Crockett Lane doesn’t look like an outlaw neighborhood. Viewed from the south, it appears to be an idyllic country neighborhood where horses of Brookside Stables mingle amid a barn and cottages.
Truth is, Crockett Lane is an odd collection of converted sheds and garages plus a couple of homes moved in and a couple historic stone houses situated along a gravel alley behind East Brookside Street and South Corona Avenue.
Here’s a look at it from FlashEarth.com
It’s a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood. And it’s in transition.
The houses and stables are sandwiched by a new charter school complex and a few businesses near some older, lower-income apartment complexes.
Crockett Lane was cobbled together about 20 years ago by rogue developer Lee Jeffers, a disgraced ex-investment broker who pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2000.
Jeffers also had an empire of 24 rental properties, mostly on Crockett Lane.
It appears he was as bad a developer as he was an investment broker.
When his properties went into foreclosure and were liquidated in 2007, real estate agents discovered several didn’t exist in the eyes of Colorado Springs Utilities.
That’s because, on at least five of the houses, Jeffers didn’t pull building permits. He didn’t pay development fees (the cost of tapping into city water mains, sewer lines and power grid). Nor did his houses get inspected.
He simply piggy-backed water, sewer and electric service off older, existing houses in the neighborhood. When Utilities discovered the illegal hook-ups, they immediately shut off service.
And Pikes Peak Regional Building Department declared the houses unfit for occupancy. But they waited until the houses had been resold, leaving the new owners to remedy the mess.
Folks like Carol Durell were plunged into a bureaucratic swamp. She and the others learned the houses sat in a floodplain. Long months of negotiations, inspections and fees won a variance.
Then they had to hire an engineer to draw up the existing neighborhood, survey and plat it and design water main and sewer service. Easements were needed. Problems with power poles.
Finally, the owners faced steep development fees – the price of hooking into city water, sewers and power grid. Fees run $11,000 and up for each of the five houses.
Bids to install water and sewer ran upwards of $70,000. But one of the owners, Steve Traylor, agreed to do the work himself, cutting the bill more than half for his neighbors. He hopes to have the houses, south of downtown near Brookside and Corona streets, ready for occupancy in a couple weeks.
“I’m doing everything by the book,” Traylor said.
Neighbor Durell is thrilled.
“Finally, there’s hope,” she said. “We’ve got a good group working together. We’re going to have a nice little community there.”
I think they should rename their street. Maybe Redemption Lane.