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After 20-year battle, Manitou's house on the hill set to come down

By: matt steiner matt.steiner@gazette.com
October 4, 2013 Updated: October 4, 2013 at 7:53 am
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photo - The city began a quest to acquire Tom McGee's property in the Iron Mountain Open Space after McGee purchased the 99-acre plot in 1989 and then in 1991 built the house that can be seen by all who pass the town located at the base of Pikes Peak. (The Gazette file)
The city began a quest to acquire Tom McGee's property in the Iron Mountain Open Space after McGee purchased the 99-acre plot in 1989 and then in 1991 built the house that can be seen by all who pass the town located at the base of Pikes Peak. (The Gazette file) 

The infamous House on Iron Mountain that looks down on Manitou Springs and spurred a more-than-20-year battle between the city and the property owner is set to be demolished on Tuesday.

Manitou Springs made the announcement Monday, and the house atop the 7,131-foot mountain on Oak Ridge Road will be no more.

"It's a great day," said Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder.

"Now the three most important pieces of open space will be under city stewardship," he said, noting that Manitou Springs had already acquired Red Mountain and Sheep Mountain.

The city began a quest to acquire Tom McGee's property in the Iron Mountain Open Space after McGee purchased the 99-acre plot in 1989 and then in 1991 built the house that can be seen by all who pass the town located at the base of Pikes Peak.

McGee petitioned the city shortly after his purchase to have utilities extended to the land for development. After officials refused, the landowner chose the prominent spot to build the home and angered many people in the process.

After court proceedings, McGee agreed in December 2011 to sell his land to Manitou Springs for $1.1 million. McGee could not be reached Monday for comment.

According to the city's press release Monday, the acquisition was finalized after Manitou received grant assistance from Great Outdoors Colorado. The grant money - combined with the open space funds from city sales and property tax - got the job done.

Snyder said he and contractors were in the house Sunday, salvaging cabinets, appliances and anything else they could donate to the Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

He wasn't sure exactly when contractors would begin knocking down the structure, because it sits on what he called a "challenging site."

"I imagine they'll be awhile getting the construction equipment up there," Snyder said, noting that rains have eroded the slopes around the house. "It's pretty dicey."

Michelle Anthony, a city planner, spoke with the contractor Monday and said the real demolition wouldn't begin until after noon.

The mayor expects it will take several days to finish the job. He was ecstatic to finally add this piece of land to the city's open-space roster.

"We need to keep that Colorado feel," Snyder said. "If we were to allow our hillsides to be developed, the traveling public might just go 50 miles down the road to get more of that Colorado experience."

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