Gold Hill Mesa, Roundhouse, Coke plant projects honored

       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) revealed a different strategy for its sixth annual Spirit Awards at its Oct. 28 meeting.

In front of a screen projection, Chuck Murphy discusses his renovation at the OWN meeting.
Westside Pioneer photo

       In the past, the OWN plan was for property owners to nominate their upgrades, with winners decided by volunteer judges appointed by the city-recognized neighborhood advocacy group. This year, faced with a dearth of self-nominators, OWN board members decided to go out and find worthy properties themselves.
       This resulted in a total of six properties being recognized for seven awards in all. A personalized certificate was given for each. Receiving two awards was the Gold Hill Mesa development group for New Construction - Commercial (for its community center) and Signage (for its new entryway monument at Villa de Mesa Drive and 21st Street).

Gold Hill's new monument sign off 21st Street. (The community center's tower is visible in background left.)
Westside Pioneer photo

       Other recipients were:
  • Murphy Constructors - Landscaping/Curb Appeal - Commercial (for its $700,000 renovation of the former Coca-Cola plant in the 400 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue).
  • The Griffis-Blessing development company - Historic Preservation: Commercial (for its $2.5 million renovation of the historic Midland Railway roundhouse at 21st Street and Highway 24).
  • Contractor Larry Vasterling - New Construction: Residential (for building a new house replacing one that had officially been declared a dangerous building at 2905 W. Platte Ave .).
  • Westside Community Center - Remodeling/ Addition - Commercial (for its work to modify and upgrade the former Buena Vista school facility into a community center).
  • Homeowner Susan Milani - Landscaping/Curb Appeal - Residential (for recent xeriscaping in front of her house at 2131 W. Pikes Peak Ave.).
           At Gold Hill Mesa, the community center is named the Exchange Building in memory of the mining exchange from the heyday of Cripple Creek, according to Willard. Opened in 2007, the 20,000-square-foot, two-story building includes mailboxes for the development's residents, an upstairs meeting room, commercial space, a Gold Hill information office and garage doors that can be rolled up for festive indoor-outdoor occasions downstairs. The outer grounds are landscaped with grassy areas, commissioned art work and “a massive amount of flowers,” Willard said.
           The monument sign went in last summer when Gold Hill Mesa was a main site for the annual Parade of Homes. A temporary road (closed now) was cut in next to it for the Parade; a permanent road to the 210-acre residential-commercial development will be built there in the future, according to project plans.
           Chuck Murphy, a Westside-based contractor who has been in business 50 years, described the Coke plant project as “a big undertaking.” The 43,429-square-foot concrete warehouse and office building sits on 1.54 acres. Currently, 90 percent of the space is leased, he said. The upgrades were inside and outside, including new utilities.
           Vasterling said that people in the neighborhood around 2905 W. Platte were happy in 2009 when he replaced the delapidated structure with a 1,670-square-foot house. “We had people clapping and cheering,” he said.
           The roundhouse was originally a one-story, 30,000-square-foot stone structure, built in 1887 with tall, curved doors and 18-to-25-foot ceilings to accommodate train engine repairs. Van Briggle Pottery had operated on the site for about half a century, but Griffis-Blessing's work turned it into a modern commercial building - now titled the Roundhouse - that retained the historic exterior and added modern amenities inside. Completed last year, the work featured customized glass doors and/or windows in the openings, extensive landscaping and the selective use of mezzanines to create interior second floors, as desired, for those renting the space.
           The Westside Community Center was taken over in April by the Woodmen Valley Chapel, which has signed a three-year lease with the city to run the facility. Dick Wolf, one of the center administrators, described upgrades - many of them implemented by volunteers - including the recently added raised-bed garden, a refurbished gym, a bike repair area, the Westside CARES pantry, a new outdoor basketball court, off-street parking and (last week) horseshoe pits.
           Murphy, Willard, Vasterling, Wolf and Murphy talked about their projects at the meeting. OWN President Welling Clark read from information the Roundhouse had submitted.
           No representative from 2131 W. Pikes Peak attended, but OWN board member Kristine Van Wert, who had nominated the address for the landscaping award, said the work, which was done by a professional company, indicates a “nice property owner who is trying to make the Westside better.”

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