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Design Center could sprout up 

While the words "Colorado Springs" and "skyscraper" are seldom uttered in the same sentence, the city could find another tower added to its modest quiver.

That is, if plans to turn the building on Tejon Street and Colorado Avenue that currently houses the Design Center into a 14-story retail-residential high-rise get a green light from city planners.

In February, representatives of the Springs-based LandCo Properties and Boulder-based architectural firm Oz Architecture met with city planner Steve Tuck to kick off the pre-application approval process. According to documents submitted to the city, LandCo's plans call for a mixed-use building with street-level retail space and roughly 100 residential units.

Tuck said that because LandCo's plans don't require rezoning, the building would not need to be approved by the City Council-appointed planning commission, but could be sanctioned internally by planning department staff. Tuck also noted that a retail-residential space jives with the mandates outlined in the downtown action plan, which Council approved in 1992.

Store no more

Originally built in 1914 as the Stratton Center, 27 S. Tejon was redesigned in 1946 by Edward Bunts, a local architect responsible for the First Methodist Church and Palmer High School.

For nearly 20 years it was the site of Kaufman's department store.

"It was considered a strikingly modern store in the West," said Tim Scanlon, the city's senior planner assigned to historic preservation. The building's two-story windows allowed greater views of its merchandise.

The Design Center took over the building in 1994.

Impossible to predict

Tuck said timetables for pre-applications are impossible to predict. "Sometimes they submit the [pre-application] and nothing happens after that, or it can take two weeks," Tuck said. LandCo, he said, does not appear to be on the fast track.

LandCo Properties is also responsible for the new CityWalk apartment complex on East Kiowa Street near downtown. As of press time, the company's president, Michael Raider, could not be reached for comment.

Should the high-rise be approved, it would be only the third 14-story building in downtown. The Wells Fargo building at Cascade and Colorado avenues stands 16 stories tall, marking Colorado Springs best attempt at scraping the heavens. Unless you count that mountain ...

-- John Dicker

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