Hasta la Victoria Siempre-the Pueblo Riverwalk
Source D. Ohmans
Date 12/01/12/11:14
Riverwalk draws more interest

A PAIR OF private developers hope to ride the wave of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo's future expansion.

Denver developer Hendricks Communities seeks to build a large four-story apartment and retail building at the vacant site of the former Pueblo City-County Health Department on Main Street.

The new building would feature retail shops on the ground floor and moderately-priced apartments on the upper floors. The building would house dozens of apartments.

Meanwhile, Pueblo architect Gary Anzuini and several partners seek to build a large four-story retail and office building on the so-called "grassy slope" area near City Hall.

Anzuini recently constructed a smaller mixed-use building, dubbed the Eco-Walk building, near City Hall and adjacent to the newer Angelo's Pizza building.

The grassy slope is now used for public events such as Fourth of July concerts but always has been intended as a site for private development, to help pay for the Riverwalk's costs.

A new master plan for the Riverwalk's future expansion calls for creating a permanent open space/events venue in the general area of the city's old police building.

Preliminary details of the Hendricks and Anzuini building projects were released at an Urban Renewal Authority of Pueblo meeting Tuesday.

John Batey, director of the urban renewal authority, said Hendricks has agreed to pay $400,000 for the former health department site. Construction could begin in 2013.

Right now, lawyers are reviewing the purchase agreement. The urban renewal authority may give final approval as early as its February meeting.

The second building proposal drew some opposition at Tuesday's board meeting.

A half dozen Pueblo residents who want the Riverwalk to keep the grassy slope told the board to protect the open space. "That's what makes it belong to all of us," Margaret Miller said.

Another advocate for the grassy space, J. Doug Ohmans, tried a different tactic, urging the board to keep the space and rename the site for the Home of Heroes.

Ohmans acknowledged that he has been a critic of the military theme of the Walk of Honor that runs from the Pueblo Convention Center, over Veterans' Bridge to the Center for American Values but, he said, he was willing to embrace the name if the Riverwalk kept the open space undeveloped.

Pueblo City Council President Chris Kaufman, who serves on the urban renewal board, said the open area, while popular, is unsafe for large public events such as last summer's crowded Fourth of July celebration. Fire Chief Chris Riley "has said that crowd was too large if any serious problems had occurred," Kaufman said.

Batey noted that, even if that grassy lot is developed by Anzuini, some open space will remain around the building.

Jim Munch, director of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk Authority, said in an interview Wednesday the planned Gateway Park outdoor event center could handle as large of crowds as the grassy slope.

No price has been settled on the land sought for Anzuini's project but city officials are exchanging proposals with the development group.

Elsewhere during the urban renewal meeting, attendees reported that Colorado Preservation Inc., a private non-profit group, has designated the city's East Side as an "endangered area."

A spokesman for Colorado Preservation declined to give details of that decision, saying there would be a formal announcement on Feb. 2.

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