A Pikes Peak region landmark is for sale, and its purchase could lead to the transformation of one of the area’s most iconic properties.
The majestic Briarhurst Manor in Manitou Springs, constructed in 1876 as a Victorian manor house and operated as a fine dining restaurant for decades, has been put on the market by owner Ken Healey. The asking price: $3.95 million.
Healey, who purchased Briarhurst Manor in 2000, said the property’s always been for sale, but it was only formally listed once before.
Now, Healey has brought on commercial brokerage Hoff & Leigh of Colorado Springs, which is actively marketing the property.
“I want to retire,” the 73-year-old Healey said. “It’s real simple, really simple. I’m tired.”
Manitou Springs founder Dr. William Bell built Briarhurst Manor as a home for himself and his family; Bell, an Englishman, was a business partner of Colorado Springs founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer, according to a history on the restaurant’s website. The two-story, 14,482-square-foot building sits on 4.8 acres at 404 Manitou Ave.
“The finely grained pink sandstone Tudor Manor displays the architecture and landscaping of an English country house, complete with the bubbling Fountain Creek passing through the estate and offers an unrivaled view of Pikes Peak,” according to the website.
The Briarhurst Manor also has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 — a designation that recognizes a property’s historical, architectural or archaeological significance, according to the National Park Service’s website. That designation, however, doesn’t restrict what private owners can do with their property, the website says.
In 1974, local chef Sigi Krauss bought the property and opened it as a fine-dining establishment a year later. Healey, a onetime California restaurant executive, continued to operate Briarhurst Manor in the same fashion after his purchase.
Today, Briarhurst Manor seats up to 500 and offers a la carte and five-course dining in nine rooms, its website says. Its menu includes domestic and game meats, fresh seafood, pastas, poultry, specialty salads and desserts. With its secluded lawns, gardens and mountain views, Briarhurst Manor also plays host to weddings, receptions, corporate meetings and other events.
Although he’s listed it for sale, Healey said Briarhurst Manor will remain open for the foreseeable future. If it’s sold, existing contracts would be honored for weddings and other events, he said.
“Let’s just put it up for sale, list it and see if we get somebody that actually wants to write a check,” Healey said.
The property’s ideal use going forward would be as a boutique hotel, he said.
Broker Tim Leigh, who’s marketing the property along with colleague Tony White, called Briarhurst Manor “one of the more attractive redevelopment opportunities in the metroplex” because of its nearly 5-acre size and scenic location next to Fountain Creek and in touristy Manitou Springs.
The property could become any number of uses, such as apartments, a high-end senior housing complex or an Alzheimer’s care facility, Leigh said. The building also could support an addition, and has been enlarged in the past, he said.
“There is more adding on you could do to that property to make that property reach its highest and best use,” Leigh said. “Right now, I think its highest and best use as it sits has come and gone. It’s seen its heyday. I think it’s kind of incumbent upon us as brokers to find the next highest and best use for that property, compatible with what is in the best interest of the overall community in Manitou.”
“It’s such a wonderful property that if it’s done right,” Leigh added, “I think it becomes a real enhancement to the overall community out there.”
But not everyone agrees Briarhurst Manor’s time as a restaurant should come to an end.
Leslie Lewis, executive director of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, said Briarhurst Manor remains an attractive dining destination and draws people from Denver and other cities.
“I would hate to see that become, like, an apartment building,” Lewis said. “It’s a great historic building with a huge ballroom. … Plus the fact there’s the history of the building. We have visitors who love to just go look at that property because of the history of it.”
Lewis said she understands Healey’s wish to retire.
Still, she said, “I would really miss it if it becomes something other than the destination restaurant/event venue. I’m sure there are lots of brides who have great wedding photos from that location.”
Briarhurst Manor still does a good business and maintains its reputation for quality food and a charming ambiance, Leigh said.
“But times change and use of property changes and we hope to make it something better than a fine-dining restaurant,” he said.
Kimberly Johnson, Manitou’s planning director, said city code allows for a range of redevelopment options for the Briarhurst Manor site. Conversations are underway with Leigh about possible new uses for the property, she said.
“We’re really open to adaptive reuse of the property, certainly,” Johnson said. “It’s a historic building. It’s a valuable asset. So I think we’re always open to hearing what kind of ideas people have.”
Leigh said he’s excited for the property’s future.
“We’re tickled to death to work on it because it’s one of those really cool properties,” he said. “I don’t know the final outcome, but I know somebody’s going to see that and get as tickled as I am just looking at the opportunity. … Somebody with the right capital setup and the right vision could turn that into a multigenerational crown jewel for the community of Manitou Springs.”