It may be the world’s steepest driveway, at 7530 Dairy Ranch Road in the Woodstone neighborhood of northwest Colorado Springs. Here is a map of the area.
The house is a beautiful custom job with a stone fireplace, central air, wide-open layout and wrap-around porch. It enjoys stunning views from Blodgett Peak to the Black Forest. It has just one problem — it was built on a severe hillside.
It, and another next door, were built by real estate agent Scott Schwartz, starting in 2002. City officials say construction happened by mistake. Here is a photo from www.FlashEarth.com of the houses.
The parcels were overlooked in 1986 when the city mapped all property deemed too steep and dangerous for construction. City planners say no one ever should have built on the lots.
The driveway scared off potential buyers and the house sat empty for years. The first owners never moved in and the second owners lived there less than a year before moving out.
Here is a photo of the house from the El Paso County Assessor’s Web site.
The biggest mistake made during construction, according to city planner Brett Veltman, was the layout of the driveway. It starts at the lowest point on the property and is far too steep to be safe, he said, at upwards of a 40 percent grade. That’s the same as an easy black diamond ski run.
Veltman said the most grade the city typically allows is 20 percent. But because the house was left off the hillside map, city planners had no voice in construction.
Here is a view of the lower part of the driveway with Jason and Dacia Olson, who were the second owners. They were newlyweds at the time. They were not so happy eight months later when their truck rolled over coming down the driveway after a light snowfall, landing on its side. Dacia was eight months pregnant at the time.
The house sat vacant nearly two years until November 2007 when Val Bays and Jon Fraley bought it out of foreclosure. They knew its history but couldn’t resist its bargain-basement price at $250,000. The first owners paid $320,000 and the Olsons paid $290,000.
A few weeks after moving in, the driveway claimed another truck – Fraley’s. He wrecked at the bottom, breaking the axle of his truck.
But they plan to stay and eventually rebuild the driveway. It would be expensive, experts say. Perhaps $70,000. Here is how one expert suggests the driveway should be built.