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Hello, neighbor

CC is surrounded by homes, making growth contentious


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Glen Avenue is a wallflower of streets — in the middle of the action, but rarely noticed.

Accessed by turning north off busy Uintah Street near Interstate 25, it dead-ends quickly, jogs down West San Miguel Street and then continues for another block before dead-ending again. Cathy Henrichs' parents purchased a quaint Victorian on this street in the late 1950s, when it was a quiet neighborhood. While the area lacked the grandeur of the Old North End, Henrichs loved it. When her parents grew too old to live in the home, she bought it from them with the intention of slowly repairing and restoring it.

But there's less of the old neighborhood to love these days. Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Headquarters blocks off one end of it, and Colorado College has purchased much of the remainder of the tiny area, wedged between railroad tracks and Monument Creek. The college already uses part of its property for offices, groundskeeping operations, a greenhouse and storage. Soon, it's hoping to rip down several houses across the street from Henrichs' home to make way for a large warehouse.

She isn't pleased.

"Everyone's concerned for their property values, because who would buy a few stray houses in a warehouse district?" she asks.

Like its neighbor to the north, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, CC plans to expand and improve its campus. But unlike rapidly growing UCCS, CC isn't increasing its enrollment, choosing instead to maintain around 2,000 undergraduate students. Changes to CC's campus are aesthetic, or intended to make facilities work better for students and staff, and most are within the college's existing footprint.

In the case of the warehouse, CC wants to create a facility to house lesser-used library books. It's a small piece of a larger $45 million plan to renovate and expand Tutt Library in 2016, because it is too small to meet student demand. Tutt will go from approximately 69,600 square feet to 108,200 square feet, including basement space.

While Tutt is being expanded into a modern marvel, complete with walls of floor-to-ceiling windows, books will be moved to the warehouse for safe storage. Many will stay there afterward to make room for more study space in the library. If students request the books, they will be delivered to the library. Robert Moore, CC's vice president for finance and administration, says he expects most traffic in and out of the warehouse to happen between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"We think it's a fairly low-impact project," he says. "But that's in the eye of the beholder, I guess."

Moore says that since CC is surrounded by neighborhoods, it buys neighboring properties — ones that might be useful — as they become available. Most properties in the path of the proposed warehouse were acquired within the past six years.

The college had hired a property manager to lease out some of the homes, but all will be vacant soon. If rezoning and other plans are approved, the old homes could be gone and construction could begin as soon as this fall.

In architectural drawings, the 10,923 square-foot warehouse — called the Creekside Support Center — looks huge but quite rustic. It has slanted roofs and siding that appears to be made of reclaimed wood. It's actually metal, Moore says, but made to look like wood.

"I call it a horse barn," he says. "It's supposed to look like it was built in the 1920s."

Aside from the library expansion and warehouse, CC hasn't made many big splashes with recent projects. The Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, completed in 2008, drew the attention of outsiders. Also notable was the college's decision not to renew the lease for the Leechpit, a vintage clothing store located in a college-owned building at 802 N. Nevada Ave. That building was vacated in 2013 and is now a student art gallery. The Leechpit later moved to West Colorado Avenue.

In the future, the college hopes to build more student housing so that seniors have an option to live on campus. But that concept is still in its infancy.

For now, Glen Avenue neighbors are adjusting to the idea of a warehouse in their midst.

Henrichs says she originally was told that CC planned to buy all the homes in the neighborhood, hers included. But if that was ever the plan, it's not anymore. Henrichs' block will remain in place according to CC's master plan — an island in a sea of commercial buildings.

The warehouse is, perhaps, even worse news for Larisa Kuhar, who for 17 years has rented a house currently owned by CC. On May 29, she says, she received notice that the house would be ripped down to make way for the warehouse. An email stream shows the notices were intended to go out April 20, with tenants moving out by June 1. Somehow, she says, her notice was missing.

Due to the mixup, she was given until June 13 to move out and was packing her things on June 8. Kuhar says she plans to live with her parents until she can find a new place and board her two cats. CC, she says, offered to pay for a motel, boarding for her pets and storage for her until June 20. They also returned her security deposit.

She says she was surprised to be kicked out of her home so suddenly. But she always knew she'd get a notice someday.

"We knew," she says, "that colleges eventually do this."


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