Posts Tagged ‘fort collins’

If you live in a neighborhood you love, and you worry about monster houses taking over, you should know what’s happening over on Park Street.

Dee Amick has filed for Landmark District Designation on behalf of her entire block. And while the application goes through its process, nobody builds anything.

That’s darn inconvenient for the new owner of 223 Park Street,  who wants to scrape the tiny 1925 vernacular that’s there now and erect something a little more roomy.

223 Park St. Tree in foreground was brought to property from Rist Canyon by original owners.

223 Park St. Tree in foreground was brought to property from Rist Canyon by original owners.

223 Park in 1948 (From the Fort Collins Museum Archives)

223 Park in 1948 (From the Fort Collins Museum Archives)

Amick worries that means a 40-foot-tall 2 1/2 story new-old house, in a neighborhood where most houses stand 20 feet.

In her application, she says  “small practical houses” characterize the neighborhood and its working class roots.  So, historic district designation could mandate that new construction also follow compatible guidelines.

To date, no Old Town neighborhoods seem to have been assigned Landmark District Designation, and I’m not sure if any others have even applied. (I only did a quick search on that fact.)

There is still a lot left to do, starting with a plea she plans to make to City Council tonight.  Should be live on Channel 14 between 5:30 and 6:30pm. Watch on TV, or show up in person and let council know you care about this sort of thing.

Dee Amick in front of the old Charvat's Grocery, part of the proposed landmark district.

Dee Amick in front of the old Charvat's Grocery, part of the proposed landmark district.


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Former trailer park. Site of major 1997 flooding.  

Sweet peas bloom on site of old trailer park

Fort Collins recently found the area around College, just south of Prospect, blighted. It includes ChuckECheese, Dairy Queen, and early strip malls.

The area in the photo above is behind the strip malls. It was a trailer park, but it took the worst of the 1997 flood (several residents drowned trying to leave) and the trailers have since been hauled away. I hear we’ll have apartments there soon.

So, what makes blight? The city has several criteria. But my short answer is “anywhere that Latinos might be starting to open successful businesses.”

 This is one of maybe 3 areas in town with Latino businesses, and all would qualify as blighted by our standards. 

So, I have 3 wishes for the Prospect/College renewal plan:

1. That it finds a way to include the affordable little businesses that reside there now–Mexican markets, used books, used games, cheap exercise, ordinary ice cream.  

2. That it finds an architectural approach that transcends 21st century monster strip mall, er, Lifestyle Center.

3. That it finds a way to keep the trailer park trees.

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From a 1956 Chamber of Commerce brochure. 

(Of course, the “land area” argument was lost when Alaska was admitted to the union 3 years later. Let’s try not to be bitter when Sarah gets here on Monday, okay?)

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Fort Collins is kind of uncool. 

I don’t mean like bitter, mean, no fun uncool. I mean like we don’t have any cool googie architecture –that 50s/60s atomic boomerang look. We have a little bit, and we used to have a little bit more:


Butterfly roofline on old dairy building, LaPorte and Meldrum.

Butterfly roofline on old dairy building, LaPorte and Meldrum.

Michael's Drive through, with zig zag roof

But we don’t have any googie in all the places you would expect to find it–bowling alleys, old diners and motels.  Okay, you might consider the old Safeway with its Marina roof googie.

I’m going to keep looking.

Meanwhile, you know what mid-century architecture we do have a lot of? MANSARD!!!!! So, my next post is going to have to be about Mansard roofs in Fort Collins. You revile them now, we all do. But someday you’ll love them. Just wait.

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 In 1984, Fort Collins paid local artist, Richard Scorpio, $2000 to transform a dead tree in front of City Hall into a contemporary statue. Dance formation was here to “demonstrate the concept of art in public places.”  Ceremonies followed.

20 years later, however, the piece moved into a patch of weeds at Martinez Park. I don’t think there was a ceremony.

At first, I thought, this could be a great opportunity for Lost Fort Collins to make recommendations for other statues we might like to see relocated …

Relocated running man

Then, I changed my mind.

When I visited to take pictures, something happened. I decided that as it decays, Danceformation is the most moving piece of public art I have ever seen.

These doomed partners aren’t going to be with us for long, and it’s like they know it.

You can visit them between the bike trail and the playground at Martinez Park. I recommend you get up close. 

 Danceformation at Martinez Park 


TWO city departments mobilized so I could write this post. Local Archives dug through all their Fort Collins history materials looking for a younger picture of Danceformation. We never could find one.

The City Clerk retrieved all of the City’s official correspondence about the statue, made me copies, and never even asked why I wanted them!

Then there was a guy named Chris, sitting with the codgers in front of the Northern, who first suggested that Dancefomration was a carved cottonwood. That’s not the first time I’ve drawn from the collective memory of the Northern Hotel crowd.

Fort Collins rocks!

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 Lost Fort Collins just posted a new page (see the tabs above): “Tour de neighborhood markets.” It’s a suggested bike tour of >15 former grocery stores in old town that are now mostly just peoples’ funny-looking houses.

Some people say that neighborhood markets faded when big supermarkets came to town. But that’s not entirely true. In the 1940s and 50s, Fort Collins had Safeway and one or two others. A more viable theory (thanks John in ND) might be that they waned with the 1-car family.

You’re husband has the car at work, and you’ve got to get one or two ingredients for supper–you’ll walk to the corner market before you’ll go downtown.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Tour.

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