City council reviews Mill Street Neighborhood Plan

Posted at 12:39 PM, Nov 18, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS – Peter Sprunger Froese’s one-bedroom, 500 square foot house is a tiny home built a century before tiny homes became popular. It’s rent controlled, owned by a charity called Ithaka Land Trust.

“We rent here for cheaply because we were involuntary departures as they called us over there,” he said.

By over there, he means an earlier urban renewal project at Weber and Fountain.  Peter and his wife Mary were bought out and their house demolished to make way for a block-full of townhomes built in the early 2000’s.

It’s safe to say, Peter is keenly aware of the high dollar real estate developments under construction in areas immediately surrounding his Mill Street Neighborhood. He worries history could repeat itself.

“They have an effect of yuppifying, of making more elite the neighborhood, and the rent will go up,” he said. “Right now we have 64 percent of our Mill Street Neighborhood that is renters, the rest are owners.”

The City is concerned too. It’s why the Community Development Division has created the Mill Street Neighborhood Plan.

“There are a lot of factors that are affecting and squeezing this neighborhood in different ways,” said Catherine Duarte, a senior analyst with the division “This plan, the Mill Street Neighborhood Plan, is a way to build in some tools for resilience.”

If approved, the 69-page document would guide future land decisions by prioritizing historical preservation and housing affordability.  Federal Community Development Block Grant money will be a made available to homeowners to encourage them to rehab their historic homes and build even more low-income housing through an accessory dwelling pilot program.

“This is a city that, it’s really difficult to create infill construction, it’s really expensive.”

The money would also be used to pay for a safety audit by the Colorado Springs Police Department and for various improvements to parks and trails.