Plan for former Ivywild school includes businesses, community center

By: Sue McMillan
June 9, 2010

A plan for the former Ivywild Elementary School includes a brewery, coffee shop and bakery as well a space for arts and community functions -- maybe community gardens.

All while preserving the history of the school built in 1917 at 1094 S. Cascade Ave.

The first step toward making the vision a reality came Wednesday, when the Colorado Springs School District 11 board voted 5-2 to proceed with negotiations involving two businessmen who floated the plan. Board members Charlie Bobbitt and Bob Null opposed the motion after amendments they offered failed.

The board also approved a one-year lease with Colorado Springs Youth Symphony to move into the former Jefferson Elementary School and an agreement with the Space, Technology and Arts Academy, or STAR, charter school to use a little more than half the former Adams Elementary. The district is in discussion with Junior Achievement to use the other portion of Adams for student programs.

Numerous people spoke in favor of the Ivywild proposal, saying they believe the project would revitalize the south-central Colorado Springs neighborhood.

The concept and potential deal for the school that has sat vacant for more than a year have been discussed for months with Joseph Coleman, owner of Blue Star Restaurant, and Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing.

“We love that neighborhood,” Bristol said after the board vote. “Having an empty school there hasn’t helped.”

He emphasized that they’ve been talking with neighbors about their ideas because “we’re not interested in fighting with (them).”

The district put the building up for sale last fall and there was some interest, but no deals were made. Talks soon began with Coleman and Bristol about the potential of transforming the school into a small business and community center.

An appraisal in the spring of 2009 valued the property at little more than $1.4 million, the asking price in the district’s request for proposals.

On Wednesday, the board agreed to a price of between $1.2 and $1.4 million, depending on the results of an appraisal. The contract also lays out a schedule for the appraisal and inspection, loan approval for the buyers, rezoning and development plans – including public hearings – leading to closing on the property in May 2011, said Kris Odom, executive director for contracting.

The board made one change to the proposed contract, switching the cost of appraisal to the district and the title closing costs to the buyers. Null said although that increased the district’s cost by $2,000, it gives the district control over the hiring of the appraiser.
Bristol said he and Coleman would have to evaluate the change before commenting on it.

The Jefferson lease agreement included a provision where the youth symphony must return to the district by December with a long-term plan for the building. The symphony and other groups have suggested developing an arts consortium that could enter into a long-term lease or purchase agreement for the building at 1801 N. Howard Ave.


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