The redevelopment of South Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs is in full swing, as demolition crews Wednesday razed the old, boarded-up Cheyenne Motel that for years was a magnet for crime in the area.

A group headed by downtown businessman Sam Guadagnoli, which owns the property, also recently tore down a nearby building that housed the Taste of Philly restaurant.

The demolition of the structures, in the 1600 block of South Nevada, is part of a larger makeover planned along and near Nevada and South Tejon Street - 100 acres designated last year as an urban renewal site by the city's Springs Urban Renewal Authority and the Colorado Springs City Council.

"It really is happening," Guadagnoli said of South Nevada's makeover.

As envisioned, land on either side of Nevada - between Interstate 25 and East Cheyenne Road and a mile south of the Springs' downtown - will be transformed from used-car lots, pawnshops, motels and aging houses into restaurants, stores, apartments, townhomes and a new hotel. Trails and open space also are part of the plan.

Guadagnoli's On the Ivy LLC is one of three groups that proposed the area's redevelopment, and they've been buying land in anticipation of injecting new life into the tired South Nevada and South Tejon corridors.

In Guadagnoli's case, his group actually started purchasing land several years ago, but the area's redevelopment was put on hold when the Great Recession hit.

Now, with a stronger economy and tax incentives provided by the urban renewal designation, the development groups are moving forward.

The destruction of the Cheyenne Motel has been talked about for years. The red-brick, 17-room motel, built in the early 1950s, has been boarded up for more than a year.

But when it was open, it was subject to numerous code and fire safety violations, and drug dealers and prostitutes frequented the property. Police responded regularly to calls for service as a result of the motel's shady clientele.

With the motel and Taste of Philly building razed, developer Ray O'Sullivan, who's working with Guadagnoli, said talks are underway with fast-food and sit-down restaurants to occupy a handful of new buildings planned for the property.

In a best-case scenario, construction of those buildings would begin early in 2017, with completion later in the year, O'Sullivan said. At the same time, a building that housed a dry cleaners, also owned by Guadagnoli's group, will be remodeled for new uses, he said.

A separate building that houses the Ivywild Pharmacy isn't owned by Guadagnoli and will remain standing; however, O'Sullivan said Guadagnoli plans to help spruce up that building's exterior.

Guadagnoli's group now has torn down nearly 30 buildings near South Nevada and South Tejon; his group plans a host of residential and commercial uses on other property it owns, including land along Fountain Creek that snakes through the area.

Meanwhile, Salida-based Harder-Diesslin Development Group, headed by developer Walt Harder, is moving ahead with demolition of buildings that housed the Stardust Motel, Gray's Tire & Auto and the Chief Motel. Those buildings are just north of the former Cheyenne Motel.

Natural Grocers, Chick-fil-A and fast-casual restaurants Zoes Kitchen and Mad Greens are planned for Harder's site, southwest of Nevada and Navajo Street.

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Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

Facebook: Rich Laden

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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