New development prompts pushback in OCC

Local

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With its small-town charm and historic character, Old Colorado City keeps it simple.

But things might take a shift on the west side.

“I’m really excited, first of all, about being on this side of town,” said Penny Szulkowski, CEO and founder of Namaste’ Bay Wellness and Wellness Warriors. “West side is the ‘it’ side.”

A developer is proposing a new apartment building on the northeast corner of West Colorado Avenue and Chestnut Street.

According to the city’s planning documents, it will be four stories tall, with 54 units.

“There’s a vibe here, there’s an eclectic kind of vibe that people just dig, and something of this nature might take away from it,” said David Brown, co-owner and artist at Fallen Heroes Tattoo and Art.

Brown said he understands the city is growing.

“There’s a place for that,” Brown said. “There’s a place for the apartment-type thing. There’s a place for the big business buildings that are downtown, and I just don’t think this is that place.”

So he started an online petition against the proposal.

One concern several business owners share is parking.

“There’s already an incredibly serious shortage of parking,” said Paul Paradis, owner of Paradise Sales.

But the city says that won’t be an issue. It’s already done an impact study and found that the extra vehicles, about 360 a day, would be easily accommodated as is.

Plus, they say new off-street parking spots, added to what’s already available on street, will be enough for everyone.

“I will say I’m worried about, a little bit about the size of the project, but I am excited that it will give an opportunity to bring more people, possible into the business,” Szulkowski said.

“I don’t see it as a help for business,” Paradis said. “Other businesses help businesses. Having a large apartment complex across the street, I don’t think that that’s going to a lot for business.”

Brian Kniep, vice president of planning and community development with developer Goodwin Knight, said they’re open to hearing all of these concerns. Kniep said they are waiting to respond until all comments are collected by the city, with an August 7 deadline.

Until then, everyone’s hoping for the best outcome.

“I was originally drawn to this side of town is because it’s growing, and I want to be part of that growing,” Szulkowski said. “I want to be part of what I’m seeing this community grow into.”

>> Tap here for a look at the apartment building plan.

>> Tap here for the petition.

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