helpful neighbors. Walkability. People feeling accepted. People feeling safe.
       No one can predict what the future will bring to the Westside's Goodwill property, but a Goodwill-organized public meeting Oct. 26 revealed a lot of what Westsiders like about their area now.

A graphic looking southwest displays the current Goodwill properties in the 2300 block, along with zoning designations and maxium building heights. The Old Colorado City historic district is in the next block, just west of 24th Street, as is Bancroft Park (upper right).
Courtesy of Goodwill Industries and HB&A

       Afterward, Goodwill Industries CEO Karla Grazier thanked the 30 or so people who attended despite cold and snowy weather. “This exceeded our expectations,” she said. “We appreciate your honesty. We're starting to understand what your needs are.”
       She in turn received applause from the audience for taking the trouble to seek out public sentiment.
       The Goodwill parcels are in the 2300 block (about 141,000 square feet in all), taking up most of both sides of Colorado Avenue as well as the north side of Cucharras Street, plus about a fourth of the south side of Pikes Peak Avenue.
       The nonprofit agency, which has been in that block for some 50 years, bought a large building off Garden of the Gods Road earlier this year and will be moving most of its offices citywide - including its 2300 block headquarters - to that new location in 2012. The goal is to have the parcels sold by then, but Grazier said Goodwill thought it would first be useful to ask for ideas from local residents and business people on “replacing some of the economic activity we'll be removing.”

Goodwill CEO Karla Grazier speaks fo the audience at the meeting on future uses for its properties in the 2300 block of Colorado Avenue, Cucharras Street and Pikes Peak Avenue.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The 1 ½-hour meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation by Goodwill, and then the floor was opened up to attendees. An overarching concern was about invasive development that could result in incompatible architecture and uses that wouldn't fit the area.
       Several people were worried about buildings going in that would be even taller than the two- and three-story structures in the Old Colorado City historic district just a block to the west. For example, buildings as tall as 45 feet could be allowed in the C-5 (commercial) zone currently along the avenue and 40 feet in the M-1 (light industrial) zone along Cucharras.
       (Goodwill's other zone is R-2 (residential) for its parking lot off Pikes Peak Avenue. Such a use is allowed under a variance from the city.)
       The possibilities of putting in a small conference center or returning residential uses to Cucharras also came up.
       Speaking to the center idea was Dave Hughes, who had been a key figure in the historically themed redevelopment of Old Colorado City in the late '70s and early '80s. He said he believes regular conferences of up to 150 people could have been attracted then and still might be today.
       He added that in the redevelopment years, he and other commercial leaders had “defended” Goodwill against some merchants back then “who didn't like seeing handicapped people up there.”
       At the front of the room was a board listing all the allowable uses in the Goodwill properties, as currently zoned. The largest number of green dots wound up going next to these uses: “mixed use” (residential/commercial), community recreation, restaurants, food sales in general and parking structures (the tightness of that situation currently was made clear during the discussion when one neighbor asked if she could park her own car in such a structure).
       The most red dots went in next to these uses: individual-lot duplexes, single-family homes and manufactured homes, sexually oriented businesses, crematories and detoxification centers.
       Grazier was assisted by Andrea Barker and Bob Steimle of HB&A, a local architectural and planning firm. They made it clear that the ultimate plan for the current Goodwill parcels will come from whoever buys them; however, Barker said the meeting responses would be documented and “we'll put it in the package that we show the buyers.”

Westside Pioneer article