Design Guidelines on its way to printer, historic overlay back to drawing board

       The Design Guidelines, a document defining architectural styles in older Westside buildings, has been approved by the State Historical Fund (SHF), and the final version was on its way to the printer this week.

An 1890 house (right) at 1212 W. Colorado Ave. is next door to a historically styled 2004 house at 1216 W. Colorado. Both are in the proposed historic overlay zone, although only the older would qualify for tax credits, based on age.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But until January, at least, no further progress is expected toward a future historic overlay zone plan for which the guidelines would be a technical element.
       Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) President Welling Clark outlined the situation at the Dec. 10 OWN board meeting. He said talks are continuing with Colorado Springs city administrators about options for moving forward now that the city will cease funding a historic preservation planner position as a budget cutback after this year.
       Eventually there must be three public meetings and copies of the guidelines made available to the public, in keeping with the stipulations in a 50-50 grant (SHF paying half, the city the other half) in 2008 that funded the document's development.
       The upside for property owners in a historic overlay zone would be the ability to earn tax credits for major renovations that are in keeping with the design guidelines. But with its staff cutbacks the city may have problems in taking on management of a zone that appears likely to have some 2,000 qualifying buildings.
       Clark said he is looking for ways to provide “maximum flexibility for property owners,” no matter what zone scenario is decided upon. Issues include the scope of the overlay area, whether it should be a formal zone and whether properties that use it have to stay in it permanently.
       “There's quite a bit of work that needs to be done,” added Terry Brunette, an OWN board member who has been involved in the recent discussions.
       As part of her approval, late last month, Elizabeth Blackwell, historic preservation specialist for the Colorado Historical Society, wrote that she had only one “issue” - OWN's insistence that “historic” should apply just to homes built before 1930; however, she did not cite that as a show-stopper. The 1930 cut-off was contrary to the position of contracted architect Steve Obering and current city preservation planner Tim Scanlon, who had opted for 1958 in the Guidelines text (because that's 50 years before the originally planned document submission date of 2008). Going back 50 years is the typical approach to such documents, according to Scanlon, whereas OWN members believe that the Westside's truly historical buildings pre-date 1930.
       “Overall, I think the document will be helpful to many owners of historic buildings in the neighborhood (though some are unfortunately dismissed due to the 1930 cutoff),” Blackwell wrote.
       The date issue was one of several that OWN and the city had argued about in finalizing the Guidelines for submittal to the state in September. OWN has also expressed frustration about being left out of the city-state process at times, when it was OWN volunteers who had originally brought the overlay idea forward several years ago and who have undertaken much of the background property documentation.

Westside Pioneer article